Toby Brown

Creating great infographics for business audiences

Posted on 24th April 2012 by Toby Brown

If you follow us on LinkedIn or twitter, you may notice that we’ve been given a Sabre Award for our recent infographic project with global management consultancy, Hay Group. We worked with them to mash their copious amounts of leadership data into a creative, interactive visualisation depicting the workplace ‘climates’ across Europe.

The Hay Group Climate Map

It’s no surprise that the Climate Map was a hit online, as it combined simple but effective design with a great conversation-generating idea. People were more than keen to discuss their own workplace climate in relation to Hay Group’s data, sparking debate across traditional and social media. Kudos to Redhouse Lane, who brought the interactive inforgraphic to life. You can read a case study of the campaign here: Hay Group Climate Map case study.

The award win has put us in a great mood, so we thought we’d share some of our ideas to help you create your own compelling visualisations and infographics:

So what’s the best way to go about creating an infographic?

First understand why you are doing it. If it’s because everyone else is – this is the wrong reason. Determine whether an infographic fits in with the overall objectives of the campaign and take it from there.

Next, involve a designer that understands your company and what you are trying to convey. As well as developing a clear brief and coming up with your own metaphorical and visual ideas, hold an ideas meeting with the designer to hit on the best concept.

As all infographics are different, development tends to be quite an iterative process. Prepare your designer for more than two rounds of approvals so they don’t try to complete the whole thing in one go. Everyone must be comfortable with a more dynamic development process.

What works and what doesn’t?

Simple, beautiful graphics that speak for themselves work best. It’s also important to choose the most interesting data. If it’s particularly revelatory or new, this will obviously help. Remember, an infographic can’t make boring data interesting, your information has to be relevant to your audience in the first place before making it beautiful.

Try to focus in on a central idea for your piece so it’s immediately clear what the visualisation or graphic stands for. Throw in too many ideas and you’ll miss the mark and the message you’re trying to convey.

One of the best ways to stay focused is to hit on a simple, effective theme that gives scope for creative data graphics – for example, the weather. Make sure it’s related to your topic though, and not too tenuous. You should also consider the 3-4 most important bits of information and build out from there. Be brutal though, infographics should make data easy to understand and fun to read. Cut unnecessary stats and keep it simple!

How do you promote it?

If you’ve got good data and a great design, chances are it will get passed around a fair bit on twitter. To oil the wheels though, launching an infographic alongside a standard data-driven press release is a good tactic to increase interest in the overall package.

Use photo-sharing sites like Flickr, or your pressroom if it has this functionality, to host high and low definition versions of your infographic for use on the web and in print publications. Also, make it easy to embed, download or share the image directly from your page using appropriate sharing buttons. This will ensure bloggers, twitter users and online media outlets can access and use your infographic as they desire. Social media news release sites also offer image hosting services if you don’t have this facility on your website.

As part of this outreach it’s important to propagate your infographic throughout your own social estate, e.g. over twitter, Facebook, via LinkedIn groups etc. LinkedIn has also recently launched a ‘Company status update’ tool, allowing easier communication with your followers.

How do you measure its success?

For measurement to work your objectives need to be smart, measurable, achievable and relevant. Now decide whether you have met them or not.

Other key metrics you can look at as part of your infographic outreach are: linkbacks from sites that embed the image stored on your server; sharing of your infographic across the social web (use sites like bit.ly to create trackable links); and good old fashioned coverage across blogs and online publications.

Likewise, if there is a compelling call to action in your infographic, you may want to include a short link or special phone number for interested parties to contact you – you can then measure direct response as a result of the buzz you have created.

Check out or blog on ‘PR Beyond the Page’ for some of the most useful sites for infographic inspiration.

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