The goal for content marketers is to keep the target audience engaged with your content. Good content succeeds in achieving one of the following goals with your target audience:
- Understanding something better
- Using something more easily
- Doing something smarter
- Seeing things in a different way
And when we say content, it’s not always about the written word. You know the old cliché about one picture being worth a thousand words? Well, it’s a cliché because it’s true!
Anyone who has run a successful content marketing campaign, especially in a tech or B2B space will tell you that the visual is key. Regardless of who your audience actually is, they’re likely not wanting to read through streams and streams of content – not many people do. They want an easy to digest, compelling and informative snippet of information coupled with an eye catching graphic.
However, this can go even further. Sometimes, content isn’t even needed, the graphic alone is enough to convey the message to the audience, speaking volumes on its own. Visuals can be used to convey your message in so many ways depending on your brand, then your audience and then the message(s) you want to convey to them.
And it would be a great mistake to start thinking that infographics are anything new, or an innovative and clever part of the marketer’s arsenal. In fact, communicating visually has been a part of the communicator’s arsenal since Neanderthals started painting on cave walls! Over the years, some simply stunning infographics have transformed the way people think, behave, and use certain products: and here is a list of our absolute favourites.
The London Tube Map
The Tube map is a schematic transport map of the lines, stations and services of the London Underground, known colloquially as “the Tube”, hence the map’s name. Designed by Harry Beck in 1931, it is a work of design genius. Why? Because it does not show the geographic locations but rather the relative positions of the stations and lines, and how the stations are interconnected. It must have taken a real stroke of genius to stop thinking geographically about the network and present it quickly, efficiently and using colours and grids in a way that makes it a breeze for any stranger to find their way around the capital. The Tube map has gone viral globally and serves as the template for transport networks around the world from New York to Tokyo. In 2006, the tube map was voted one of Britain’s top ten design icons which included Concorde, Mini, and World Wide Web.
(You need to be a local to know that it’s much faster to walk between Charing Cross and Embankment, or Leicester Square and Covent Garden, than taking the tube!)
What can we content marketers learn from it? To think differently and be fearless in breaking the rules, exploring new ways of presenting complex information.
Wawamu’s world GDP ranking by country from 1960 to 2017
This dynamic graph by Wawamu went viral last month, showing the relative GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the top ten economies in the world, changing over the past fifty-odd years. Breathing life into ‘dry’ macro-economic data, that only those already interested in economics would normally be intrigued by, and turned it into compelling viewing. I found myself muttering ‘Come on, China!’. With more than 300,000 views on YouTube and shares across thousands of LinkedIn feeds, forwarded onto tens of thousands of WhatsApp groups, this is a deceptively simple and compelling way of presenting a huge volume of data. It uses motion cleverly and effectively, and shows us all how time series should be done. Well done Wawamu! I predict that many annual reports and presentations next year will be picking up this technique.
This is an ideal example of what a conventional infographic should look like, done in a slick, compelling way. It’s obviously targeted at younger audiences and is packed with small snippets of information such as top speed and average weight/ height. This infographic detailing the traits of nature’s speed machine – the Cheetah, works beautifully. The central GIF adds an element of dynamism to the visual, whilst also offering insight into how the majestic animals move at the speed they do. Combining the moving visual with key information and top stats, along with clever icons such as the speedometer, this infographic is compelling for younger readers, whether they are or aren’t interested in the animal kingdom. From the savanna orange background to the individual stride measurements, there’s really nothing not to love with this visual and it ticks all the boxes on how to lay out and what to include in an infographic that aims to pack in a lot of information in an attractive, engaging manner.
The Evolution of Man
Here’s another one that nobody would think of as an infographic, would they? The visual that spawned a thousand memes, this is probably one of the most globally well-known visuals of all time, and has been reproduced on everything from T-shirts to keyrings. It’s tempting to dismiss this as ‘not really an infographic’ – but pause and think! It represents in just a few images a really very complex scientific theory – how man evolved from apes.
Speaking volumes without saying a single word, this iconic visual is recognised worldwide and you’d be hard pushed to find someone who doesn’t know what this graphic is saying.
There are thousands of infographics that have proceeded to go viral but we really wanted to think outside the box to show readers that visuals don’t have to be visuals in the traditional sense. We’ve chosen these four graphics as they all have something special that makes them stand out from the masses – they’re effective, compelling and tell a story or convey a message in the easiest way possible, offering audiences easily consumable content, whether using words to do so or not is irrelevant.
Now you have the visual side covered, it’s time to look at your content strategy. Anu has offered five easy steps to follow to create a successful content strategy in last week’s blog, here.