How to Reach Wider Audiences with Infographics

Infographics are popular for good reason. Done well, they simplify complex data sets or processes, turning heavy information into inviting content that swiftly arrests reader attention, builds interest and builds qualified engagement.

Additionally, because they are visuals by their very definition, infographics are more likely to be shared on social networks than plain text messages, and additionally carry extra weight with the algorithms that dictate what we see on search engines and social networks.

In many cases, infographics often represent important strategic messages, such as a visual map of a new service, a guide to a process or a primary expression of an expensive, high-value piece of underlying content, such as a study or white paper.

Infographics are important and effective, but many brands underuse these assets, failing to distribute them much beyond the company blog and a few Tweets. Here are some ideas for generating more traction with high-value visual content.

  • Earn some media: Loop the PR team into the production of the infographic. Especially if the infographic summarizes data of some sort, chances are good there’s an underlying story in which industry media would find interesting. Pitch the story (and accompanying visual) to a relevant publication or web site as an exclusive, before you publish.
  • Have your designer create snippets of the most compelling facts from the primary image, and format them with social sharing in mind. Each will communicate a discrete and focused message, creating a distributed portal back to the primary content piece. (This example from CipherPoint illustrates one key, compelling fact, grabbing attention.)
  • Create a slide deck comprising the various elements of the infographic, and offering more detail when appropriate. Post it to SlideShare. Embed either a lead capture form or (at the very least) a clickable link to more information. SlideShare has its own discrete audience, and the decks have extra utility on your blog and amongst your sales team.
  • Animate it. Turning an infographic into a sweet animated video is a popular trend and can be done a much lower cost than video productions requiring camera crews and significant editing. Video is among the stickiest and effective content, due in no small part that the site we all use to host video – YouTube – also happens to be the second largest search engine behind its parent company Google.  (See this collection on Vimeo.)
  • Use the infographic to attract audiences to related, higher-value owned content, such as a downloadable survey or white paper. Distribute the infographic in a press release that discusses key findings or data, and links to the related media in the call to action.  (Here’s a good example from a company called CloudPhysics, which coupled a newsy press release with an infographic to promote a study.)
  • Be sure to use the image to illustrate blog posts, press releases and any other messaging you distribute to promote related content, such as webinar invites, or promotions of white papers or study results. The data are unequivocal – content with visuals generates better results. However, the majority of news releases are text only. Visuals give your messages a real leg up in the competition for audience attention.

One infographic can deliver a spectacular amount of long lasting value for the brand, and even more importantly, multiple opportunities for the organization to reach and engage audiences.  However, to deliver capitalize on the power of this important type visual content, you have to have multi-channel distribution strategy for your brand’s infographics.

Author Sarah Skerik is a B2B marketing and PR pro, specializing in integrating public relations, social media and content marketing to reach qualified audiences and deliver measureable results. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik or connect on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/sarahskerik

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Does Your B2B Belong on Instagram? 4 Questions to Ask …

New data from Simply Measured offers marketers compelling insight into the effectiveness of Instagram, and the numbers should make any marketer stop in their tracks. Audiences are swelling and engagement levels are up more than four-fold year on year.

However, a scan of the research reveals that the preponderance of brands on Instagram are consumer-focused, which begs the question — Do B2Bs belong on Instagram?

Platforms like Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook can be of enormous utility to B2Bs, simply because many of the denizens on those platforms have professional interests. They want to advance their careers, improve their performance and solve business problems. And the time they spend surfing favorite social networks is a golden opportunity for marketers.

Case in point: I am a keep-your-peanut-butter-out-of-my-chocolate social network user. My Facebook presence is purely personal, whereas on Twitter and LinkedIn, I talk nothing but shop. However, Facebook’s algorithm knows who I am, and serves up interesting content from Marketo that hooks me every single time.

So to answer the question posed by the headline, yes, your brand may very well belong from being on Instagram. However, as you’ve surmised by now, there’s more to consider as you determine the best answer for your organization.

Via Adweek.

Are my audiences on Instagram? 

The first question brands need to ask is whether their constituents are on the social network they’re targeting. Assess the network’s demographics first, and if they are there in droves, spend some time in-persona, assessing the network content through the lenses of your target groups.

Do we have the right people to build the presence? 

Developing traction on social networks is not a set-it-and-forget-it proposition. It requires smart curation, audience savvy and good people and service skills. However, I’d say that a good brand presence starts with a real network enthusiast – someone who has experience on and dexterity with the social network, and frankly loves using it.

Do we have the right content or story for the social network? 

Brands that plaster the same content across networks will invariably fail. Social networks are – by definition -social in nature. The content brands share has to be the right mix of attractive and compelling. In the case of Instagram and other highly visual networks. brands need to tell their stories visually, and for many, that can be a stumbling block. Before you jump in, assess the brand’s content. Success will depend upon the ongoing creation of relevant, platform-appropriate content.

Can we measure it? 

The measurement question is probably the most often overlooked, because put another way, it asks “What are we doing here, and what do we hope to achieve?” In the case of a site like Instagram, the content and subsequent interactions in the upper funnel, building awareness and developing qualified interest. The “ask” needs to be in line with very early-stage consideration. Defining objectives and measuring results hinge upon setting appropriate objectives for the network.

If you have good answers to these four questions, chances are good your brand will thrive on on Instagram.

Content Marketing Word: The Discovery Track

I’ve devoted a lot of time this summer to the concept of driving content discovery.  When you work for PR Newswire and have a content marketing role, that also comes with a license to experiment, and the keys to the content candy store.

Over the last few months, I’ve been playing with this and that, combining multimedia distribution with social platforms, plugging news releases into the mix and in general pulling levers and pushing buttons.  And some of it’s worked pretty well.

I’ve logged my adventures under the Discovery tag on the PR Newswire blog (http://blog.prnewswire.com/?s=discovery) and will be drilling into the topic – and tactics – at Content Marketing World in September.  I’ve never been so excited about a trip to Cleveland.  (And for the record, I used to live in Cleveland and love the place.  No scoffing here.)

Chicago Sun-Times Decision to Cut Photography Staff Signals Opportunity for Brands

In a move that is raising eyebrows amongst media-watchers, the Chicago Sun-Times today announced the layoff of its entire photography staff.  While the fact that the economic outlook for many traditional news media outlets is grim is definitely not new news, this strikes me as being utterly the wrong move.

Almost all of the new developments in content sharing, digital media consumption and social media are centered around visuals.  Entire social networks like Pinterest, Instagram and Vine are built on visual content.  YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine. Facebook and Twitter have put digital content front and center for their users. The algorithms that search engines and social networks used to determine what we see all give visuals more weight.

These are just a few of the reasons why it is difficult to overstate the importance of visuals in today’s information environment and communications arenas.  Humans are visual animals, and if you want to attract a human audience, you need visual content, period.

But simply having a visual isn’t enough.  A bad visual will not generate good traffic or good engagement.  To be effective, the visual must serve the audiences interest. Traditionally, news photography has set the standard for compelling imagery and visual storytelling, thought that may be going by the wayside now.   According to reports today, the Sun-Times plans on asking reporters to “provide” pictures and videos to accompany the stories.

Journalistic sentiments aside, I smell an opportunity for PR, which was the topic of my post titled “Chicago Sun-Times Lays Off Photographers & Opens Door for Newsworthy Third Party Content” over on Beyond PR.