Infographics are an upper funnel asset of choice for many content marketers. Most of us would likely agree that infographics and data visualizations consistently produce stellar audience engagement metrics on blogs and social media.
Pictorializing information is not a new concept; there are several widely circulated theories as to why audiences love graphical representations of data, some art, some science and some a combination of the two.
The most obvious and pervasive theory about we all love infographics and why they have such high levels of engagement is because 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. So, anatomically humans are wired for pictures.
Alberto Cairo is the Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the School of Communication at the University of Miami, he teaches courses on infographics and data visualization and has authored 3 books on the subject.
I asked for his thoughts on why he thinks audiences respond so well to infographics, “The reason why data visualizations and infographics resonate with audiences is that we humans are, by nature, a visual species. We have a hard time decoding written text and numerical tables, but when those numbers are encoded as visual shapes (bars, colors, lines, dots...) suddenly trends and patterns become visible. Besides, a well-designed visualization has the same effects as a good illustration or a good photograph: It grabs your attention.”
Social media engagement is perhaps now a strong driver for instantly consumable and highly sharable content, infographics fit that need well. Historically, the primary purpose for data visualizations and infographics was to communicate information easily and effectively to a large group of people, even before the advent of social media. Now the primary purpose at least on social seems to be the pursuit of shareability.
Both marketers and individuals use these visuals to stay relevant to their networks, customers and prospects. Twitter published research in 2015 that showed Tweets with photos get 313% more engagement than Tweets with out and 52% more Re-Tweets. The mobile age has also successfully contributed to the drop in the average human attention span from 12 seconds down to 8, less than that of a goldfish. Which means that the opportunity to captivate your audience’s attention is effectively shrinking.
The connected age has given us unprecedented access to target audiences, but we now also have less time to get our point across. Adding connection points across various social channels and devices also increases the opportunity for messaging and data saturation of the consumer, which is why your engagement needs to instantly digestible and relevant.
Social media enables any user to become a thought leader, pushing content sharing to a fever pitch as users try to demonstrate their knowledge of a specific topic, trend or industry to increase visibility and credibility. Marketers aren’t the only ones trying to build a brand; we’re all in hot pursuit of our next intelligent, data-driven, shareable piece of content.