Friday, 15 November 2013

Content marketing and the print versus infographics debate

We’ve all come across the mantra ‘content is king’ but have we really understood what that implies in the digital world? Yes, we understand that consumers skim and scan online information more than printed mediums. Their behaviour has changed, driven by the need to make faster decisions whilst faced with masses of available data. Another mantra we’ve come across is ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ but that has been hard to prove until now.

Enter the ‘infographic’: a structured visual analysis of a lot of information presented in a visual way. These might look easy to understand and relate to, but they represent a lot of hard analysis of data and the facility to represent this graphically. These are increasingly important skills that have been neglected. Infographics don’t come cheap but they can pay for themselves in the number of people who look at them, the time spent with them and the number of recommendations they get for others to look at them. All these aspects ring the bells for content marketers.

Take for example Accenture’s Infographic of their report for ‘Turbulence for the CMO: Charting a path for the seamless customer experience’, which is based on their survey in 2012 of CMO Insights. We’ll draw your attention to point number 3, 65% of CMOs say digital focus of the company is important but only 7% sat their performance is leading edge. And, point 5 where they want to drive digital orientation throughout the company but 16% meet internal barriers. Equally, apart from those stats and what they mean to us in the digital industry, the medium of the infographic itself is significant. There’s a good deal of synthesis of data presented graphically.

The principle that you need to ‘entertain and educate’ with your content was strongly expressed in the 2013 Content and Marketing Show as discussed in Quba’s blog 12th November, ‘Entertainment, Eyeballs and Personas: insights from the 2013 Content and Marketing Show’.

Doesn’t the concept of infographics (also referred to as data visualisations) meet this principle if handled correctly? Just look at the buzz around Time & Space Visualiser: The story and history of Doctor Who as data visualisations, a book by Paul Smith about Dr. Who that has been controversial for its comedic look and feel (infographic?). Isn’t it designed to entertain and educate?

Where is this leading? Well, Shell Robshaw-Bryan has strong views in her analysis of ‘9 Marketing Insights to Drive Online Success in 2014’, 28th Oct. 2013, where her 9th point emphasises creativity, agility and innovation are needed to grab and hold the attention of audiences. Would infographics fit here? Actually they might help answer some of her other points too – all worth noting.

The rise of ‘Instagram’ and ‘Pinterest’ as social media offshoots is causing a stir in marketing circles too. Instagram is more visually driven while Pinterest lends itself better to sharing visuals than Tweets allowed. There are interesting stats on these at Digit*ally, where more infographics are evident on the Content Marketing page.

However, to be fair, we will try to place the push for infographics in a wider context by mentioning that print content is not dead. Quocirca Insights, November 1st, cover ‘Print Renaissance’, in this digital world. Tangibility, Trust, Retention and Digital Integration are cited as strong reasons for not throwing print out with the bath water. After all, we are print-biased here, as you see, so how could we not promote the balance?

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