Impact of Infographics on Journalism, Content Marketing

No, it’s not your imagination. Infographics are everywhere these days. Quite seriously, there is at least one blog that features infographics daily. Cheekily, here’s an infographic about the rise of infographics and a spoof post, just to prove how ubiquitous infographics have become. Infographic

As Six Estate, we pride ourselves on our use of ethical journalism as a content marketing method. The content we produce on our clients’ behalf always is meant to satisfy two masters: first, journalistic integrity — i.e., content that presents a researched perspective — and second, content curation — i.e., selective news presented for the establishment of thought leadership, including inherent marketing purposes.

Just a few years ago, it would appear that these missions would be at odds. Yet, as journalism evolves and marketing is increasingly value-focused, it seems convergence isn’t just inevitable, but also a powerful self-selecting method of information gathering.

Infographics themselves represent these converging trends. Part of their appeal is the ability to offer a coveted at-a-glance understanding of complicated topics. They neatly compress data and drive clicks.

Witness the startup Visual.ly, which fills the gap between withering full-time art departments in both newsrooms (journalism) and ad agencies (marketing), and adds consumer demand for new ways to explore and understand data.

Do Infographics Weaken Journalism?

A poorly researched or executed infographic can be just as common as junk reporting or a badly written blog post.

Linda Forrest of Francis Moran & Associates neatly summarizes the journalism/infographic debate here:

Data visualization is nothing new, but in recent years, this approach has gained significant traction as a tool used by marketers and journalists alike. There is significant criticism of the overuse of the tactic, and arguments abound that they are more about style than substance.

Best practice: Just as good journalists credit sources, list all relevant data sources within the infographic. Clearly state who produced the infographic, too. A recent favorite of mine that artfully combines data and transparency is Massive Health/Column Five’s infographic “Carbs Are Killing You.”

Are Infographics a Plus or Minus for Content Marketing?

Surely, a researched and well-produced infographic is a definite plus to content marketing effort because it can be so enticing to share. However, quality matters.

Best practice: Give your infographic the best chance of being seen and shared with a comprehensive social media/PR strategy. Don’t forget that infographics can also be used as a great internal communications tool, too.

In summary: Infographics are a natural convergence along the evolution of journalism and content marketing, and, when crafted carefully, can be an excellent tool.

About Katie McCaskey

Katie McCaskey is SixEstate’s content director. She tests real-world application of content marketing techniques using the cafe she co-owns as a laboratory. She was Tech Editor of Chief Content Officer, 2010-2011, and contributes to the Content Marketing Institute. Connect with her on Google+ or @KatieMcCaskey.

  

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