Infographic Advice from the Experts – UK edition

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Neomammalian Studios has been at the heart of the UK content marketing world for nearly 2 years, working alongside some of the top industry experts. These experts continue to reshape the field of content marketing.

We have managed to pin down 6 of these elusive characters in order to share some of their wisdom. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Our Infographic advice from the experts – US edition is now available.

Lyndon Antcliff CornwallSEO

Lyndon

Lyndon has been producing successful content before it was called “content marketing.” He is an expert in linkbait and building content. Lyndon inspired me to follow the content marketing path after I completed his linkbait coaching course many years ago.

1. What advice would you give someone starting out in the world of infographics/content marketing?

Look beyond what the web is doing and get a sound grounding in how the English language is used to persuade and excite. A quick glance around you and you will see communication that is designed to attract, engage and cause you to react. Learn to suck in these messages and deconstruct in terms of persuasive marketing, be it supermarket offers, newspaper headlines, Tweets from wordsmiths, comic book covers, etc. The point is to not get hung up on the jargon and to look behind it to see understand how it works.

2. What is the best infographic/linkbait you have ever seen? Why?

Difficult to isolate one piece, but I thought the neomam Gangnham Infographic did it for me neomam.com/infographics/gangnam-style-infographicmashable/. The timing was right and it was well placed on Mashable. These are the things that make the infographic useful to us as marketers, it’s not simply about the design but all the stuff that goes on around it.

3. Give one tip for outreaching with large sites.

Do something useful for the person you are about to outreach to.

4. What is your opinion on the future of infographics?

The form will always exist and be useful, what will change is the way link builders are using the form. Clever link builders are using the thing they create for video, slides, guest posts, even mobile apps. Success is about reusing your assets.

5. Is there a book that has had a big influence on you or your work?

Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Suess

6. If you could only read one blog what would it be?

I assume that we are talking online marketing and not MMO. I would say that Econsultancy provide the highest signal to noise ratio that lets me know what I need to know. A lot of blogs are made up of filler and empty information calories. But Econsultancy avoids that and serves up stuff that makes me think and raw data that I can use.

 

Shelli WalshShellShock UK

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Shelli has produced some impressive infographics. She has 16+ years experience in design, and  an expert in her field.

1. What advice would you give someone starting out in the world of infographics/content marketing?

Successful infographics are a combination of three things:

· A strong concept/story

· Comprehensive research with niche data

· Stunning design

I have watched the explosion in the use of infographics over the last 12 months and unfortunately this has attributed to the demise of its reputation. The proliferation of weak content and bad design is fast destroying the integrity of the quality content that exists.

My advice would be to only produce infographics if you have the above requirements of a strong concept and good data to share. Producing infographics for infographics sake will at best get you a few placements on paid directory sites and not the wide scale sharing and engagement an exception infographic can deliver.

Find a good designer who has experience with data visualisation and pay them well. Traditional designers do NOT understand how to make an infographic. And please, SEOs, learn how to brief a creative.

2. What is the best infographic/linkbait you have ever seen? Why?

My favourite ever data visualisation has to be the London Underground map designed by Harry Beck in 1931 – the finest example of complicated information delivered in a simple and user-friendly visual form. I love instructional graphics such as the card you get in the airplane pocket that no one reads and I love motorway signage – elegant simplicity that everyone takes for granted. I used to spend hours pouring over the Highway Code when I was a kid.

A few of my favourite are:

The NY Times motion graphic for the Olympics Men’s 100 msprint – truly incredible visualization

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/08/05/sports/olympics/the-100-meter-dash-one-race-every-medalist-ever.html?smid=fb-share

MahiFX – You Vs John Paulson interactive – simply amazing with a strong emotional hook

https://mahifx.com/john-paulson/

Column Five – In Caffeine We Trust Poster – I love how this combines offline interactivity (you colour in the chart with your own coffee) and is a great example of linkbait from a very talented company.

http://columnfivemedia.com/shop/in-caffeine-we-trust-poster/

3. Give one tip for outreaching with large sites.

Spend time on developing relationships before you ask for anything. Give before you get. Or you can just get very lucky by sending something incredible through which is in the right place at the right time (but this is rare). My strongest piece of advice for outreach, and I am sure everyone will back me up on this, is to network and build contacts just like an old school PR.

4. What is your opinion on the future of infographics?

Right now Infographics are in danger of being destroyed as an amazing form of graphic design and content channel purely because of the spammy rubbish clogging up sites. I expect a production peak will be reached end of next year. The only way I expect that they can be damaged for link purposes is through paid directories, which will be hit with penalties in some form. This will have the knock-on effect as bad IGs will have nowhere else to go. Good, quality, engaging infographics will remain steady but I imagine will lose favour within a few years when they have been rinsed to death and people are bored and need something fresh and new. I expect an evolution into instructional graphics and comic based content and more motion/interactive graphics.

5. Is there a book that has had a big influence on you or your work?

I read extensively so I have too many influences to mention but three books (related to work) that changed my life are:

Napoleon Hill – Think and Grow Rich

Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends and Influence People

David Ogilvy – Confession of an Advertising Man

I would also like to add the designers who have been a big influence on my work are: Saul Bass, Massimo Vignelli and Jan Tschichold.

6. If you could only read one blog what would it be?

Just one! – not sure I can answer that. The Oatmeal? that guy is a genius.

http://theoatmeal.com/

 

Danny DenhardLead of SEO at VoucherCodes.co.uk

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I had been aware of Danny’s work for many years before I got the chance to finally talk with him around 6 months ago. He offers great pearls of wisdom, and we regularly share tips and war stories about promoting content across the web.

1. What advice would you give someone starting out in the world of infographics/content marketing?

My honest advice is:

· Think long and hard how you are going to create compelling content

· Have a killer hook

· Research your vertical – has anything worked before? Has anything flopped?

· Pick the best partners to work with

· Create a story and target a number of take away’s which work alongside your message as a focus point.

· At any point if you have doubts on the projects bin it or change it, if you are not behind the project it’s hard to sell to others

· If you fail with one, go again

If it does not pass the mum test will not pass the mass market test.

2. What is the best infographic/linkbait you have ever seen? Why?

Linkbait and infographics are often very different; the simple linkbaits are the best in my opinion.

To make it ultra-relevant, the ultimate SEO linkbait is the SEO Periodic Table – http://searchengineland.com/seotable

Something I think was incredible was Four More Years Tweet by Barack Obama – https://twitter.com/BarackObama/status/266031293945503744 incredible, simple and it works across all platforms.

Buzzfeed and the Daily Mail are incredible hubs of link bait.

Something which deserves a mention is the BBC’s recent work – Your Olympic athlete body match – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19050139

Infographics depends on the market and the message – my favourite to date is Wired’s Mad Men bed hopping infographic -http://www.wired.com/magazine/wp-content/images/20-02/pl_madmenmap_f.jpg It is simple, to the point and highlights one of the top story lines in Mad Men.

3. Give one tip for outreaching with large sites.

Personalisation. Know who you are contacting and what is their best method of communication – make it easy for them.

4. What is your opinion on the future of infographics?

I have a few theories, depending on your industry; I see it breaking down into a few areas –

· Personalisation – making a graphic personal to the user

· Simplification – less data more relevance

· Interactive (to a point) – if you have learned anything from the last few years, if your content is compelling or newsworthy then it will work if right eye balls see it. Infographics rarely force you do anything now, interactive (done right) make you want to do something. Two hurdles are the budgets and technology; they are both already limiting people, this won’t change next year.

· A movement for partnerships and trusted companies who can deliver.

5. Is there a book that has had a big influence on you or your work?

Without picking an obvious book (Groundswell) or a Gladwell book – The Thank You Economy was a solid read a couple of years ago and reinforced things I knew but helped me understand things from a broader mind set. If you are not sold on social media or whether social can drive sales this will provide good insight.

6. If you could only read one blog what would it be?

LinkedIn “Blog” would be the one blog I would pick – great content and great strategy from LinkedIn at the moment.

 

Claire StokoeSearch Consultant (viral & infographics) at Mediaworks

Claire Stokoe

Claire has been creating and outreaching infographics for a long time. She has a clear  understanding of how to build big relationships with influential sites.

1. What advice would you give someone starting out in the world of infographics/content marketing?

Make friends. You can be the best designer, trend spotter and analyst. But without friends to host & promotion your graphics – you are nothing more than a numpty that makes pretty pictures.

Look at other peoples work, there is never an original idea, someone somewhere will have done it before – your mission is to ‘do it better’.

When you do well, shout about it. I don’t do it enough and I should, and you should!

2. What is the best infographic/linkbait you have ever seen? Why?

1857 Florence Nightingale had to argue her case to Queen Victoria, against the deplorable sanitary conditions in military hospitals. To do this she showed that number of soldiers coming into the hospitals from the Crimean war were not only dying from their injuries but in fact dying from complications caused by sanitation. All the blue parts are men who died from preventable causes. She used this infographic and won her case.

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Modern infographic designers i like, you can’t go far wrong from http://theoatmeal.com/ . He is shocking and brilliant and commands the type of loyalty many governments would die for

3. Give one tip for outreaching with large sites.

Linkedin, its not just for pen pushing nob jockeys so use it

4. What is your opinion on the future of infographics?

It pisses me off when people call infographics a paradigm shift and then in the next breath ‘overused and annoying’. They have been around for centuries and they will be here for century’s to come, perhaps in the form of an interactive graphic, video or plugged into your friggin brain.

5. Is there a book that has had a big influence on you or your work?

Guy Kawasaki – Enchantment. It makes you realize that there is no box to think outside of.

6. If you could only read one blog what would it be?

If I could take only one site with me to an Island it would be ‘trendhunter

Pak Hou Cheung - Content Outreach Specialist at BlueGlass UK

Pak Hou Cheung

An expert in both social media promotion and link building, Pak Hou is a great source of information on any content marketing issue.

1. What advice would you give someone starting out in the world of infographics/content marketing?

My single best piece of advice for anyone starting out would be to just do your research. This sounds really basic – I know, but so many people just hear the “buzz” word infographic / content marketing and feel they should be doing it too, but not actually understanding the what and need for it in their industry.

Start by doing your research first. For example if you were to create an infographic use Google image search and see what there is already out there in your market and understand how your content will be better than what is out there already.

After the initial research and idea generation, just outreach to a small sample of your main target influencers and see if this is something that they would be interested in. Remember, bloggers are real people and loved to be asked opinions and thoughts!

Finally when you are ready to publish your content, you know that you have already secured a good sample of influencers who are already willing to publish your content.

2. What is the best infographic/linkbait you have ever seen? Why?

As I see so many infographics / linkbait stuff on a daily basis in some ways I have become numb to what most would say is an “amazing” infographic/linkbait. It’s actually the really crap ones which interest me a lot more! However, an infographic that stuck with me recently, fromThomson.co.uk, when they were giving out a free pair of 3D glasses to see their online infographic. It wasn’t actually the design itself that amazed me but the fact that they blended the online and offline together.

This is definitely something to think about in the future for digital campaigns; finding a way to work your offline and online activities together.

3. Give one tip for outreaching with large sites.

Understand who actually runs the site; the person behind the website that actually allows content to be published on there. Then find and interact with them via Twitter, Linkedin, G+ or even find them at random Meetups, that’s the best advice I can give.

 

Don’t just expect by sending a few tweets and messages to that person, they will allow you to guest post / publish your content on your site – these things take time!

4. What is your opinion on the future of infographics?

Infographics as a term will definitely stay and still have a future online. The term itself has now spawned different types of infographics which we are already starting to see such as:

1) HTML5 Infographics

2) Kinetic Infographics

3) Typography Infographics

4) Video Infographics

5) Video Interactive Infographics

I believe in 2013 and beyond these types of infographics will be used more often, especially for larger brands. I think they will be used as a tool for “branding/exposure” rather than to “generate lots of links”.

5. If you could only read one blog what would it be?

This is a hard question because I enjoy reading from a wide variety of sources and other people’s opinions. For online/marketing blog reasons I would recommend SEOmoz / Youmoz blog – just because it provides so much information from a wide variety of sources and what is discussed is usually bang on trend. For general blog reading, I would definitely just read Mashable – the stuff that it comes out with and curates is immense!

 

Andrew BurnettHead of Social at Yard Digital

AndrewBurnett

Andrew and I are past students of Lyndon Antcliff’slinkbait coaching course. Andrew is an expert in the social channels, thus he is my first point of contact when we are looking to promote infographics via social channels.

1. What advice would you give someone starting out in the world of infographics/content marketing?

Given the sheer abundance of content being created now, in particular infographics and content marketing articles, it becomes all the more necessary to create content that will stick out. For me, this means two things:

Quality - it may sound obvious, but infographics in particular are often poorly produced, which damages all involved. Designers, data-miners and agencies producing infographics become tarred with the same shitty brush as the text on jpeg peddlers. Clients look like they don’t care about their brand’s perception, and finally, to further amplify the negativity, consumers tire of seeing the same old homogenised drivel. So, focus on quality of design is essential.

Quirkiness - simply presenting data in a graphic form isn’t enough in my view. Give it that extra special angle that will get people talking about it to their mates… it doesn’t matter if it’s their mates on Twitter, Facebook or in the pub, the important part is that they talk and share. Think QI and the effect that the quirky facts there have, that’s what we’re after!

2. What is the best infographic/linkbait you have ever seen? Why?

David McCandless’ Billion Dollar-O-Gram is for me the best infographic I have ever seen. It combines minimalistic design with an incredibly rich comnbination of data to put billion dollar amounts into perspective. Also, what I love about this one is the fact that all the data used to create it is collated in a Google Spreadsheet for all to see. http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/the-billion-dollar-o-gram-2009/

3. Give one tip for outreaching with large sites.

Use your existing connections to forge new ones, everyone knows somebody who knows somebody. Once you make a connection at a large site, nurture that relationship – nothing world stopping about that I know, but it is the simple things that work.

4. What is your opinion on the future of infographics?

Particularly now that Google has said they want to discount links from infographics, I think that we will see more focus being put on quality and quirkiness, more Oatmeal, less piecemeal.

5. Is there a book that has had a big influence on you or your work?

I have long enjoyed the work of David McCandless, his book ‘Information is Beautiful’ is the standard to which I compare all infographics – he is practically uncatchable in terms of design and simplification of complex data sets, but to my mind his work encapsulates what all infographic producers should strive for. It is a fantastic body of work and quite stunning in it’s own right.

In terms of training your mind to present data in an interesting way, I’d highly recommend Edward De Bono’s book ‘How to Be More Interesting’.

6. If you could only read one blog what would it be?

Hmmm, what one blog would I read if I could only read one? For someone who uses aggregators to the degree I do, that is a near impossible question, or rather the answer is near impossible… can I count Twitter as a blog, just this once, please?

 

Thanks to our experts for taking the time to share their experiences. If you would like to tell us about your experiences or have any comments please share them below

Comments

  1. Nice bit of inspiration and some good links to get juices flowing. Funny about Florence Nightingale, wonder if she outsourced it.

    Cheers

  2. This is a really interesting set of interviews, well worth the time spent reading. Thanks

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