The Internet is full of infographics that lack fundamental direction or purpose. These types of information designs can be ineffective as a communication tool as well as a time and labor drain on your organization.
Before jumping into the design phase there are a couple of important questions you should ask yourself: What is the purpose of your infographics? What goals does your organization hope to accomplish by using infographics as a communication tool?
UNDERSTANDING YOUR AUDIENCES’ INFORMATION NEEDS
To help shape your infographic objectives, it’s important to understand:
• The audience you are creating infographics for AND
• What information your infographics need to communicate.
Your audience is comprised of different people that will have questions about your products, services, and organization—they could be customers, prospects, employees, investors, suppliers, and partners. The more effectively you can serve these information needs, the greater the likelihood that you will be able to make a connection with your audience.
The information needs that guide your organization’s infographic decision-making will vary depending on the type of audience you are communicating with. Internal stakeholders such as employees may have different information needs than external audiences such as customers, prospects, or suppliers.
The first step in identifying content requirements is to assess and categorize your different audiences.
Different Types of Audiences
In a business context many people think of two types of audiences: potential customers and existing customers.
However, from a communication perspective, you need to recognize that your organization has multiple audiences, each of which varies in importance depending on the purpose of your business, the sector you are in, and so on. Consequently, your infographics will vary based on the differing information needs of each of these audiences.
Here are a few examples:
- Customers—Existing clients, consumers, or members are interested in information that make it easier to do business with you.
- Infographic ideas: product/service features and benefits, pricing, customer service process, new ideas and concepts.
- Prospects—Potential customers are looking for quick answers to their buying questions.
- Infographic ideas: product or company timelines, pricing, product/service features and benefits, organizational structure, business and/or service models, ideas and concepts that highlight thought leadership.
- Employees—Knowledge and understanding are important to internal stakeholders.
- Infographic ideas: business models, process flowcharts, ideas and concepts, training materials, organizational structure.
- Job candidates—Potential employees need information about culture and structure.
- Infographic ideas: organizational structure, business model, company timeline, company values and personality.
- Partners—Prospective vendors or partners look for information about the flow of products and services.
- Infographic ideas: visualizing the supply chain, map of distribution networks.
- Media—Traditional and online media are looking for information about your organization or industry.
- Infographic ideas: industry research findings, sector ideas and concepts, organizational structure.
SETTING INFOGRAPHIC OBJECTIVES
Setting objectives allows your organization to gauge the success of your visual communication initiatives. It also helps you focus on the greater purpose of your infographics—the business outcomes.
Like any set of goals, your infographic objectives will vary depending on your organizational situation. The following are a few examples to get you thinking about some of the end goals related to your infographics:
- Thought leadership—“To create infographics that share important industry ideas and concepts and highlight our strategic thinking”
- Awareness—“To create infographics that are ‘sharable’ and create awareness of our brand”
- Traffic—“To create infographics that drive traffic to related pages on our company website”
- Communication—“To create infographics that make it easier for employees to understand company information”
- Entertainment—“To create infographics that entertain our customers and showcase our corporate culture and personality”
If you want to get more serious about setting your infographic objectives, consider using the SMART methodology (specific, measureable, attainable, relevant, and time-based).
SMART criteria normally are applied to objectives associated with strategic initiatives such as plans and projects. Because infographics are part of your communication mix (a strategic component of your business), it makes sense to approach these objectives the same way.
To illustrate, let’s convert the preceding “awareness” example into a SMART objective:
- Before: “To create infographics that are ‘sharable’ and create awareness of our brand”
- After: “To have [insert infographic title] get shared 100 times on Twitter and/or Facebook (combined) within 30 days of publication”
Setting infographic objectives helps your organization assess the viability and performance of your infographic content. Objectives also help you figure out which infographics are working and which ones are not. This helps guide your decisions about creating and fine-tuning future content and positions your infographic communication to become more relevant and effective over the long term.
This is the second post in a 4-part series covering some of the themes included in The Power of Infographics: Using Pictures to Communicate and Connect with Your Audiences – my new book now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Que and Indigo.