Watch out for infographics

Every week there are new things to uncover that can support communication. In the modern era with social media there is so much happening that it can be hard to keep up-to-date with what is out there. There are new applications, new channels and new methods of communication. We might not have heard about them now, but we have to keep in touch with developments. These new methods of communications provide more opportunities to reach people whether inside or outside the organisation.

I have written many times about the importance of visual elements to communication. Social networks are brought alive by photographs and video, and there are many ways to make the most of communication through the visual medium. This week I started to consider something that is starting  to capture people’s imagination – infographics. It isn’t something I have been aware of until one of my colleagues highlighted it as a possible solution to a problem under discussion.

Infographics, when done well, provide a visual representation of key data in a simple format hopefully on just one piece of paper. Simply, it is a way to present data in an organised and visual way which makes it easy for the viewer to digest. It is the kind of thing that is great for representing plans, statistics, annual reports and things that are usually lengthy and slightly dull documents that rarely get read by the intended audience. I don’t think these large documents were ever really read by the majority of staff or customers and yet they are still produced and circulated.

Social media has made information more direct and instant than ever before. Twitter, for example, provides bite sized chunks of information in just 140 characters. So, why then would the Twitter generation want to absorb pages and pages of text with a few graphs or charts? There has to be some way of connecting with them in a more engaging and interesting way. In some cases the use of infographics is going to help.

I don’t think infographics are new, the concept of graphics to display information has been around for a long time. But what is new is the way it can be developed and more importantly distributed through social networks both inside and outside the business. Given that working in communication is primarily about problem-solving it is essential to be aware of the solutions that exist and that you may be able to use. Keep looking out for good examples of infographics that might be able to inspire you in the future.

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