This infographic marketing effort was done by measuring chatter at SXSW 2013 with Meltwater Buzz, analyzing the data to find the narrative, and working with a great designer to execute the graphic. Four consecutive days of infographics were picked up Mashable, leading to over 5,000 shares and millions of impressions.

Pop quiz: What’s the difference between an infographic and data visualization?

The answer is… (wait for it)…

…marketing.  And it’s good marketing, too: would you rather click on an article called “Grumpy Cat Data Visualization,” or “Grumpy Cat Infographic?”  The “info” is the data, and the “graphic” is the visualization of that data.   When we consider infographic marketing, it’s critical to remember that the data comes first: infographics shouldn’t just be pretty pictures.

Put simply, infographic marketing is using data visualization to communicate facts or a point of view in a way that engages a target audience.  Because digital marketing lends itself so well to imagery, infographic marketing is an important part of social media and content strategy as well as modern, tech-forward PR strategy.

PR Tip: Reporters like infographics because they hook readers.  Good infographics showcase complex data in an engaging, digestible way, and are a great way to spark social sharing.

In a perfect world, your infographic marketing will start social conversations by creating engagement with your target social communities.  So how do you make your infographic marketing compelling?

Infographic Marketing Made Simple

1)   Focus on the data first.

What are you measuring?  Why are you measuring it?  Good infographic marketing showcases data that provides some sort of insight to your target audience.  If you’re looking to create compelling infographics with regularity and you’re at all interested in measuring public opinion, my best advice is to use some sort of social intelligence tool with strong social monitoring capabilities.

2)   Create a visual narrative out of the data.

Storytelling is at the heart of good content.  When you’re data mining, remember that the purpose is to find insights of interest to your target audience.  Infographic marketing tells a compelling story to its audience.

3)   Use a really good designer.

When all is said and done, this is a graphic.  Compelling imagery makes for more social sharing.  If you have the budget, using an excellent graphic designer will yield the best results.  You can use free tools like Piktochart (which is my favorite of the free tools), but be forewarned: it will take you 6-8+ hours to create a really, really good infographic, and even then it’s not likely to be as good as one created by a professional designer.  If you are working with a designer, be prepared to give a great deal of direction.  Designers aren’t going to typically want to sift through Excel spreadsheets or intelligence reports, so you’ll need to tell them what the interesting data points are, what you want called out, and what ideas you have as to how it should look and feel.  The SXSW summary infographic featured here took me 3 hours of data mining, analysis, and art direction with my designer.  It earned 1.4K shares on Mashable, making the effort well worth the time it took to get it right.

Remember, a picture really is worth 1,000 words… or in this case, 1,000 lines of Excel data.