ImageNever underestimate the power of the infographic. Quick to read, visually appealing, and easily digested, people online absolutely love infographics. And they have an astounding amount of staying power. Back in July, my company released an infographic on the seven fastest growing industries of 2013, and six months later it is still being reblogged and reposted, which ultimately drives traffic back to our site, and our business. Since this was our first infographic we expected it would only get a few views. Instead the response and shares went above and beyond anything I could have imagined, which caused me to wonder what separates a strong infographic from a weak one. Countless infographics are constantly being released by businesses hoping to see the kind of reaction we did, but never get more than a couple hundred hits. Releasing a new graphic at the beginning of the year can help drive traffic all year long, but if it is poorly made, it’ll just wind up sitting on your company blog and never really go anywhere. After looking around a bit, I narrowed down the elements of most of the successful infographics generated by for-profit businesses to three points.

Stay relevant to your industry

Infographics that perform the best visually display hard data – not your opinions, or your best qualities, or a list of your favorite books. Your infographic should be based around whatever industry you work in and the facts therein. Just as with blogging, you can’t just turn an infographic into another form of self-promotional advertising for your business – that won’t stick and no one will want to plug it for you. The best way to start spreading brand awareness is to find hard, statistical data that related to your industry to design your infographic around. Give your reader a reason to read the graphic and engage with it and they will. Use it as an opportunity to blatantly plug whatever it is you do or talk about how awesome you are, and it’ll be ignored.

Pay your designer

Our company is lucky enough to have an awesome in-house graphic and web designer, but I understand that many start-ups cannot afford a salaried designer. It’s a good idea to look into contacting a graphic designer to help you out especially if it’s your first time putting together an infographic. The goal is to have the infographic circulate and gain traction online and if it looks shoddy or is full of misspellings and misquoted information, it will reflect poorly on your company. Avoid relying on clichés or pointless themes – I remember seeing an infographic put out by an SEO company that, for whatever reason, was built around pictures of ducks. The information was relevant to SEO, but the ducks were out of left field, and I have a feeling they trusted someone without design experience to put their graphic together. You’ve probably invested in signage, logo design, and possibly even corporate merchandise – consider your infographic akin to other forms of branding for your business.

Post it properly

Don’t scale down your infographic to fit on your blog. Infographics should have an actual message to them, which means you’ll have to include some text. But the minute you start scaling down, some of your text is going to become illegible. Opt for a Lightbox instead or link to a larger version of the graphic. It is also good for marketing to put a link to the infographic into some of the outlets you contribute to. However, don’t just pitch a piece that is the information from the infographic in paragraph form. Offer an interview, or write on a related story, and put the link in there. Make sure your infographic has a good title too. I usually try to figure out what the average person would Google in order to find the information in my graphic. When in doubt, go back to the research stage – what were you searching for when you found the data that eventually became your infographic?

Only a few infographics ever really become viral, and most will never skyrocket into the internet hall of fame. But the internet hall of fame shouldn’t be the main focus for your infographic anyway – taking the time to research the market and carefully write up and design the image should be your main priority for your business’ infographic. So long as your infographic informs or educates your readers about a subject that is interesting and hasn’t been covered to death, it will be worth the investment of time and money that you put into it.