In a nation full of billions of messages through mass media consumption and our day-to-day, busy lifestyles, we’ve somewhat lost our attention span. We appreciate sound bites and headlines. We grasp shorter conversations and value faster service so we can get along with our day. Like it or not, American consumers can digest more information in a glance than they can by reading word-for-word. We just don’t have enough time to read. So, how do you take the wealth of information at your disposal and effectively simplify and present it in an engaging, faster and informative way? Infographics, my friends!
Infographics are graphic visual representations of data that are intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. The best way to explain an infographic is with another infographic.
Infographic source: http://www.idonut.co.uk
In health care, infographics can be used for just about anything. “They are great for primers on complex topics. I met Kadesha Thomas Smith, co-founder of CareContent.com, at last year’s WHPRMS annual conference. She offered a wealth of knowledge on the use of infographics and how we can really use them. For example, if you’re introducing patients to genetic testing services, you might have to include a lot of dense clinical explanations. Using illustrations, icons, and elaborate typography can help readers move through that content without sacrificing comprehension,” she says.
Here are 5 ways to use infographics in your health care content strategy:
1. Explaining complex topics
Such as hospital quality data and reporting. We all have to create a way to make it understandable to our target markets. Infographics are also great for topics that rely on data. “Sometimes numbers and stats can interrupt the narrative, conversational flow of web content. In that case, it may be best to pull those stats into an infographic,” Smith says.
She also mentioned “how-to” content for giving step-by-step instructions. “Electronics companies have been doing this forever. When you open your new TV, the user manual is mostly images guiding you through the setup process. That way, you don’t have to be an electrician to figure it out.”
Smith says health care communicators can do the same thing with medication and discharge instructions, interpreting lab results, etc. “It will no longer be okay to just give patients a stack of information, pat them on the back and say good luck. Health care organizations will have to ensure that patients understand that information well enough to act on it. Infographics are a helpful tool for that.”
2. Compelling, visual and viral
Due to infographics attractiveness the capacity for them to be shared on social networks and become viral is much higher than ordinary text content. But it’s important to remember that infographics are a creative tactical option for executing one piece of your content strategy. “Infographics are just one of many tails on the strategic marketing dog. If you are successfully generating leads with content presented in white papers, straightforward blogging, e-mail newsletters, perhaps you don’t yet need to find the bandwidth to jump into creating infographics to support your content strategy,” said Kern Lewis, writer and contributor to Forbes Magazine.
“We have to keep in mind that our content has one main barrier—the patients’ attention span. That’s what we’re all fighting for,” said Smith. “People are busy and constantly multitasking. Our goal is to help patients grasp the information quickly, without stumbling over something they don’t understand. If you had 2 minutes to spare and someone gave you the option of reading one page of straight text or perusing a one-page infographic, which one would you pick?”
3. SEO and web traffic
The viral nature of the infographic medium makes people link to your site and Google will index your website higher due to Google’s “Page Rank” algorithm. This increases the importance that search engines pace on your site. And like any content online, an infographic that is linked and compelling by nature will drive traffic to your website. Smith says a helpful tool to her is a blog post on how infographics help search engine optimization. (Featured above) It features an infographic on the use of infographics.
4. Establishes expertise
Just like blogging or any other kind of published material, the research required reaffirms your knowledge and positions you as an expert on your category or topic. The challenge with infographics is creating them so they make sense. In my research, there are new tools and platforms emerging that make creating them easier such as Statsilk.com and Visual.ly.
5. Repurpose content
Infographics can be a very useful tool in content strategy because they are incredibly versatile. “We even use mini-infographics in our narrative web features. They are also great for repurposing. In addition to using them on health care websites, they can be broken up and used for digital signage, print collateral and presentations,” said Smith.
A challenge to using infographics is, like most, was not designed for mobile devices. So if you’re looking at it on a phone, you’ll have to do a lot of pinching and zooming to read the text.
Have you used infographics in your marketing content strategy or seen any good infographics? If you haven’t, share why. If you have used them, please share in the comments section below: