20 Mar How We Sent The Internet Into A Frenzy With One Viral Infographic
Have you ever imagined how one viral piece of content would improve your business? Well this is a complete breakdown of our first hand experience and how we managed to pull it off…
Without a significant audience to leverage off, our articles often don’t have the pull we wish they did. Even after spending hours writing, editing, and formatting, they still fall short with minimal popularity on social networks. To turn things around we had to create something that would be totally worth sharing. We were going to have to take our content marketing game, flip it on it’s head and step it up a notch.
Like we do on a regular basis, we crawl through pages upon pages of our favourite blogs and always noticed there was a consistent pattern. One particular style of content seemed to be hogging all the shares and soaking up everyones attention. This extremely popular type of content is commonly know as the ‘infographic’. So ‘share-hungry’ one Saturday morning I decided it was time to make a start on our first infographic and get in on a slice of the action.
Besides a great piece of content, this was something we planned to leverage off to build our social popularity and drive traffic to our website. An infographic would also introduce some variety to our blog and help to keep things interesting, not to mention it was a great opportunity to flex our creativity!
An infographic? Please explain...
Before I get stuck into the nitty gritty, I need to make sure you understand exactly what an infographic is. No it is not a jazzed up accounting term, in fact you’ll be pleased to know it is much the opposite. Although it does happen to be a bunch of statistics, numbers and facts, they are creatively presented to visualise this data in the most appealing way possible. With cool little diagrams, charts and visuals readers can easily skim over this data while learning real life stats surrounding a particular topic; in our case it was branding.
Still a little unsure? Treat your eyes to these few infographic examples here…
Putting in the groundwork for a viral infographic.
Lets take a close look into the foundations of our now viral infographic and why we did things a particular way. I believe these are the top reasons our infographic was a hit with readers on a global scale, and it all began with the title…
Don’t get the wrong idea, this title didn’t come about after a 30 second brainstorm, it was more like 30 minutes of scribbling different titles that would spark enough curiosity for readers to click through. I settled with this title for 4 main reasons:
By adding the number ’6′ to the front, readers instantly recognised this as a list article. Lists are always a favourite amongst readers in the blogging world, simply because they make a very specific promise of what’s in store. In fact, it has been proven list titles resonate with readers 15% more than any other format, with both males and females.
‘Ways To’ reinforced that promise, by saying this article will show you what you need to do.
With the words ‘Fall In Love’ in the title, this refers to the strongest possible connection a customer can associate with a brand. Just to top it off, I published this infographic just before Valentines Day, so it was very appropriate!
It sounds like the answer to a real world problem. Imagine how much better your life would be if every customer feel in love with your brand!
Here is an interesting fact I stumbled across on CopyBlogger…
“On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of your title, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece.”
It was a conscious decision to create an infographic that would break data down into 6 key points – no more, no less. This was not a number pulled out of thin, instead it was based upon an interesting study carried out by content mastermind Neil Patel. Neil discovered that infographics with 6 key points received considerably more tweets than any other number.
He also uncovered some other great facts that will determine how popular your infographic will be in the Twittersphere, such as these…
Vertical infographics are tweeted 28.9% more than horizontal infographics.
Infographics with a tight colour scheme get 14.1% more tweets than those with random colours.
When large fonts are used, infographics tend to receive 38.5% more tweets than infographics using reduced font sizes.
“Numbers don't lie” – Jay Z
To create a killer infographic it was crucial to dig up some mind-boggling facts related to our topic of branding. While this was time consuming and required a lot of sifting and filtering, it was certainly worth it. Admittedly some of them even shocked us!
One website that led to some really interesting data was FactBrowser. If you’re thinking of creating your own infographic, then this one is definitely worth a look.
Any facts I thought were interesting, I made a note of them as well as the source. After accumulating plenty of data, I went through and sorted them into groups and culling any that didn’t really fit in or just weren’t ‘mind-boggling’.
Since all the facts and statistics I used were researched by other people, it was important to mention them in the footer of our infographic, this does two things. Firstly, gives them credit where credit is due, almost like a small thank you for their efforts. Secondly, it’s proof these numbers are based on actual research, making the infographic more credible in the eyes of readers.
How we got the viral ball rolling.
With the infographic created, saved and patiently waiting to be spread like wildfire, there was just one problem standing in the way. Our website only averages about 50 unique visitors a day. With low volumes of traffic, this infographic was not going to spread very far at all if we were to just post on our blog alone. To avoid undesirable results, these are the few very simple things we did to send our infographic to viral status…
Low volumes of traffic or not, posting fresh content on our own blog is always step one. After all, this is the hub where all our sharing power branches from. Stats to date: Viewed 389 times, 115 shares
Often people will create a brilliant infographic and feel as though the hard work is done. What they should be doing is making that post as easy as possible for readers to share. This is why we added the pre-populated, bite-size tweets directly below the infographic, making it a simple two click process to share on Twitter. Readers didn’t even need to think of anything quirky to write, it was just a matter of click and go. I must mention the pre-populated tweets did also include a ‘shortened URL’ leading back to our infographic, for their followers to learn more.
If we really wanted to get this snowball effect in motion, then we had to take it one step beyond a share. We did this by encouraging our readers to not only share on social media, but to take it and use it on their own blogs as well. Cool huh? To make this action extremely painless, we placed an HTML snippet directly below the infographic for readers to copy and paste onto their own website. Included in the HTML snippet was also a source link back to our website. This not only helps drive new visitors to our site, but also creates backlinks to improve our SEO rankings over time.
Now a blog post wouldn’t be complete without a set of sharing buttons beneath, would it? On this note, we’ve recently swapped from the popular Shareaholic plugin that displays individual shares per social platform, to a plugin that combines total shares across all platforms once a certain number has been triggered. See the disadvantage of individual counters is they can indicate poor social proof to begin with, at least until the shares begin to pick up (if they do). This can also deter readers away from sharing, because often we don’t like to be first to do things.
With the infographic now published and ready for the online world to see, you could almost guess the next step… We shared it with our followers across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Although we did things a little differently. We split the infographics into 6 pieces, posting one at a time with a link back to our blog post for followers to ‘read more’. The cool thing about this is we made one piece of content stretch over 6 posts per social platform without having to recycle old ones.
Next, I sent a personal, no frills email to our subscribers (using MailChimp). Often subscribers are our biggest fans and enjoy links to quality content, so it would almost be un-loyal to keep them out of the loop, right? Stats to date: 56.8% opened (Industry average 18.5%), 34.1% clicked (Industry average 3.6%), 0 unsubscribes.
From there I began submitting our infographic to various sites around the net who showcase nothing but infographics. While I submitted to a total of 10 websites, I avoided any that required payment. I was also mindful to avoid the ugly websites that looked ‘spammy’, it’s likely they receive very little traffic and could potentially give dodgy backlinks, so would be no benefit. Although hindsight tells me, submitting to 10 different sites could have been a slight overkill. I say this because when we tracked the submissions, all shares and page views lead from just one site; Visual.ly. This site is the number one place for self submitted infographics with over 500,000 members. It’s free to join and you can begin posting right away. Stats to date: Viewed over 2,000 times, with more than 200 shares and ranked in the top 5% of all infographics.
Reddit was another site we used to extend the reach of our infographic. Admittedly I have never actually visited the Reddit website before, but discovered they have an infographic section and thought it was appropriate to contribute a link. We got a few visits from it, but nothing spectacular. Considering it took less than a minute to do, I would certainly do it again next time around. Stats to date: 36 clicks / visits
Tweaking our email signatures to include a ‘PS’ footnote was another little trick we used to link visitors to our site. Simple, but effective.
Our infographic was also tweeted about by some online heavyweights like Unbounce and Sprout Social. Combined, these two companies have more than 80,000 followers, so it’s not hard to imagine how this boosted us along.
Due to the efforts listed above, our infographic began to filter throughout the internet, featuring on popular blogs and social media feeds across the world. As this happened, it caught the attention of several blogs with serious muscle power, such as The Daily Muse, Yahoo Small Business and Revista PEGN (Brazil). These guys were vastly responsible for getting our infographic in front of thousands of readers and taking us one step closer to bagging the ‘viral’ label. Stats to date: The Daily Muse – 650 shares, Revista PEGN – sent 559 visitors to our website.
And then along came Mashable, who well and truly threw fuel on the fire (yes, Mashable)!! Once our infographic was in the hands of this media powerhouse they featured it as ‘What’s Hot’ on their home page, totally blowing our share count out of the water. To date it has racked up a whopping 15,500+ shares on Mashable! This is huge even on a Mashable scale, with most articles averaging around 1,000 to 2,000 shares.
The trick to a viral reach is often as simple as leveraging established audiences others have already built. As an example, by tapping into the huge following Visual.ly has grown, we were able to post our infographic and clock up hundreds of shares, views and new visitors within a matter of weeks. Note, this is just one source alone. The true power comes when you begin doubling and tripling up.
However, none of this will work if your content is weak. At the end of the day no one cares how many shares you get, neither are they interested in helping you spread your content – unless they find tremendous value from it. So be sure to put in the groundwork and build a solid foundation to begin with. This boils down to thorough research, interesting data, clever design and a great blog post to branch off from.
Did we receive any real benefits from this?
Now I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately shares and popularity don’t pay the bills (well not instantly anyway). So besides 16,000+ shares being great for the ego, you might be curious to know how (and if) we actually benefited from this exercise. Well lets take a close look at what happened as a result of this one infographic.
New followers. On the social front, we gained approximately 260 new Facebook likes on our fanpage in the space of a couple weeks. As well as 80 new Twitter followers within the same timeframe, plus a healthily amount of mentions.
New subscribers. Our subscriber list grew by approximately 10 people. This is certainly nothing to brag about and I will touch on the couple things we’ve done to catch more emails next time towards the bottom of this article.
Increased traffic. It’s estimated this infographic was responsible for driving between 1,000 and 1,500 visitors to our website during February and the early part of March. This is considerably higher than normal, which proves to us infographics are an effective strategy to increase the amount of visitors coming to our website.
Sparked conversations. After sending out an email to our subscribers, I received several responses, which is always a positive signal. They ranged from new quote requests, to compliments and questions.
Backlink benefits. Bloggers who stay true to the unwritten law of a ‘source link’ will have placed a link within their post mentioning One Deep Design as the source or creators when using our infographic. As it has now landed on many blogs, we expect there to be quite a few backlinks pointing to our site. Touching on what I mentioned earlier, this may drive additional traffic to our website, but will also help our website to rank higher in search engines (overtime of course).
Brand awareness. Across the bottom of our infographic was a branded strip stating ‘Infographic created by One Deep Design’ with our logo in plain sight. This is by no means enough for thousands of people to instantly recognise who we are, but if we maintain consistency and get in front of the same people again, they will begin to identify our brand.
Featured by. After Mashable featured our infographic on their website, I had great pleasure adding a ‘Featured by Mashable’ logo to our website. This is awesome for our social proof because Mashable are a highly trusted, recognisable source, making us look like the real deal!
Not seeing the huge spike in revenue?
While the ultimate goal is to attract a healthy stack of paid work, so far we haven’t received a paying project as a direct result of our infographic. However we did come close to creating the brand design for a hand-made shoe company in Brazil and creating an infographic for a US fitness startup, unfortunately they didn’t make it over the line.
Does this mean it was a wasted exercise? Absolutely not. Often I see entrepreneurs focusing solely on the ultimate goal (closing the deal), without taking into account the ‘mini-conversions’ along the way, such as new followers and subscribers. We even had a coffee shop owner from Boston tell us he loved the infographic so much he was going to print it out and post on his office wall. These mini-conversions often lead to highly valued customers further down the track. Content marketing is often a long term strategy without instant results.
How we plan to increase results next time around.
While we achieved results exceeding expectations, I’ve been racking my brain thinking about how we can create an even better result for upcoming infographics.
There was one thing that without question put a dampener on our results. This was the way our infographic on Mashable linked back to our website (or the way it didn’t). In a round-about way it linked back to our website in two areas on the post, but this is how it looked…
Mashable → Visual.ly → One Deep Design
Mashable → The Daily Muse → Visual.ly → One Deep Design
As you can see, if the post linked directly back to our website without the resistance in between, things would have played out a lot differently. But since this was out of our control, it got me thinking should we have created the entire infographic inline with our brand? This is one thing I look forward to testing what impact a branded vs. unbranded infographic has on the outcome.
An area we majorly fell short in was acquiring subscribers. From the amount of traffic that ran through our site during this period vs the amount of people who entered their email address to subscribe was embarrassing low. To avoid a repeat we’ve since tweaked a few things to create a stronger call to action.
One of them was creating a 70 page branding eBook titled 'How To Look A Million Bucks', this is a free giveaway to all of our new subscribers. A free gift has been used by marketing wizards for years, it is a well tested and proven method to capture more emails. This opt-in is now strategically placed underneath blog articles and as an ‘exit intent’ popup powered by Exit Monitor. Like the name suggests, this popup is only triggered when visitors look as though they are getting ready to leave, by moving their mouse above the window towards the back button / browser menu.
What you can take away from this.
With all the great feedback, comments and results we received from this one infographic alone, I first hand believe every company will benefit from creating an infographic for their audience. Even if you forget everything you’ve just read, be sure to remember these 6 takeaway points…
Infographics are an awesome source of content people love to share, because they are far more visually entertaining than any text article will ever be (…yes, like this one). Plus, unlike text articles, they can be re-posted on other blogs without the fear of landing in Google’s bad books for duplicate content.
While you are finding awesome facts to stun your readers, you will be surprised how much you actually learn yourself. Knowledge is power!
Track everything! Google Analytics will track the behaviour of visitors on your website such as clicks and referrals. MailChimp can be used to deliver all the stats you need to know about your email campaigns; open rates and click throughs, plus more. Follow the title of your infographic on Twitter so you can monitor who and how often it is tweeted. Facebook fanpages allow you to see the data on new likes and location etc. If you want to take things one step further, Crazy Egg is a brilliant plugin for tracking click and scroll behaviour across your site, with this data you can optimise your site to its full potential. Using Bit.ly you can create shortened URL’s to keep your social media posts neat and tidy, but the greatest benefit is through the Bit.ly site you can see how many times each link has been clicked on.
Remember after creating an amazing infographic, the hard work is not yet over. It is up to you to get the ball rolling by applying all the things I mentioned above, plus using any other tricks you can think of. Many people spend a ton of time producing a kick-ass infographic, but nowhere near enough time spent hustling it. Create a list of all the ways and places you can share your infographic prior to starting. In our case Mashable tipped our infographic over the edge, think who is the equivalent of Mashable for your industry?
Be mindful of the fact content often doesn’t go viral overnight. If it does happen, it could be weeks, possibly months from when you first posted it online. When it is picked up by a big player in your field, then the snowball effect will truly kick off.
Companies like KISSmetrics have a page on their site purely devoted to infographics. They rely heavily on infographics as a tactic to acquire new customers and it clearly works. (I would love to know a few of the statistics behind this).
If you’re hungry for more, then here are a few articles that brought us up to speed on how to achieve viral status.
Magnetic Headlines via CopyBlogger
How To Create A Popular Infographic via QuickSprout
5 Ways To Get Your Infographic To Go Viral via QuickSprout
How To Push An Infographic via Moz
Visual.ly for a truckload of infographic inspiration
Continue the discussion by leaving a comment.
I would love to hear about the weird and wonderful ways you have promoted your infographic, drop a line below… I will be responding to each and every comment!