Infographics, Motion Graphics, & Beyond: How to Tell Data-Powered Stories

By May 14, 2019 January 6th, 2020 Visual Storytelling
Infographics Design Visual Communication

Businesses today have access to more data than ever. But many are struggling to make meaning out of that information. Data visualization in infographics, motion graphics, interactive infographics, and other visual formats have the power to illuminate that meaning.

The sources of big data for businesses are multifold. Marketing departments track traffic and interactions through Google Analytics; project managers (like our team at Killer Infographics) use such tools as 10,000ft to analyze the time they spend on projects; and distribution teams manage logistics along the supply chain. The result of these efforts is often a spreadsheet filled with thousands of raw data points.

In the past, many businesses have turned to infographics as an effective means of visualizing their most important data, and telling a story around that data. After all, graphs and charts visualize information in such a way that larger trends and patterns become immediately visible. But while infographics are a great option, they’re not your only option.

Let’s take a look at 5 visual mediums that you can use to tell data-powered stories, and discuss when each medium might be the right fit for your goals.

1. Infographics

We’ll start with what has now become a classic medium for data visualization — the infographic — before diving into other formats. After all, there’s a reason companies return to infographics again and again to get their message across. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of using infographics, and when you should use them to tell your story.

Advantages

Infographics …

When to use infographics

  • When you want visual content to accompany an article or blog post
  • When you need thought-leadership content that’s adaptable to different platforms

2. Motion Graphics

When it comes to visual storytelling, you have a broad choice of mediums: infographics, motion graphics, social-media micronarratives, interactive content, and more. So why choose a motion graphic to tell your story?

Motion graphics are animated videos that are uniquely equipped for telling stories that don’t lend themselves well to live-action video — such as the history of an app-building company — or that would benefit from data visualizations, abstract images, metaphorical visuals, and more.

Let’s take a look at this motion graphic, which tells the story of how reinsurance can help in global catastrophes, interspersing key data visualizations to help bring that story to life:

There are 3 types of motion graphic, and each achieves a different goal:

  • Explainer motion graphics elucidate a product, process, or concept.
  • Promotional motion graphics endorse an initiative, product, or service.
  • Emotive motion graphics seek to elicit a specific emotional response from the audience.

To learn more about each of these types of motion graphics — as well as when and how to use them — check out our free ebook, “3 Types of Motion Graphics to Enhance Your Content Strategy.”

Advantages

Motion graphics …

  • Have broad appeal in an environment in which more than 75% of internet traffic is video
  • Boost conversions by an average of 80%
  • Are uniquely equipped to deliver narratives in a chronological or specific order
  • Offer a way to tell your story that isn’t limited by what you can film, or what footage you can afford to buy, as in the case of live-action video
  • Can include custom voiceovers and music, which can expand your storytelling capabilities and increase emotional connection with the viewer

When to use motion graphics

  • When you want to speak to a broader range of audiences
  • When you want to explain a concept or process
  • When you want to promote a product or service
  • When you want to tell an emotionally driven story supplemented by data

3. Interactive Infographics

One of the greatest advantages of interactive design is that it empowers your audience to explore the data that’s most interesting to them. This can help you keep their attention longer, and help them feel that your content is more personalized to them.

Consider, for example, why an interactive map is so useful. If one of your website visitors lives in Oklahoma, they’re probably only interested in data about Oklahoma — so why make them scroll through an incredibly long infographic, or watch a motion graphic, about states that just don’t interest them? Check out this interactive map for an example:

Advantages

Interactive infographics …

  • Boast a 70% conversion rate
  • Help your audience more quickly view the content that interests them most
  • Personalize your content to each viewer, improving the intimacy and quality of the experience

When to use interactive infographics

  • When your story is best told in a non-chronological fashion
  • When you have lots and lots of data to share
  • When only some of your data will be interesting to each reader

4. Social-Media Micronarratives

If you’d like to optimize your data for social-media sharing, try a social-media micronarrative. This approach involves a series of bite-sized data visualizations that are optimized for each channel on which they’re posted. Each offers a quick, interesting data point, but working together they tell a larger story.

Here’s an example of a social-media micronarrative that the Killer Infographics team created during and after the 2016 presidential election. Called Numbers2Unite, the series was designed to offer a neutral look at the facts around hot-button political issues. The data does the heavy lifting when it comes to the storytelling in this series:

Brands often break up longer infographics or motion graphics into smaller bits to share as social-media micronarratives. That way, the highly shareable social assets can drive traffic to the infographic, motion graphic, or other longer piece of visual content.

Advantages

Social-media micronarratives are …

  • Quick to read
  • Highly shareable
  • Great at building interest over time

When to use social-media micronarratives

  • When you have several compelling data points that can stand alone
  • When you want to drive social media traffic to a landing page where a longer piece of visual content lives
  • When you want to tease gated content, such as an ebook or whitepaper
  • When you’re looking to boost your social engagement

Curious what visual communication can do for you?

5. Visual eBooks

The average ebook might explain how to do something, outline steps in a process, or serve to deliver the results of a study. But every ebook should also tell a story.

Today’s consumers want the stories that brands tell to be backed by real, measurable evidence. That’s why data-powered storytelling is particularly effective in the present-day environment of fake news and consumer wariness.

When you’ve got a longer story to tell, one that will provide real value to your customers, you may decide to create an ebook. Given that audiences will only read 20% of a web page with 600 words or more, you’ll need to punctuate your text with a lot of visuals to keep readers’ interest. You might include data visualizations, icons, illustrations, or embedded motion graphics. But whatever you choose to do, you’ll want to make sure you put the visuals first, letting them drive the story, in order to achieve the highest-quality visual communication possible.

Advantages

eBooks …

  • Tell longer stories supported by evidence and data
  • Explain steps in a process or how to do something new
  • Offer greater value to customers, building trust in the process

When to use ebooks

  • When you want to generate a list of potential leads with gated content
  • When you want to tell a longer, more complex story
  • When you want to share the results of a study or survey

There are as many ways to tell a story as there are stories. But when you want to tell a data-powered story, nothing can do the job like visual content.

Erin McCoy

Author Erin McCoy

Erin McCoy is director of content marketing and public relations at Killer Visual Strategies. She earned her BA in Spanish with minors in French and Russian, and holds 2 master’s degrees from the University of Washington: an MFA in creative writing and an MA in Spanish literature. She has won nearly 2 dozen awards in photojournalism, and has dedicated those skills to boosting Killer’s brand recognition and thought leadership in visual communication. Since Erin took on her marketing/PR role, Killer has been named a member of the Inc. 5000 for 4 years in a row; has been featured in such publications as Inc., Forbes, Mashable, and the Huffington Post; and has been invited to present at such conferences as SXSW and SMX Advanced.

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