Although infographics have been around for a while, many people aren’t clear on what they are and how to use them. An infographic is a graphic display of data, information, facts, opinions, etc., intended to organize information in a visual, easy-to-digest manner to quickly and clearly help viewers understand the message. Often, infographics include photos, illustrations, statistics, and facts.
Infographics actually have been around for centuries. No doubt you’ve seen them throughout your lifetime, you probably just didn’t realize you were looking at one. One important infographic you likely encountered during your school years is the Periodic Table of Elements.
Today, many businesses use infographics to share important information. They are ideal for the veterinary industry.
Several of my Chicago-area clients used an infographic to help spread the word about the highly-contagious H3N2 Canine Influenza Virus when it first hit the United States in 2015. It was used by multiple veterinary clinics, local shelters, and news media, and was shared in print and via social media. It reached an estimated 100,000 people. This infographic was so popular that one of my colleagues discovered it at a local dog park. Someone, unknown to us, had likely come across the infographic online, printed a copy, put it in a clear plastic sleeve and tied it to the gate of a neighborhood dog park!
Studies show that the human brain processes visuals much faster than it processes words. The human brain is attracted to images. In fact, studies have shown that visual aids can improve learning by up to 400 percent. According to Professor William Bradford (“Reaching the Visual Learner: Teaching Property Through Art,” bit.ly/2Da6k4Z), 65 percent of people are visual learners, meaning they need to see a visual demonstration of what they are learning. Furthermore, research shows that people remember much more of what they see than what they read or hear. So, an infographic can be an important tool not only in sharing information, but also in achieving comprehension and retention.
Each day, the average American is bombarded with information. Smartphones, computers, email, social media, newspapers, billboards, radio, and television all provide a constant stream of information at rates never before experienced by humans. If you want to get your message across, you need to be able to cut through all the other messages.
Additionally, our efforts to share information are also challenged by short attention spans. According to a 2015 study by Microsoft, the average human attention span is now eight seconds—shorter than that of a goldfish (nine seconds). So it’s important to convey messages clearly, succinctly and in a manner that grabs an audience’s attention.
Infographics allow us to be clear and relevant, and to quickly get to the point using visuals. According to neuroscientists at MIT, the human brain can process images in as little as 13 milliseconds. For comparison, the average adult reads about 300 words per minute. By using an infographic, you can get your story told much more quickly and effectively despite people’s short attention spans and the clutter of information that they receive.
Infographics for veterinary practices
Veterinary medicine is particularly well suited to the use of infographics. Many single-issue topics, such as canine influenza virus, dental care, microchips, toxins, rabies, and others, lend themselves well to infographics.
Infographics can be printed and given to clients, displayed in examination rooms, posted on websites, and shared on social media. They help inform pet owners about important pet-related issues, making them more knowledgeable about the care of their pets, and as a result, better clients. They also position you as the expert on pet care and provide pet owners with a reliable source for accurate, timely information.
Infographics and social media
Visual posts on social media garner much more engagement (shares, comments, reactions) than posts without a visual element. That is certainly true of visuals in general and has been especially true for our clients when we use infographics to help share their message. In the August edition of Veterinary Practice News, I talked about using Facebook to promote your veterinary practice. In that article, I cited our success in using infographics as part of your Facebook strategy.
Infographics about lilies and cats, dogs and chocolate, canine influenza virus, and other topics regularly garner a great deal of traction on social media. Many infographics can be used multiple times throughout the year. An infographic about the danger of lilies to cats is appropriate for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, summer, and Thanksgiving—all times when lilies are commonly found in flower arrangements or blooming in people’s gardens.
Likewise, an infographic about chocolate and dogs gets similar traction and is useful for St. Valentine’s Day, Easter, Passover, Mother’s Day, Halloween and the winter holidays. Although it doesn’t usually get as much traction as the cats and lilies infographic, it is very popular.
Customized infographics on specific topics of interest to pet owners can help spread your name and position you as a go-to voice for pets in your community. With winter weather approaching, an infographic on cold weather dangers for pets shared on your Facebook page is likely to garner a lot of shares. A well-designed, attractive infographic also can help drive traffic to your website and boost your SEO.
Custom infographics are expensive. A heavily researched and professionally created custom infographic with original artwork can cost $5,000 or more—unnecessary for most veterinary practices. A quick search of the internet shows that even inexpensive infographics can be $700 or more. While there are plenty of free infographics on a variety of topics online, the problem with them is that they don’t have your logo and contact information. So while you are doing a good deed by sharing information, you are not necessarily maximizing the return on your efforts.
Your best bet is to use a combination of custom or semi-custom infographics and generic infographics from other sources for online sharing. Semi-custom infographics are a good, cost-effective alternative to the more expensive custom infographics. The key is to have the infographic be compatible with the rest of your marketing communications and look like it belongs to your clinic.
The future of infographics
Infographics are not a fad and are not going away any time soon. In fact, expect to see even more effective infographics in the future. Interactive infographics will likely increase in availability, making it even easier to further engage your targeted audience and lead them to additional information about the topic, your clinic, your team, etc. These interactive infographics will allow online viewers to click through for more information on topics.
The bottom line
- If you are not using infographics, you are missing out on an important opportunity to:
- Market your clinic
- Engage with your clients and other pet owners
- Drive SEO
- Position yourself as a leading voice in animal health and wellness in your community
In the best case scenario, infographics are part of a comprehensive public relations/marketing communications plan. At the very least, they should be an occasional part of your marketing efforts.
Virginia Mann is the president and chief influencer at Veterinary PR, a firm that provides marketing communications and public relations to the veterinary and animal health and welfare communities. She can be reached at Virginia@VeterinaryPR.com