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How to use data to create strong visuals

How to use data to create strong visuals

Matt Cooper, CEO, Visually: The key best practice here is to use every part of the buffalo. If you create one tent-pole piece of content such as a data-visualization video or an interactive site, then look to carve it up into multiple pieces of creative derivative content that are optimized for a variety of marketing channels. For example, if you have a video asset, look to take screen grabs of the stills that are most impactful in telling your story. Then distribute those screen grabs over a few days or weeks as micro-content on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook or other social channels. Another example is to take that same video asset and peel off 6 to 15-second segments to share on sites such as Instagram and Vine, which have strict short-form video requirements.

What about mobile? How can brands ensure their visuals will be viewable on mobile devices?

Matt: Keep it simple and snackable. We recently did a survey at Visually of 664 consumers. What they told us is that they want to consume content on mobile devices that's presented simply and as bite-sized micro content. So look at your content and decide what's the simplest way to present it for mobile users. This could mean that you use straight text broken down into a few succinct bullets. Or if you have a data visualization, try to use as little text as possible and rely on the images to tell your story so users aren't forced to zoom in to read tiny text. For infographics, you can easily rework them for mobile devices. For example, distill the main points into headlines, eliminating the need for callouts, blurbs, and supporting text paragraphs, and reuse the graphic assets. Or turn each key point into multiple short infographics.

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How can brands craft an engaging narrative with data?

Matt: Start off by using quality data. All too often companies create infographics that cite unscientific internet polls or pull apocryphal statistics seemingly from thin air. I recommend that you first look at the data that resides within your own company or product. Are there any interesting nuggets of information or correlations that you can draw that shed light on your industry or consumers? Start there first. Then look to creditable third-party resources such as academic studies and government data. Or commission a poll by hiring a reputable research firm.

Next, find the emotion within the data. We usually think of numbers and math as being cold, not conducive to warm fuzzies, but the best data visualizations are able to produce an emotional response. For example, take a look at these charts that show incarceration rates for black Americans or global maps of human trafficking and how they're able to cause empathy by exposing us to harsh realities. Whether it's happiness, hilarity, sadness, or wonder, a good data visualization will evoke a strong response from the emotional side of the brain.
 

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