Among the social media predictions for 2013 in this AllThingsD op-ed, I think the point that visuals will play a more important role in brand-created content is the one that has the most profound potential impact. The others – measure ROI, optimize for mobile and more – are all sound, but there’s nothing that is so important for how the idea of content creation needs to adapt and change.
I’m not actually talking about infographics here. Those are (when done well) fine and can be really interesting, especially if they’re designed with a specific audience in mind. More than that I think it’s data visualization that has the most potential to make for compelling brand journalism.
Two examples of this that have caught my eye recently are Foursquare’s recent map of the last 500,000,000 check-ins around the globe. It’s a fascinating look at what people are doing with the app. And the fact that it’s interactive is even better.
The other is Twitter’s Oscars Index, which shows how often people have been talking about the movies that wound up getting Oscar nominations. Again, with some interactivity, this allows for the reader to really dive in and get some interesting information on what’s being presented.
Both of these can be turned into static infographics that can be shared on various social networks, yes, but how much more engaging are they for being interactive elements you can get your hands dirty with a little bit?
These are extreme examples and not every story is going to warrant something as time-intensive to produce. But the axiom “Everything gets a graphic” is going to be even more important for managers of social publishing programs to live by if they want to see their content spread by the audience. Studies consistently show that readers engage much more often and fully with multimedia, so it’s time – past time, really – to start thinking visually.