Why #highered institutions should give infographics a second look

March 1st, 2011 Karine Joly 9 Comments

A picture is worth a thousand words.

But, what about an infographic?

Rumor has they might be worth millions of dollars – which is probably why they have multiplied like crazy for the past few months. A good one can get you featured on Mashable, the Holy Grail of online PR. It can result in thousands of retweets, likes, links and clicks. No wonder the online education lead generation industry – among others – has been churning infographics out like there’s no tomorrow.

While I was doing research for the online graduate course about social media campaigns I’m currently designing and writing for SNHU, I stumbled upon this great one created by BuzzFeed (and published on TechCrunch) last September. This infographic does a really good job at explaining the mechanics behind this business of infographics (it’s long, so please scroll down even if you don’t read it, to see where I want to go with this).

Infographics about infographics

If you set aside the keyword spamming part, this looks like a really smart way to get some recognition by repackaging and sharing interesting data.

So, how come higher ed institutions don’t use this tactic yet?

Knowledge, expertise, research data and study results are aplenty in colleges and universities.
While graphics skills might not be as widespread, they can be identified inside or outside the institution as well.

The editor of your institutional magazine might even be able to help find a resource for your next infographics.

Higher ed magazine editors have started to incorporate more of them within the columns of their print publications. Jeffrey Lott shared a great example last November at the CASE Conference for Publication Professionals in New Orleans. Jeff had included this great infographic (created by Nigel Holmes/Explanations Graphics) in the October 2010 issue of his magazine, Swarthmore’s Bulletin, to present the Class of 2014.

I don’t think this type of information – while very relevant for all your constituents – would get a lot of coverage or links (although it might on local media or websites and would be a hit for prospective students or parents).

However, research findings, student projects or even data about academic programs presented this way will definitely get more online mileage than they would if they were only packaged as a press release or a web page.

To make this work, the infographic should have a Share Alike Creative Common License with a sharing code easy to copy and paste. This will ensure that people can embed your infographic on their websites, blogs or share it on Facebook, Twitter and the likes.

So, what do you think? Am I onto something? Have you heard of any institutions already using infographics this way? Share with the rest of the class by posting a comment!