6 Things All Viral Infographics Have in Common

Infographics can capture an audience’s attention quickly, no matter what purpose they’re serving or what industry you’re in.

The visual and often graphical nature of infographics can make them efficient tools to get your point across quickly, all in one visually dynamic and concise image.

Infographics can go viral in a snap, mainly thanks to how easily they’re shared and read. Having your infographic go viral either on social media or within industry resources can result in major link building and enhanced credibility.

Not all infographics are created equal, however, and only some go viral. After taking a look at hundreds of infographics, I’ve found that there are 6 things that (almost) every viral infographics have in common. 

1. They Have an Amazing Headline

Great headlines shouldn’t be kept to text-only content; having an amazing headline is perhaps the single characteristic that every single viral infographic shares, without fail.

Headlines will be the first thing that users see, and it will have a huge impact on whether or not they keep reading and it the content gets shared. Good headlines should appeal to your target audience. They should also be able to grab their attention and their understanding in just a quick glance.

Conciseness is king here, and the shorter, the better, so long as the title is accurate and still descriptive enough to let users know what they’ll be reading.

If you’re stumped on creating a killer headline, you’re not alone. My favorite resource for producing better, more-clickable headlines is from QuickSprout, located here.

2. They Feature Statistics

A ton of highly-shared infographics will feature statistics and backed-by-research data, especially those that are informational in nature. Statistics jump out at viewers, and they offer easy-to-digest factual evidence that can hold a lot of weight.

This infographic from Wick Marketing emphasizes statistics with larger font and colors that catch the eye.

Many well-circulated infographics not only have statistics, they actively highlight them; numbers and percentages show up in larger text or contrasting colors, and may be supported by graphs or pie charts. Many will also have a quick summary of what these numbers mean, even if it’s only a sentence or two, which cements the importance and impact of your argument.

Always quote statistics from a high-quality, trusted source, and use information that is as current as is possible. I wouldn’t want to provide data on Facebook ads cost today using information from 2012, for example; the platform and its costs have changed so much that it wouldn’t be relevant.

3. They Stay Manageable in Size

Infographics aren’t dissimilar from Goldilock’s porridge—it has to be just right. You don’t want it to be so short that it lacks in value, but you don’t want it to be so long that users won’t share it or finish reading it. Having an infographic that’s manageable in size, both for reading and sharing purposes, is a common characteristic all viral infographics share.

Your infographic might be shared less if it’s so long that it’s inconvenient to place in a blog post.

Size also matters when it comes to loading times; if the infographic is too large, it will take too long to load and could actually increase the number of users clicking away from your site and ultimately defeating the purpose. I’ve found that keeping the file size to 1.5 MB tops is ideal, and Kissmetrics recommends keeping any infographic to a maximum of 8,000 pixels.

4. They Utilize Visual Images

While the entire infographic technically counts as a visual, having multiple visual images within the infographic increases the likelihood of shares. Part of what makes an infographic so great is that it’s a graphic. While the information is relevant, a high-quality visual aspect can determine if yours goes viral or not.

This One World One Ocean infographic gets its point across (and brings emotions into play) with cartoon images of distressed marine life.

Visual images can include image graphics, charts, and graphs or pictorial representations of relevant data. These images will offer visual representations of the information you’re sharing, and it will help break up the content, making it easier to digest.

The images will also be important when it comes to social engagement, as few people would click on a picture that just looked like a giant block of text and nothing else.

This infographic from Scientific American is made up entirely of a single visual graphic.

This is an occasion where having a graphic designer on hand can be useful. You should never pull images that you don’t have the rights to use; this can result in major copyright issues. Talented graphic designers can create gorgeous illustrations that fit your brands’ needs.

5. They Stay Focused

You want your infographic to focus on one specific topic and goal. All the information and images should stick that focus.

A single, simple idea that’s well executed is powerful enough to make your point.

It’s shockingly easy to get just slightly off-topic, especially when we find some really amazing information that we naturally want to share. I’ve seen amazing infographics that slide into this territory, and it lessens their overall effect.

I once saw an infographic that broke down Facebook Ads results, including costs, conversation rates, and engagement rates, but got off topic by throwing in random facts like Facebook revenue information. This may have somehow been relevant, but the connection wasn’t explained. It just felt unnecessary. The infographic would have been stronger with its omission.

Focusing on one specific topic not only keeps your user focused too, but it also helps you dig into more detail with one idea instead of trying to cover multiple topics. This specificity will set you apart and enables you to create an infographic of more value.

6. They Have Plenty of White Space

Most viral infographics have plenty of white space throughout them. While it may be tempting to cram as much content as possible onto a small space, this normally backfires. Instead, it often results in the visual becoming completely overwhelming for users.

White space helps keep the overall look clean and simple in the best possible way.

This infographic is a little too cluttered, and lacking white space that would make it more visually appealing and easier to read.

Having enough white space on your infographic also makes organization easier; you can separate different sub-sections of content more effortlessly. This helps you make your point and keeps the infographic easy to follow and ready. This, in turn, boosts the value of the infographic overall, increasing the likelihood of shares.

This infographic has enough white space, and the clean, organized look makes following it easier.

Final Thoughts

While every single viral infographic may not encompass all six of traits discussed, they’ll have some them. You can use all six of these characteristics to improve any infographic and help it to go viral.

Remember that even if you make a high-value, high-quality infographic that contains all six of these features, your infographic will never get any eyes on it (or shares, for that matter) if you don’t promote it. Don’t forget to share it on social media, and linking to other sites as references never hurts, either.

What grabs your attention and makes you want to share infographics? Which characteristics do you make sure yours have? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!