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Content: Knowing When to Create An Article vs. An Infographic

When a piece of content is already created and promoted, it’s too late to wonder if it would have been better received in a different format. While infographics are visually appealing and dynamic, articles are less expensive for clients and more easily seeded. How is a content manager or client to determine which form of media is better for their needs?

Here are clues and insights on the selection of media for content managers and companies ordering fresh social content.

When It Should Be an Article

socmedIGThere are many clues that an infographic should have been an article. However, a content manager should never wait until content has become a failure as an IG to realize that it could have been a great article.

Here are the empirical clues that content is suited to be an article rather than an infographic:

1. No Ready Visualizations

When content managers peruse a fresh content idea and determine whether it should be graphic or text, a major determinant is whether or not the idea includes ready visualizations. If the idea calls to mind fun graphic elements, which could help a graphic designer to incorporate relevant imagery into an IG, then it might be fit for an infographic.

Example: An engineering firm wants an IG about the history of engineer education

IG or Article? Article—boring visuals wouldn’t balance a text-heavy idea

2. Lack of Statistics

For the topic of texting while driving, a content manager would know that statistics abound and that the topic had been done previously as an infographic by numerous companies. However, if a topic was researched preliminarily and did not yield stats, the content manager would be wary to assign it as an IG.

Example: A skin care company wants content about celebrity acne.

Potential Stats: Celeb photos with acne, manually counted celeb skin care endorsements for acne creams

IG or Article? Article

3. No Relation to the Client

If an infographic idea has to stray so far from the client’s products or agenda that it doesn’t readily correlate in consumers’ minds, then it shouldn’t be used. The same is true of articles, content needs to directly relate to the client in some way. However, people make this mistake more often with infographics than with articles.

4. Fails to Inspire Designer

While this issue could be resolved by finding a different designer who feigns interest, if a topic is dull for a designer, it will likely result in a flat design.

5. Text Heavy

Even if content meets all of the previous criteria for becoming an infographic, it could still be inappropriate if it requires lengthy descriptions or text. No one really reads infographics beyond the titles and subheadings: they’re there for the heady graphics, bright colors, and intuitively-grasped information provided in visuals.

If content seems perfect for an IG but can’t be created without including lots of text, then it’s not going to thrill audiences. Text-dense IGs result in click-aways and skimming. However, text-heavy ideas are perfect for intelligent articles.

When It Should Be An Infographic

contentomniverseHave you ever read through an article and wished that a statistic had been visualized? Did you ever find yourself day-dreaming about the mental imagery inspired by an article? Often, this happens when statistic-rich content is crammed into an article format. While any infographic could be written as an article with success, the signs that an article should have been an IG are readily apparent for readers.

Here are the empirical clues that content is suited to be an infographic rather than an article:

1. The Content Contains Descriptions

If a content idea instantly inspires designers or the content manager to think of fun layouts, fresh themes, or dynamic visuals that audiences would love, then it’s probably an infographic. Many ideas instantly scream “IG!”

Example: Jet Flew airline wants to compare car crashes to airline crashes

Potential Visuals: Crashes, bar graph comparison of crashes, comparison of deaths, safety rating checklist comparison

IG or Article? IG

2. The Stats Stand Alone

While some statistics require a description to clarify the numbers or parameter of the findings, others don’t. If an article contains a lot of statistics that could stand alone, then it should probably be an infographic. However, when the statistics require explanation to be fully understood, then they’re more suitable for articles (because people would likely skim past the explanations in IGs, resulting in misunderstandings).

Example: Darwin life insurance company wants a piece on the most dangerous places in the world

Potential Stat: San Pedro Sula, Honduras ranked most dangerous city

IG or Article: IG

When It Shouldn’t Be An IG Or Article

shutterstock_88174213Often there are pieces of content or ideas that shouldn’t be made into either infographics or articles because they’ve been over-done, they lack interest, or they are founded in seriously outdated information.

Here are a few examples of content ideas that shouldn’t be made as either IGs or articles:

1.Too Much Competition

So you thought of the most interesting title in the world for an article or IG and discovered that hundreds of other people already developed it; stop, drop, and roll. Stop development, drop the topic indefinitely (unless you’re certain you can do the best version of it, ever), and roll onto a new idea.

Example: 7 Deadly Sins of Writing

Potential Competitors: Every content company, writer’s blog, and bored freelancer in the world

  1. Seven Deadly Sins of Writing – by Hamilton
  2. The 7 Deadly Sins of Writing – by Writer’s Digest
  3. Seven Deadly Sins of Writing – by Your Screenplay Sucks!

IG or Article? Neither—hundreds of people thought of it before you

2. Topic Is Boring

Enough said.

3. Not Relevant to Client

As mentioned in the dinosaur skin example, content must relate to the client somehow. If it doesn’t, even if it’s otherwise extraordinary, it shouldn’t be done.

When Content Can Go Both Ways

Every once in a while there’s a client with the budget and good humor to order both an IG and article of the same information. Maybe it’s because the client wants double coverage of an important press release, or because he or she sees the value in the fathomless information. When this happens, there are a few types of content that work wonders as both infographics and articles (simultaneously).

Here are ideas that would work as simultaneous IGs and articles (and why):

1. How an Airplane Is Made

The infographic would show diagrams of an airplane being assembled, or a split-vision of the interior of a plane. It could include stats on the percentages of raw metal, wood, cotton, etc. found in airplanes.

For the article half, this project would cover the process of getting an airplane built. From the bank to the boardroom and back to the construction, it would show how many players are involved in the multi-million dollar undertaking.

It works as a large project because the story has two clear halves: literal building and figurative ‘getting it built’ stories.

2. 37 Albums That Changed the World

As an infographic this piece could include stats on sales, market distribution, and growth in new sectors. It could also highlight all of the beautiful album covers as a reference to the article.

The article half of this project would cover music movements on a timeline, corresponding to the infographic layout of album covers. For images, it would focus more on fans and fashions of the industry.

This would work as both because it’s dynamic: there are several stories to be told as one larger story.

3. 42 Reasons to Stay Married & Make It Work

This infographic would draw on emotions and evoke a need to share in readers. It would cover the psychology of marriage and its beneficial effects on health. Statistics about heart health and general wellbeing of married versus single people would be correlated to the article.

The article would list 42 reasons to stay married, oscillating from factual to funny. It would be a more typical listical, referencing the infographic several times.

These two pieces would be more loosely associated and could be promoted entirely separately. They work as a cohesive project because one hits emotional readers and the other targets light-hearted social visitors.


Knowing if your content should be an article or infographic is as much a gut reaction as it is research-driven. Content managers must know when statistics are available, when designers will be inspired, and how the social audience is currently responding to both forms of media. However, with careful review of shares and likes, content mangers can hone their ability to determine whether content is fit for IGs or articles.


About the author

Michael Purdy