Great graphics tell the story for you

It’s nearly the end of 2014 and suggestions for Time’s Person of the Year are rolling in, with India’s new leader Narendra Modi, Vladimir Putin, John Kerry and Malala Yousafzai topping a poll of readers votes for now.

But some people are thinking beyond the usual politicians and campaigners. Prolific financial news blogger and tweeter Joseph Weisenthal, aka @TheStalwart, suggested this as his POY:

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The Deutsche Bank graph showing US oil production over the last 20 years does indeed tell the story of the country’s shale revolution in one picture. Fellow Wall Street tweeters including @GMRobertson seconded The Stalwart’s nomination, saying the graphic explains the “most profound econ/historical event in decades”.

All that with barely 10 words. When considering what content works best online, the importance and usefulness of graphics and images cannot be overstated. Given the seconds-long attention span of readers flicking through Twitter feeds, Facebook updates or search engine results, a simple graphic which explains “this is what is really going on with this issue” is a great way to halt their scrolling. Setting out the facts without opinion and without requiring the reader to open another link or even spend time reading a few pages is very attractive. The Stalwart, who has 78,000 Twitter followers, certainly understands this.

Every industry has access to facts and stats that grab attention: a good example from this week was from Majestic Wine, which pointed out in its half-year results that the price of the average bottle of wine sold in its shops had gone over £8. That factoid got it a front-page slot in the Telegraph and various follow-ups on the best £8 bottles around. There is no reason to wait for a newspaper to winkle these gems out of your numbers – companies can make great graphics and content of their own and use social media to share it with the world.

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