Marketing campaigns always use facts and figures to promote and back up their message. There’s just one problem: facts and figures, whilst interesting to a statistician, are a little boring to the general public. To make things a little more digestible, it’s common to visualize this data as infographics. Now, infographics are ten a penny, but one site in particular – Visual.ly – is catching consumer’s eyes and creating quite a buzz online.
Visual.ly went live in 2011 and positioned itself in two roles: firstly, to act as a platform for promoting user’s infographics and, secondly, as a hub for publishers, researchers and designers to come together and offer their skills. It’s been an incredibly successful venture which has seen investors throwing money at it to grab a slice of the action. The hype has been building nicely for Visual.ly, but is it all justified? I decided to don my investigative hat like a digital Sherlock Holmes and investigate.
I used SimilarWeb PRO to find out who Visual.ly’s competitors were and discovered that Infogr.am and Piktochart were delivering similar services and had respectable global rankings. Visual.ly has the highest number of visits, but this has been rising and falling erratically over the last six months. As a result, Piktochart have gained considerable ground on Visual.ly – in Sep ’13 they had around 1.9m less views than Visual.ly, but by Feb ’14 this difference was just 300,000 views. This indicates a turbulent marketplace which Visual.ly is far from controlling.
Infographics are just perfect for social media and it’s no surprise that the most popular source of traffic for Visual.ly is via social routes. The most popular sources of these were Reddit, Facebook and Stumbleupon – all social media sites with an emphasis on visual content. This indicates Visual.ly’s popularity with youth, a demographic who frequently use social media sites for research. Of note, though, was the relatively small number of social interactions on LinkedIn. Given the room for networking professionals on Visual.ly to come together, I would have expected more.
Once users have been dazzled by infographics and started work on a project with a trendy Brazilian designer, where do they head next? Well, the social media link is again apparent with five of the top six most popular destinations being social media sites – Google incorporates Google+ in the results above. This relationship has not been ignored by Visual.ly who has capitalized on the connection to create tools such as Life of a Hashtag and Twitterize Yourself. Little moves like this create a buzz which can then spread across social media via word of mouth.
Visual.ly has a rising stock in social media and is working in tandem with it to promote its brand and capabilities. The community aspect of Visual.ly is not represented as strongly on social media as it could be and I think this is something that needs to be addressed. The incoming traffic for Visual.ly has been rather unsteady recently and perhaps a vote of support from the creative community could stabilize traffic. Action such as this is essential if Visual.ly is to pull away from competitors such as Piktochart. Nonetheless, Visual.ly has come very far in just three years and their future remains bright.