How to use infographics to raise awareness for health promotion campaigns


Over the past few years, we’ve created infographics to support health promotion campaigns including awareness for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Today, we want to share a few of the tactics we’ve learned. You’ll also learn some advanced techniques for promoting your infographic to make sure that it travels far and wide online. We’ve broken it down into the three stages of creating an infographic: gathering the data, designing your story, and promotion. 

Do you have an example of an infographic your non-profit or health organization used to raise awareness? Please send it to us and we’ll add it as a sample in a gallery at the bottom of the page.

1. Gathering the data

Creating an infographic begins with gathering data. Our clients will usually have data to share from internal research, Health Canada, or their stakeholder organizations. Other times, we will research some interesting facts to include in the infographic.

As the goal of the infographic is to raise awareness, the secret is to find a unique way to frame your data. Health organizations often have an educational message they want to share such as “teens should use condoms” but if you want your infographic to spread online, the data story you tell needs to be something your audience hasn’t heard a thousand times before.

The best way to think about this is to treat your infographic as a new release. What's the story? What’s the angle that your audience hasn’t heard of before?

For example, a recent infographic detailed how long the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies had to work before they made the equivalent of an average employee’s annual pay. It turns out they earn 40K in about three hours, or before lunchtime. This is a much more interesting way to present this data. It makes the fact that “CEOs make $8.4 million every year” much more compelling and relevant to the average worker.

So the two questions guiding your infographic data quest should be: 1) What data can we find that is newsworthy and perhaps less common knowledge 2) how can we frame this data into a new way?

If you are looking for some more help with telling better stories from facts, we recommend the book Made to Stick.

In short, a data story that will spread has these three elements:

  • Concrete: By lunch, a CEO will make your annual wage is more memorable than a CEO makes 257000% more money than you.
  • New, unique, or surprising: News doesn’t always have to be earth shattering to go viral. Take a look at the articles in Digg and you’ll see that interesting news can also be hiding under your nose.
  • Singular & emotional: your health campaign likely has lots of important data and key messages to communicate. But try to find the one emotional anchor to tie all the tiny facts together.


2. How to design your infographic

We are a health promotion agency, so the type of infographic we are talking about here can’t really be designed with free infographic tools. It’s not that those tools are bad or might work for small businesses, but having an infographic that looks like a template isn’t going to cut it if you are trying to reach a wide audience.

That said, you can check out the templates at Visualy.

For those of you who are going to invest in a real designer, the most important thing is to simplify your story. We know this isn’t always easy. For example, when we design infographics for our health clients they have lots of data and want to make sure the information is very precise.

But keep in mind that your infographic is supposed to be high-level information. It should have very simple key messages and be designed with a consistent aesthetic.

In short, your infographic design should be:

  • Simple and unified: a good designer will be able to give it a consistent aesthetic and visual narrative, pulling the eye to your most important facts.
  • Light on text: if you want to write a lot of words, write a blog post! With less text, you’ll be able to use concrete images to tell the story.
  • Clickable: make sure you embed real URL links back to your site or campaign. There should a measurable goal for the infographic—such as getting people to take a pledge, share it, or visit your website.

3. How to promote your infographic

Your health promotion campaign won’t reach the masses if you just upload the infographic to your organization’s Facebook and Twitter account and then pray for traffic.

As most health organizations don’t have massive existing social media audiences, the best path is to combine organic and paid reach.

Here are a few of the tools and advertising methods we use to increase the organic reach of our client’s infographics.

Match existing search demand

One of the best ways to get long-term traffic is through search engines. Search engines are generally triggered by questions people have. So, you’ll want to make sure that the actual webpage you host your infographic on is targeting a specific keyword or framed around a topic people search for.

However, the keyword topic you choose to frame your infographic around determines the audience you will reach.

Think about what question your infographic answers. For example, you might be trying to raise awareness about the health issue of teens not using condoms.

But who is your target market for the infographic? If your goal is to reach teachers and educators looking for data on condom usage, then label your infographic something like “condom usage facts in Canada.”

Teachers will often search for facts and use those types of stat-driven keyword queries when using Google. Plus, you’ll also reach researchers, bloggers, and journalists writing on the topic, which will expand the reach and position of your infographic in Google.

But if you are trying to reach teens, you’ll have to take a different approach. For example, teens won’t be searching for data, they will be looking for experience-based knowledge such as “what are my chances of getting pregnant from a condom?” or “do condoms break?” 

Different audiences will search for different queries. You’ll need to be strategic about how you target them.

Once you decide on a keyword phrase, use Google’s AdWords Planner tool to get an idea about search volume.

Target small blogs with lots of comments

Simply emailing blogs and trying to get them to write a post on your infographic can get you a lot of traffic.

Bigger, though, is not always better. Big popular blogs get a lot of requests and often their audience isn’t very engaged.

One tactic we use for clients is to target smaller blogs with lots of comments. If a blog gets 20-50 comments for every post they write, it means they have a very active and loyal audience. If your infographic is a good fit with this audience, they could share it and their initial activity could be the start of great social traction.

Use Facebook ads

For the Heart and Stroke Foundation, we tend to use Facebook ad campaigns as a way to get the social ball rolling. Most savvy social media brands will combine organic and paid reach to put their content in the right hands.

If your health promotion campaign is targeting a specific population (such as Chinese-Canadians), Facebook is great for demographic targeting.

Amplify with content discovery

Tools like Outbrain allow you to advertise your infographic next to contextually relevant material, such as a relevant news article.

You can also experiment with Google’s Display Network and place your infographic next to relevant news and content from online magazines that you know your audience reads regularly.

Some final tips

Here’s a final summary of the things we’ve found to work.

  • Your infographic needs to be interesting, filled with new striking information, and framed with concrete anchors.
  • Hire a professional designer and go easy on the copy.
  • Spend just as much time and budget promoting your infographic as you do creating it.
  • Combine paid social media ads with organic reach.
  • Smaller blogs with highly engaged audiences can help speed up social sharing.

Got an interesting health promotion project?

Redbird is a specialist health promotion agency. We have health promotion experts, strategists, creatives, and web developers. If you think your organization might be a good fit with us, get in touch.


Related Resources: 

Why your health promotion campaigns don't attract visitors and support online 

5 helpful health promotion resources 

How to motivate and attract more donors