The Rise of the Visual Social Media Era

An article today on Fast Company caught our eye. It could not have more eloquently positioned the rhyme and reason for iCharts’ role in the larger publishing industry. And the rapid shift to use of visualizations to create and share stories.

Simply put - consumers, the voice of the people - engage at a more rapid pace with visual content. We saw a similar shift when online video became a more accessible medium for publishers and everyday consumers. The same is now happening with photos, infographics and charts.

The fundamental value-add of including photos, videos or data-driven charts versus a long-form, text-only article hasn’t changed much over the years. These elements have, and always will, improve reader engagement.

But what has changed, and is visibly seen in research and consumer feedback, is that we - the people - are much more apt to discuss something with our social peers that is uber visual and in a format that’s easily distributed and consumed by a scanning, A.D.D. society.

A few snippets from the post for your reading pleasure:

“Pictures have…become a short form way of communicating lots of information quickly and succinctly….The need for publishers to get to the point quicker than ever came about as humans became more pressed for time and content became more infinite. For publishers, it was evolve or risk losing their audience, and the only thing shorter than a tweet or post is a picture.”

The “trend toward the visual is…influenced by the shifting habits of technology users. As more people engage with social media via smartphones…”

“A 2012 study by ROI Research found that when users engage with friends on social media sites, it’s the pictures they took that are enjoyed the most. Forty-four percent of respondents are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures than any other media. Pictures have become one of our default modes of sorting and understanding the vast amounts of information we’re exposed to every day.”

How will you embrace this trend? 

Introducing the (New) iCharts User Guide

You want to create a chart, now, right? You specifically want to create a chart on iCharts to include interactive features and embed on your blog, but how?

The newly refurbished iCharts User Guide walks you through the essentials to getting started. How to create, design and share your chart masterpieces with the world in the shortest amount of time possible, with fewer tools and without any coding or design expertise.

Take a whirl here:


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It’s New, and It’s Getting Big. Come Explore Inside the Olympics.

At iCharts we’re always itching to showcase what iCharts does for marketers, publishers, journalists and freelance bloggers. Not in a features and benefits way, or through a tutorial video, but in a way that shows iCharts in-action, such as Inside the Olympics, to expose the bigger challenge we’re aiming to solve: how to share valuable information and stories in bite-size formats that are data driven. We believe at iCharts, that we’re on the path to solving that.

How Does iCharts Work?

Subscribers, free or paid, can create charts by syncing data sources to a cloud-based platform that enables real-time publishing with or without design elements, plus interactive features for extended in-chart data mining. Users can choose to share their charting masterpieces on a website, blog, social networks, or privately with peers and colleagues via .PDF or .PNG files.

Why Inside the Olympics?

The Olympics is a monumental event with a wide array of commentary and data that highlights factoids from past and present. Many will create and explore Olympic articles, photos and video content surrounding the event. But no one, to-date, has journaled an event via charts to quickly expose trending topics, while also documenting past and current events. iCharts aims to fill that gap, while showcasing to others how they too can create short format content with rich data and information to be shared, tweeted, pinned, blogged, curated for digital magazines, or embedded on a website without the extended effort of writing a traditional article, press release or blog post. 

Because iCharts’ platform is flexible to absorb big or small datasets, it makes it easy to chart news as-it-happens or showcase statistics from prior events. Most charts for “Inside the Olympics” are static stories pulled from data partners like Experian and open data sources such as Guardian Data. But real-time charts can also be applied with or without content licensing such as medal counts.

The application of this project is scalable across a wide array of other journalistic and marketing oriented projects. As long as the user is prepared with data sources (or free form fast facts), images to complement the story, marketable copy for the chart title and description, it is entirely feasible to replicate the approach for Inside the Olympics.  It also should take no longer than an hour to produce a single chart from initial data upload to publish and share.

To follow Inside the Olympics or to learn more about iCharts, please visit http://www.icharts.net.

Inside the Olympics - Now Live!


Our special events ChartChannel Inside the Olympics is now live!

Did you know there are over 8,000 torchbearers during the relay?
That over 4 BILLION online viewers are expected to follow the Olympics?
Or that a women holds the fastest Olympic record in the 200M butterfly swim?

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The Evolution of Media

An article recently published by GigaOM caught our eye. It talked about media and disruption. And how formats - the way we tell stories - need to change. We couldn’t agree more.

“…the discussion that media theorist Jeff Jarvis and others have been having for some time now about how the news “story” needs to be blown up or dismantled, or at the very least re-thought. Since the way that news occurs and the ways in which information reaches us has been completely disrupted by the web and the democratization of distribution, the argument is that we need to have different models and formats for handling that information intelligently — whether it’s with tools like Storify or new ways of aggregating and filtering data in order to make it meaningful.”

How does this translate back to consumer and business behavior?

1.. We’re a Scanning Society and best remember news and information in visual formats. Why else have Flickr (the old) Instagram and Pinterest (the new) become so popular? Because we remember things best when set to sight, color and sound.

2. We are accustomed, even prefer, to digest and share information in bite-size formats (short form vs. long form). Pictures, memes, infographics and charts all factor into this choice of format (a.k.a. storytelling). All of these are easier to synthesize and share than a 1,000+ word article or white paper.

3. Marketers and publishers alike are shifting from an emphasis on Paid Media to Earned Media, realizing that trust - as a brand, as a news media outlet - stems from content with “soul” and original viral
elements (share-features) versus interruption-based marketing via paid channels.

How does iCharts respond to this? 

We already are by providing creative storytelling solutions to the marketers (Coca Cola), publishers (MarketWatch), market research firms (comScore) and educators.

Watch as we continue to innovate in a space that begs to be re-defined with new formats and new (visual) and data-driven marketing.

Explore ChartChannel | Become a Data Partner | Sign-Up

Hello, We’re Hiring at iCharts!

Intern Needed:
Marketing, with Data Journalism Emphasis

Are you a student or working professional looking for hands-on marketing experience with an emphasis on data journalism? Look no further than @iCharts.

iCharts is a start-up based in Sunnyvale, CA that provides cloud-based charting services to marketers, educators and journalists. The business is growing and we need a social media savvy marketing intern with an eye for data-driven journalism to manage, create and join online conversations specific to event marketing.

Upcoming projects? London Olympics and Elections 2012! Be part of the action this summer.

Requirements:

• Available min 10 hours/week
• Able to perform research for charting topics – general and event-specific
• Familiarity with managing and monitoring online conversations via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Slideshare
• Able to provide weekly updates
• Available virtually via Skype or G-Chat 1x/week to connect on key projects
• Experience with emerging online content curating tools like Storify, Storyful, Scoop.it, or Paper.li a plus
• FT work experience not required, but should be professional and have worked in an office setting before
• 2 years min undergraduate studies

**Preference for those with a Marketing, Communications or Journalism degree

For consideration, please email the following to jobs@icharts.net:

• Word or .pdf copy of CV/Resume
• Link to (public) online social profiles such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter
• (1-2) writing samples such as a blog or student portfolio

PLEASE NOTE: This is an UNPAID internship. Credits may be applied and work recommendations provided, but (hourly) pay not available until a min of 60 days on the job.

One thing we can promise - a fun, cutting-edge internship! We look forward to you, or someone you know, joining our team.

Playing the Game: Data Collection, Visualization and Social Sharing

Big data, small data. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. And everyday iCharts wrestles through what the larger industry is facing – an identity crisis with data.

The most prolific challenges lie in…

  1. Data collection that delivers against specific business goals
  2. Data management to absorb old and new frontiers (e.g. Open Graph, Advertising Analytics) in a meaningful, action-oriented approach
  3. Data visualization (a.k.a. charts) and socializing at the speed of light to provide turnkey, shareable decision logic for larger business problems like how/when iterate a product and visual masterpieces for bloggers and stand-alone market researchers

At iCharts, we believe that solving these challenges start with a few key ingredients. (Note: iCharts is focused on #3)
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Teeing Up Your (iChart) Templates

Things You Shouldn’t (And Can’t Afford) To Miss When Designing Chart Templates 

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iCharts Offers Bananas Plus Some for SurveyMonkey Users

Hello, SurveyMonkey Users!  Now Optimize Your Survey Data with iCharts.

If you are in the market for creating and sending out surveys, chances are you found yourself in the caring hands of SurveyMonkey for the simplicity, scalability and affordability of its tool.

What’s not to love? Survey set-up and distribution is a cinch and data collection behind the scenes is in real-time. You can get quick snapshots of how people see, feel and think about things that matter to you with their in-house charting even while the survey is still being fielded. But these charts are really just meant for your eyes only, giving you a pulse-check on  public sentiment. What about charts that are dressed with your brand for the world-stage, equipped with custom filtering and instant sharing capabilities? That’s where iCharts comes in with the SurveyMonkey data uploader we just launched today.

What Does That Mean?

It means that you can export your SurveyMonkey data, upload it into iCharts to design, create and share powerful charts.

Creating and Designing Charts from SurveyMonkey

We continue to do all the hard work for you. There is no need to re-format your data. You don’t need a programmer to sync your data to your design, nor do you need a graphic designer to pretty up your chart. iCharts takes care of all of it. But we make room for you to customize it to your own brand guidelines (logos, colors) with ways for you to optimize your SEO (hyperlinking, keywords, tagging).

Cross-tabbing and Filtering in Chart Form

We geek out for you with auto-generated cross-tab and data filters.
 Grab what you want to drill down by and segment your data on the fly. We’ve made it so that you skip having to run the numbers yourself then manually enter each value one-by-one into a whole different platform for charting.

Interactivity

We make it fun with data-focused interactive functionality. Viewers can explore cross-tabs and data filters that you have custom-selected for their use (click on the yellow buttons below) and flip through various data snapshots you have assigned for them to see (click on the left and right arrows next to Chart Views on the top right). Whether or not the filters and views are revealed or hidden to viewers is completely up to you.

Cannot retrieve chart

Share
We take social sharing to a whole new level with stand-alone chart embeds, sharing and clipping features. Journalists and bloggers can use your chart to report on your insights. Chart viewers who see conversation-value in your insights can share it easily with their social networks or via email.

So How do You Getting Started
?

  1. Sign-up and activate your free trial within 24-hours of sign-up.
  2. Ensure you are a SurveyMonkey Select or higher user.
  3. Export response data in a .zip file to upload to iCharts.

Now upload your data, design and start sharing with the world! #sweet

iCharts for SurveyMonkey

Branding Charts With Platinum Powers

Tips on using iCharts’ Platinum features to protect and extend your brand.

iCharts has made it so that everything that you tailor behind the scenes promotes your brand and optimizes your SEO (learn how). With the powers of Platinum in your hands, you want to push your brand even further. You have your logo, corporate colors and data in hand… but how do you bring it all together in a way that means business?

Use logos and images, but only in a way that respects your data.

At the Platinum level, you have unlimited access to image uploads. The temptation to use the largest version of your logo and place it front and center or to use as many flashy images as possible is undeniably palpable. But try to keep your excitement at bay and channel it wisely. The focus of the chart should be on the data. Images, logos and their placements should very gently set the stage so that your data can shine.

Accent charts with your logo.

Logos should quietly frame your chart. Placing your logo in the middle of your chart, for example, certainly draws attention to your logo but distracts the viewer from the information you’re presenting. Having a clean space around your data implies that meaningful insights are not only important to your brand, but define your brand.

  • Ensure logos are not any larger than one-fifth or one-fourth of the visual width of your chart. (e.g. If your chart is 500 px in width, then your logo’s width should not be more than 100 px or 125 px in width.)
  • Place logos in one of the four corners (top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right). Give about 30 px of space around the logo so it is not cramped against the edges.

Be choosy with the images you use.

If you are taking it upon yourself to find the perfect image, you will soon find out that there are almost too many to wade through. The ones that will work out the best will fulfill two requirements:

  • Complementing the storyline and personality of your brand.
  • If resting in the background, the image will create open space for your chart while also drawing attention to what matters most to your readers.

Color MatchYour company may have a well-defined corporate brand color scheme. Use that palette to dictate your data series colors. You can easily copy and paste the HEX and RGB codes in the studio if you have access to them. If you don’t, take a your logo or a screenshot of your company website and upload it to any of the following tools that will analyze the image for the most commonly used colors and yield those codes for your use: