Research: Infographics are key COVID-19 content engagement tools

By Grzegorz Piechota


Oxford, United Kingdom


While live blogs have been the best single performing editorial content formats during the pandemic, newsrooms have found success with other formats, too.

Live blogs made 39% of the top 100 list of best-performing articles across 700 publishers in 70 countries, per Chartbeat data, but they amassed 45% of total engagement time.

The second-best performing format was the infographic, as 8% of articles generated 12% of total engagement.

The Financial Times, The New York Times, The Times/The Sunday Times of London, and The Washington Post have all discovered “a real appetite” for visual storytelling using data, as demonstrated by record-breaking articles.

The Coronavirus Tracker,” an article with the charts showing the latest figures on the pandemic, has become FT’s “most viewed article of all time.”

Originally, as data visualisation journalist John Burn-Murdoch told the Press Gazette, the graph was meant to be one-off for a reporter who asked if he had any statistics showing how the UK looked in comparison to other countries. It was the strong reaction to the chart from readers and on social media that convinced FT to track the pandemic daily.

While 94% of content FT publishes is behind the hard paywall, the tracker page has been made available free to all visitors to demonstrate the qualities of the news brand’s journalism to new, prospective subscribers.

Heavily promoted on social media, the tracker page is full of calls to sign up for alerts and newsletters, and it contains links to other free, yet rare, articles from the FT, such as essays by famous writers Arundhati Roy or Yuval Noah Harari.

The FT reported 10-fold increase in trial subscriptions in March, although it did not share the exact numbers. At the end of 2019, the FT had 1.09 million paying subscribers, of which the majority were digital subscriptions.

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