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September 25, 2012

Infographics: The Answer to the Lazy Blogger’s Prayers?

Infographics are huge. They’re popping up on blogs, they float by in your Facebook stream, and a quick search through Google News this morning showed no less than 15 articles that Google deemed newsworthy, all with the word “Infographic” in the title, all published within the last 24 hours. But, in their quest for the next piece of viral content, are bloggers really just shooting themselves in the foot?

There’s no question that infographics grab the readers’ attention. At first glance anyone would rather look at a colorful picture than read a page filled with text. But not all infographics are created equal and a flashy design does not an infographic make. Most of the infographics I’ve seen lately simply beg the question:

Does this lazy blogger really think I’m stupid enough to buy this crap?

When you write a fact-based article or blog post you back it up with research, you link out to relevant sources so your readers can see how you came to your conclusions. Apparently, when you’re creating infographics, anything goes.

An infographic that came across my Facebook stream this morning blasted: Facebook Posting Rule – The Trifecta For Retailers. No relevant sources were quoted, no statistics, and no experts. Yet, according to this infographic there are new rules for posting on Facebook. I should post 10% promotional content, 20% shared content, and 70% of my content should be something that builds brand recognition.

This blogger is suggesting I throw the 80/20 Rule out the window, even though it’s been the rule of thumb for every successful business on the planet since the dawn of time, simply because they put together a nice, pretty infographic. He’s also suggesting that his method is better than mine, but you don’t see me needing to spend a pile of money on an infographic to get my message across, do you?

What’s worse though is the fact that he’s telling me what to do but he’s not backing it up with why I should do it. So either this blogger is very lazy and doesn’t want to do the research so he’s going to bury that fact under a pretty picture, or he thinks I’m really stupid and wouldn’t understand. Either way, I hope he’s not counting on me to be one of the people who helps his infographic go viral.

My Point is This: Bravo for those bloggers who have the time and money to invest in infographics. But you’re doing it wrong and you’re actually hurting your blog and your reputation. Your infographics, while pretty and eye-catching, are breaking all
the rules of blogging.

To illustrate my point, I went to Visual.ly and found an infographic that takes a sarcastic look at “10 Ways to Make Your Infographic Totally Awesome”, designed by a user named Neomam. Open it up in a new window so you can follow along if you like. It’s really a great infographic.

More is Less: The rule of thumb in blogging has always been to choose one keyword and answer one question with your blog posts or articles. It makes it easier for the reader to quickly scan and absorb your content and it’s better for SEO. Yet most infographics I’ve seen lately have so much information packed in that it’s impossible to fully explain anything. Your readers are only getting part of the story.

Use as Many Fonts as Possible: Using multiple mixed and colorful fonts, tilted at angles or inside bubbles just makes your graphic that much more difficult to read and understand. You don’t do this in your blog posts. Why would you think it would work in your graphic?

Tell, Don’t Show: What’s wrong? Can’t find a picture to illustrate your point? Exactly! There are times when text is the best way to convey your message.

Copy and Paste: If all you’re going to do with your graphic is paste some old style bar charts from Word then why other? Use it as an image to break up your informative blog post.

Copyright is for Losers: Again, this is a rule everyone is breaking with their infographics. You don’t use copyrighted images on your blog because you know, you’ll get caught and you’ll risk having Google take your blog down. So why is it OK to use stolen images in your infographic? It doesn’t make sense. You created it because you’re trying to create viral content. Viral means a lot of people will see it.

No Need to Check Facts: And here we go. The biggest mistake I’m seeing, but I’ve already talked about this up above. This is where bloggers are shooting themselves in the foot. That pretty infographic is going to draw more attention to your weak, thready content. Infographics are not a solution for lazy bloggers. Your readers are not stupid and the fact that you think they are, is insulting and only shows how little you know about your audience.

You can Stretch the Truth: Creating an infographic takes a bit of artistic talent, but it doesn’t give you an artistic license to fudge the facts to make your infographic look more impressive.

Style Over Substance: Take a look at that infographic you just created. If you were to take all of the real, solid, information off of it and paste it into a blog post, would you publish it on your blog? I rest my case.

Don’t Bother Proofreading: Again, if you wouldn’t publish it on your blog, why are you putting it in a graphic that you hope will attract even more attention than your blog posts? Are you assuming your readers are too stupid to notice.

Originality is Overrated:
Your infographic is content, just like your videos, your articles and blog posts. As such, it still needs to be original and unique and you still need to credit sources.

Personally, I like the idea of using infographics – sparingly. But lately, I’m just seeing a long page of disconnected pictures pasted into a file with no relative, informative content attached.

A successful infographic should be:

* Focused on one keyword or issue – just like your blog posts
* Fully researched – just like your blog posts
* Fact-based with statistics and resources – just like your blog posts
* Easy to read and absorb – just like your blog posts
* Brief and to-the-point – just like your blog posts

Most infographics I’ve seen look really pretty – on the surface. But if you’re not getting the results you expected then the problem is most likely your content.

These graphics aren’t meant to be used in place of good blogging practices on those days you’re too lazy to dig in and do the work. When done properly, an infographic should actually take more time and effort than a written blog post because you’re not only compiling the information, you’re also creating the graphic.

When you put the time and effort into creating that great infographic you’ll get the results you’re looking for, just like you do when you put the time and effort into an awesome blog post. But if you don’t you’re just wasting your time and money, and shooting yourself in the foot.


Donna Anderson covers Internet Business News for Examiner.com. You’ll also find some of her articles at Alex Jones’ website, InfoWars.com.

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