Infographics, We Need To Talk

It’s a great idea. Bandwidth is becoming more plentiful, digital marketing is getting more creative, and the co-mingling of information and artistic talent on the Internet was a match made in marketing heaven whose time had come.

However, it’s gotten out of hand. Now that Infographics are a fad, everyone needs to get in on them, even if an Infographic is not a perfect fit for your campaign’s marketing mix. When infographics become another box to check in your marketing plan, and not a strategic deployment, the platform itself risks spoilage.

Here’s what’s happened as a result: Info is now strangling graphic. In the battle between sharp design and artistic storytelling, blocks upon blocks upon blocks of text has won out. Many infographics have become messy and unreadable, violating the “first commandment” of graphical storytelling: “What’s the story we’re trying to tell here?”

20141027_Bad_Infographic_1

On the graphic above, there are 49 individual data points splashed across the image, 17 of which are statistical-based, across 3,200 vertical pixels. Is there one story? Or 49?

The key in graphics is to let the images carry the story. Having started in television graphics in 1997 at Fox Sports Northwest, that was always what we were taught when creating a graphic: “How can we use a graphic to tell the story? What takeaway do we want the viewer to have?”

Now that graphics have emerged as digital storytelling, the old-school whitepaper and communications plan construction methods are bleeding through. The result is this: the 600-word infographic. The viewer is now lost.

Infographic about the rise of wearable technology

Why is this bad? It’s too long. How do I know it’s too long? Here’s how: in spoken-word video, the average American English speaking pace is 162 words per minute. If I converted this infographic into video animation form, it would be roughly 3 minutes and 40 seconds in length. For my digital marketing projects, our “drop-off” point took place just short of the two-minute mark. Many experts agree with this perspective.

At the end of the day, infographics are a terrific tool, but their effectiveness is being minimized. When these graphics surpass the 400-word mark, they stop being infographics and start being executive summaries with clipart.

By comparison, this blog post clocked in at 374 words. JG Initial Mark_15x15

Joe Gura is a marketing communications strategist, and has a Master of Science degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn or follow Joe on Twitter: @joegura

About joegura

I’m a technology marketer with a deep track record for success running B2B and B2C global campaigns and initiatives across large enterprises. With expertise that spans all facets of traditional marketing, I specialize in optimizing and connecting companies and customers via next-generation tactics such as digital, social, and content marketing.
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One Response to Infographics, We Need To Talk

  1. Marisa Peacock says:

    Yes! I completely agree! Everything in marketing should always be able the story — what emotion, information, idea are you trying to convey? When it comes to infographics, it’s no different. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

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