5 Huge Mistakes Content Marketers Make With Infographics

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No one can deny the popularity of infographics any longer. The gap between the old and new ways of marketing are colliding and “internet marketing” and “infographics” are hot on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

As you may know, the benefits of infographics have much to do with the digital landscape we live in today: They can be shared through a multitude of social networks and have the potential to go viral. They can reach a global audience with the push of a button, which a printed medium can never do. And with a company brand attributed to the infographic, it also creates genuine brand awareness.

So, you’ve got your brilliant idea, you’ve done the writing, worked through the design, slapped on some branding, and sent your infographic to roam free amid the wilds of the web.

So why isn’t it getting any attention? Why isn’t that like or share button adding up?

See if you fall into one of the following five common traps most companies face today when first breaking into the internet marketing field.

1 – Misunderstanding Your Audience

Placement

Before you even think of an idea for your amazing, totally fabulous, sure to impress your boss IG, you should be asking: who are you trying to reach and where are you most likely to reach them? Where do they like to “hang out” on the web? Business journals? News articles? Mommy Blogs? Pinterest? What you produce has to be seen by the right people or the point is completely useless.

It would be a gross assumption to say your entire audience is the dedicated readership of your blog. Half of your consumers probably don’t even know you have a blog. If your infographic is falling flat gaining attention on your blog alone, you should think about expanding your reach beyond that and bringing the readers to you.

Story

If you are confident that you’ve got the above figured out, what you might then lack is an understanding of what your audience wants to hear. What would attract them? On a more real level, try to get to know the people who like and buy your product/services better and evaluate what would be entertaining or interesting to them.

All in all, the right story with the right placement for your audience is a good recipe to ensure a healthy lifespan for your infographic on the web.

A perfect example of understanding your audience and knowing what they would enjoy reading about or find useful:

thanksgiving infographic

via Food Network

2 – Wordy, False, Unintelligent Copy

As someone once said: “A picture represents a thousand words.” As much could be said about modern day infographics.

Wordiness

The key here is not to write a novel, but to be comprehensibly succinct. It should be perceptive and smart, yet brief. No one wants to sit and read paragraphs anymore.

Think about the brevity of Facebook posts, tweets, and Instagram taglines. No one is talking in more than 140 characters.

The key is to think in short sentences, or not even sentences as at all, but bullet points. However, don’t undervalue the writer here, this does take talent to accomplish.

In my experience of seeing over 100 infographics created under my watch, most IGs range from around 400-500 words. Some even 800+! But take a look at a successful IG completed in just 51 words:

bacon infographic

Designer: Corey Smith

Were you not just entertained? (Russell Crowe Gladiator moment just then)

Facts not Fluff

All in all, you should let your visuals tell the story, but be sure to back them up with some solid copy. Don’t throw “fluff” at your audience. Design-wise, you can put as many bells and whistles on this puppy as you want, but if you have weak or unsupported statements, you could come across as unbelievable (or worse) and no one will want to share your information.

If you’re going to have a data-driven infographic, find real, solid statistics from authoritative sources. Don’t source a biased writer or heaven forbid, another infographic. Be a good reporter. Dig through sources and find the real data instead of regurgitating a paraphrased sentence or a clipped block quote.

Even better, go collect your own first-hand data so that you are the only source with that information. However, don’t simply poll five individuals from Indiana about sock color preference and then report that 90% of the population of Indiana prefers blue (I speak from experience).

An ugly picture of the truth is better than a pretty picture of a lie.

Lacking Concept

Lastly, your concept is everything. What’s the “story” to tie all this good data and facts you’ve gathered? What’s the impression and bigger picture you want to leave on your audience? Is this just going to be a list of statistics? Or do you have a good story to keep your audience entertained, emotionally tickled, intellectually invested? Bring your data to life by making it all mean something or by thinking of an interesting or unique way to present it.

3- Underestimating the Power of a Good Designer

Using Templates

This quick fix could very well be your culprit. I’m sure one among us is guilty of using this “easy” solution to bypass working with a designer only to realize afterward that this was only as good as a bandaid when what you really needed was a certified surgeon.

Maybe your audience has sniffed you out. Or maybe that yellow banner with that Helvetica headline just doesn’t stand out amongst all the other yellow banners with Helvetica headlines. (No offense Helvetica, I hope we’re still cool after this.)

I’m not saying that all infographics popular on the web are the most amazing design works ever bestowed upon this earth, in fact I’ve seen some pretty bad ones. But let’s be honest, it’s our nature that “pretty” does get you noticed. And like a fly that gravitates toward the light bulb in the kitchen, your audience, no matter who they are, will assuredly be drawn in by a dynamic and eye-grabbing visual.

The trick thereafter would be to keep them there with your great research and storyline we discussed in the section above.

Design Sense

I hope my more sensitive design readers don’t take offense to my “pretty” comment. Let me amend that statement by saying of course it’s about more than just being pretty. It’s about being clever and smart with design choices.

Designers know how to take a viewer’s eye through a visual story piece by piece, making sure you don’t miss anything important, whether or not you realize they’re doing it. And they know how to work with sensitivity toward your brand and build custom graphics and data visuals to make what was once a word document into a powerful visual tool.

At the end of the day, I believe if artists have made it “look easy,” where anyone thinks they can just grab a template and do it, then we must be at the top of our game. I’ts like a great dancer that makes it just “look easy” as he glides across the dance floor — but what is actually behind all that appearance of looking easy is years of study, dedication, precision, and practice.

As our friend at Wired said “…creating an effective infographic is much more difficult than just arranging a few charts around a cartoon character. It requires graphic designers [and writers] to tap into their inner data analyst… to crunch numbers and craft a convincing narrative. Few have all these skills at their fingertips.” [2]

It would behoove one not to underestimate the power of a smart designer.

Powerful IG that appears simple, yet secretly clever

Beard

Design by: Matt McInerney

An example of stunning custom graphic work that really brings this infographic’s message to life

infographic example

via Web Republic.

4 – Too Sales Pushy

“Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!”

This is the kind of selfish mentality I think of when I see these types of IGs. The “it’s all about me and my product” types. When companies forget the purpose behind infographics and don’t properly analyze the successful ones, they turn their IG into just another sales ad, infomercial, or billboard. We have plenty of those out there, and it’s just adding to the white noise.

The media is so oversaturated with advertisements, we’ve become desensitized to them, kind of like after watching enough Game of Thrones episodes you become immune to the sight of blood. Or prostitutes.

Our eyeballs glaze over when another ad plays on the TV or on YouTube or as we browse the web. Your audience’s eyes may be glazing over as soon as they see your IG is nothing more than a push for a product or service. It shouldn’t be that surprising that no one wants to “share” advertisements.

Think about it this way — say your audience is the Pinterest crowd. Think about what people share on pinterest: recipes, photography, new hairstyles, at home how-to’s; these are helpful, real things. Not products.

If your audience is on Facebook, they share videos, funny stories, pictures of foreign destinations, an entertaining or powerful news or human interest article, etc. It boils down to sharing experiences, emotions, and entertainment. Again, not products or advertisements.

This is a great example of reaching your audience without being an advertisement. This campaign would have been perfect for a dating website, relationship blog, anything in the love/relationship/sex industry without ever needing to mention a product or service.

 

example of infographic

Design by: Becca Clason

5 – Thinking Inside the Dreaded Box

If your infographic isn’t getting hits and all the other criteria above has been met, ask this one last question: what is the one thing that makes your IG unique?

Maybe you have an IG that speaks to your audience, has a killer placement, solid writing, out of this world design, and truly appeals to viewers in a non-sales-pitchy way. Maybe you really did create a stunning infographic.

But maybe so have 100 other people on the same exact subject.

It could be anything from the design concept, to the way it’s written, to the information you’re presenting. Maybe it’s just been done too many times before and you look like another follower instead of a leader in your chosen market.

Outside the box idea: Animagraffs (Animated infographic, animated gif). I’m sure there are a million IGs out there about “how car engines work,” but this one stands out because of functionality.

animagraph

Design by: Jacob O’Neil

Another out of the box idea. There sure are thousands of U.S. Interstate maps in existence, but this unique design turned the whole concept on it’s head by combining it with subway maps matching the like of the D.C. Metro and the London Underground. It’s eye catching, easy to understand, and holds onto your attention.

map idea

Design by: Cameron Booth

We live in a digital age where every person is practically hosting their own TV talk show through their social media channels and blogs. Our society feeds off of information and is increasingly becoming too busy to dive into long-form articles (like this one). Thus, these people want to be able to quickly and effeciently understand your message — hence the popularity of infographics. But, infographics for the sake of infographics are not going to get you the traffic and virality that you want. In order to accomplish this result, you need to be strategic and smart with how and why you create infographics.

Don’t make the mistakes above when you create your branded infographic!

And if this is your first time with infographics, don’t worry — Copypress has a whole army of individuals who do this day in and day out and who are there with you every step of the way. Check out our CopyPress Infographic Design Process and how we can help you get started on this awesome journey. We’ll have you dancing and celebrating in no time.

dancing

About the author

Kelly Quigley