infographics and content marketing

Are Infographics A Worthwhile Investment For Your Content Marketing?

As little as two years ago, some of us said the infographic got hammered and it just wasn’t worthwhile anymore when it came to content marketing strategies. Is this true? Are infographics on the down and out, incapable of spicing up and improving our content marketing plans? Is it possible to still create quality infographics, or should we forget about them entirely and try something else?

According to a recent article by CopyBlogger (and we’re talking end of September kind of recent), research suggests that publishers who leverage infographics tend to grow in traffic by about 12 percent more than those who don’t. In fact, they went so far as to present the information in…can you guess it? That’s right! An infographic:

copyblogger infographic

Photo credit CopyBlogger

Wow! It makes you think twice about infographics, now doesn’t it? Maybe these little visual packets aren’t so bad after all?

The What’s What of Infographics

According to Wikipedia, infographics are information graphics. They have a pretty rich history, dating back as far as 1626 when Christoph Scheiner published the Rosa Ursina sive Sol. The very first infographic debuted in this publication and illustrated the Sun’s rotation patterns so that non-scientific minds could easily grasp the concept.

Today, infographics are still visual representations of data or information. They’re a prime means of turning complex information into something almost anyone can quickly understand. Unlike 1626, today they are social media friendly. It’s not uncommon for these tidy pieces of content to go viral. They appeal to our visual senses, which often make them initially more powerful than our standard text based content.

Yet, these handy marketing tools have flaws. You’d think that a content type dating back to the 1600s would be perfected by now! Then again, how many of us saw the Internet coming? And in all honesty, how many of us can accurately predict just how Google will react to the content types we choose?

The Downfall of Infographics

The biggest downfall to information graphics is the fact that Google can’t index the content contained within them. The same issue applies to any image we choose to use. Crawlers are not (yet) sophisticated enough to capture the words on images and index them.

As is the case with every type of content out there, it’s entirely possible to produce low quality. If you’re not careful, you can create awful infographics. According to CopyBlogger, Google’s Matt Cutts had some pointed observations about bad infographics:

  • When it comes to topics, they can get off topic.
  • It’s not uncommon for the facts contained within them to be of poor quality.
  • The link (or links) associated with infographics often go to sites that are completely unrelated.
  • The link (or links) embedded in the infographics are sometimes undetectable by viewers.

Cutts wrapped up his observations by concluding that in the future, infographic-type links just might be discounted or devalued by Google. So, the point is you have two outcomes when it comes to infographics:

  1. Nail it! Produce a high quality, well researched, gorgeously presented, relevantly linked information graphic. It won’t be indexed by crawlers, but it will be a one hit wonder that can be repeated with new products that increase traffic and boom your business.
  2. Fail It. Produce low quality infographics void of confirmed facts and relevant links that are eye catching but otherwise worthless. They won’t be indexed by crawlers, but they won’t be one hit wonders either. Low quality = get hammered (no, not with alcohol) and you’ll be in danger of infographic type links getting devalued.

But there’s something else to think about, too. Are you infecting the Web with an unwanted virus?

Second-Degree Duplication

Do you have a case of second-degree duplicate content? It’s a plague that just doesn’t seem to let up, as discussed by Eric Enge and Matt Cutts. What are we talking about? Second-degree duplicate content is when a user goes to pages that all contain the same information. Even though they aren’t identical and thus identified as duplicates, they’re so similar that the user frowns and clicks the back button because the information they’re after just isn’t there.

The problem with this scenario is that no additional value is being brought to the reader. No, the content isn’t duplicated, but it’s not bringing anything new to the table either! How does this relate to our discussion of infographics? Well, if you’re not careful, your infographics will simply rehash information and cause second-degree duplication, the kind that isn’t technically duplicated, but doesn’t offer anything of value either.

Repurposing Content Doesn’t Mean Rehash the Same Old Same Old

Infographics have taken off in the content industry as a means of repurposing older content into a new form of media capable of drawing a diverse (and fresh) audience. We’ve talked about turning long-winded copy into a handy infographic as a tactic for making your content go viral. But there’s an element that you have to consider if you expect infographics to be a worthwhile content marketing investment: Fresh perspective.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with repurposing content via an infographic, but you must offer somethingof value. This means you must offer something new. Otherwise, your repurposed content will be little more than a fancy case of second-degree duplication, and it could very well fail.

Infographics as an Asset

At the start of 2014, we ran a series of blogs tagged 2014 Success, and success number five was all about why you should create infographics. We even provided a brief how to that handed our readers 10 popular ways of using infographics. The truth is this content type is a worthwhile investment IF you do it right. So without further ado, here’s your short guide to creating assets in infographics:

  • Focus on Relevancy: It’s the key to every type of content. If it’s not relevant, don’t use it. It’s really that simple! Google is not a fan of irrelevant links or content. Period. (I want to add in an exclamation point because this point just cannot be over emphasized!) It doesn’t matter what we’re talking about content wise. If a link is irrelevant or a stretch, it’s just not going to do good things for your content or your website, and in the end, it contributes to low quality. So don’t go linking to irrelevant websites just for link value. You’re aiming a gun at your foot, and it’s only a matter of time before it goes off.
  • Fact Quality Matters: You can present facts within a layout that is to die for, but it will be for nothing if those facts are flimsy. Audiences know what infographics are, and they know that these content mediums are supposed to contain facts. If they realize the facts you’ve chosen are unverified and ultimately inaccurate, you’ll lose readership instantly. And what’s worse, you’ll lose credibility, authority, and trust. Ultimately, you will risk alienating your audience, which includes paying customers. Customer loyalty could quickly become a thing of the past. Fact quality really does matter, even when the text isn’t crawled and indexed.
  • Hunt for Sources: It’s easy to get so carried away with the visual aspect of an infographic that we forget to pay attention to our fact quality, but the same applies to hunting for sources. Before you even begin creating an infographic, you should be hunting for sources to reference or link to, and they must be relevant. If you’re repurposing content, it’s not a bad idea to build in a link to that original piece of copy. It’s also helpful to build links to sources that back up the claims your graphic is making. And don’t forget to make those links visible. If your audience doesn’t see them, they’ll never know to click.
  • Repurpose That High Value Content: So, it’s not going to happen overnight. Let’s just state that up front. Infographics are one of the most amazing ways of repurposing your high value content into an audience frenzy that contains a little something new. But you’re not going to create 10 of these overnight. They’re going to take time, just like that high value content takes time to create.

Infographics are an asset, but they’re also a workhorse. They have few limitations outside of staying away from thin or poorly prepared content. We thought the value of these assets was degrading, but the truth is it was a dip in quality that sent us reeling. Is it really surprising? Bad quality causes bad things! High quality causes good things.

Dedicate yourself to awesome quality. It’s the key to everything. I know, it almost sounds too good to be true, but don’t let this simple statement fool you. Awesome quality isn’t easy. You can’t snap your fingers and make it magically appear. It’s going to take work, hard work. But you can do it. And as a result, you’ll find that infographics are truly a worthwhile investment for content marketing.

 Photo credit: Rawpixel / iStock

 

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