SXSW Content Track: Long Live the Infographic or Is it Dying a Slow Death?

Om Malik wrote a post this morning, titled “Can someone please stop the infographic madness?” He stated “Not a day goes by when I get an email from someone offering me some kind of infographic. What has really happened is that social media experts discovered that people like to share infographics and many folks like to embed them in their Tumblrs and blogs. This gives ‘the product being pitched’ an online buzz. In other words, it has become a game to game the social web. Maybe it is time for everyone to rethink and reconsider infographics and what they are good for.”

As with any “hot trend” in digital, there are people who jump on the bandwagon and beat a dead horse. These people that are ruining worthy infographics that contain information and data, and tell a story. My blog post from June 2011 about the increasing use of infographics was one of the top 10 viewed Hypertext posts in 2011, and we continue to work with a slew of clients to develop and leverage multiple data-rich infographics, such as Cisco, AMEX, Gartner, Xerox, etc. In fact, Text 100 secured coverage of an American Express-generated infographic centered on mobile payments in Om’s GigaOm with Ryan Kim just a few months back in December.

At SXSW today, I attended a session called Branded Content: We’re All Publishers Now, and Shane Snow, co-founder of Contently spent some time talking about infographics. Shane emphasized that the best infographics are data driven and have a story flow that reads from top to bottom as a traditional story would. He called out that infographics are the one time when it’s interesting for companies to talk about themselves when it comes to data, sharing OK Cupid and FedEex as solid examples.

Main takeaway? The infographic isn’t dying; just the lame and/or worthless ones are. If you’re a brand creating an infographic or a PR person pitching one to reporters or thinking about an infographic from a broader content strategy perspective, don’t stop because of this. Sure you may want to reconsider pitching it to Om, but just be sure as with any other form of content that it’s solid – meaning your infographic tells a story, is data-rich and well-designed, and ultimately adds to the reader experience. Branded content is on the rise, and when used strategically to tell or amplify a data-driven, compelling story, infographics are still a successful means for storytelling.

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