Can someone please stop the infographic madness?

A few years ago, we started doing info graphics by actually doing a lot of research on data and then working with a great group of guys to create art and visualization. One of them was good enough to be linked from Apple’s website. Old magazine hands called these infographics, charticles. Wired and the old Red Herring were particularly good at this stuff. (No surprise, because my former editor and goddess of the charticle, Joanna Pearlstein works(worked) for both those publications.) USA Today, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, too had been creating these graphics for a long time, except they didn’t use them as a way to generate web-buzz.

Mint, a financial management company did a great job of using infographics to draw attention to their blog and by extension to their service. Their success encouraged other companies to do adopt similar tactics. On the other end of the spectrum, newer publications including blogs like ours created a lot of buzz and traffic for us and others such as Fast Company and Good Magazine. What they did – they told a story. They were packed with a lot of information and numbers. Most importantly, they added to the reader experience.

It is my belief that in modern times, no success goes unpunished. Infographics, too, were “punished” for their success. Today, not a day goes by when I get an email from someone offering me some kind of infographic – online buzz for Oscar nominees, for example. Or a graphic outlining (Good) S**t @Garyvee Says from Hubspot! Now I like Gary and Hubspot seems to be a decent enough company, but does that need to be an 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 tumblers 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.

A letter from Om

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