Infographics Can Put the BS in Social Business

“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with BS.”

Whoever said that must have worked with infographics designers.

Charles Minard's 1869 chart showing the losses...

Charles Minard’s 1869 chart showing the losses in men, their movements, and the temperature of Napoleon’s 1812 Russian campaign. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the last couple years Infographics have taken the Internet by storm. A well-crafted infographic can be informative and insightful, bringing together multiple data points to communicate a complex idea in one easily-understood package.  Some might argue that this craft reached its peak 143 years ago, with Charles Minard’s amazing depiction of Napolean’s 1812 campaign into Russia (seen at right).

How Infographics Help SEO

Today, infographics have become the tool of choice for internet marketers – the idea is to come up with something snappy and eye-catching, and get sites (such as blogs) all over the web to feature it, including a link back to the intended website and thus building its search engine visibility. Even better is when people pass the link around via social networks like Twitter & Facebook, extending reach even further and adding some buzz to the idea being described.

The problem is that this exercise is prone to attention-seeking rather than informing; in the quest to get something out there and get it linked, the emphasis gets placed more on the sizzle than the steak.

The communicative power of infographics becomes hampered when the underlying information is suspect, however. A perfect example of this landed in my inbox this morning, with a request from a site (LearnStuff.com) to promote their new infographic (seen below) featuring some startling statistics describing how much productivity is wasted by American workers surfing social networks while on the job.

Junk Data + Snazzy Design Is Still Junk

What caught my eye was this claim: “In the U.S. alone, 12,207,423,487 collective hours are spent browsing on a social network every day.”

Zowie! No wonder our economy has been sluggish in recovery, we’re wasting over 12 billion hours every day retweeting or liking pictures of cats and other such nonsense.

But wait a minute, there are only 311 million people in the U.S. Do a little quick math, and it seems like the average American is tied up with Twitter, Facebook et al for more than 39 hours every day!

I don’t call that lazy, I call that mind-bogglingly productive. Do folks goof off at work using social media? Of course they do, but claims like the one above cast doubt on this entire exercise. Here’s the infographic in question…

Social Media At Work

 

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