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Archive for May 16th, 2012

Bitten by the infographics bug

Did I ever tell you the story of how Marcie Brock came to be? Well, if you’re one of the 116 people who’s read our About page and you read past the 8th paragraph, you may know some of the story. The whole truth involves a little more vanity than that, however.

Two years or so ago, I came across a graphic created by TheOatmeal.com about the meaning of the word literally.

Literally means actually or without exaggeration. When you say ‘I literally…’ it means you’re describing something exactly as it happened; you are being literal.

It then goes on to demonstrate examples of how most people use the term wildly incorrectly, one of which is “I literally got your back, bro.”

If you share my penchant for precise speech/language/grammar, you understand why this was so appealing, simply on a language accuracy scale. Add in the humor, and it’s off-the-charts impressive. Pile on the fact TheOatmeal.com is now selling a “Grammar Pack” of 5 posters for $40, and I’m really intrigued, right?

Most of their stuff is really good, including a great post about the stupid things people do to get more Facebook likes. You may want to go visit for ideas, AFTER you’ve finished reading this post.

OK, so what does all this have to do with Marcie? Well, TheOatmeal.com has a flair for having their stuff go viral, meaning it gets shared and shared and shared and shared again. So I kept going back to their site, wondering how I could come up with something that would be equally enticing. This is where the info on the About page comes in:

As proficient as I am at blogging and writing, doing it regularly has always proven a bit challenging for me. Additionally, the idea of a cartoon series [seemed] to me [like something that could have that viral potential]. The last week of April 2011, I StumbledUpon a post that listed 10 sites for creating your own cartoons. After just a few minutes of dabbling, the idea for Marcie Brock took shape … and here we are today.

And we’re doing great. Our big viral day wasn’t really related to book marketing, but we were viewed by 841 people for our International Women’s Day post on March 7, 2012. And we’re starting to see some significant traction now. So, of course, a new interest is percolating: infographics.

You can thank John Kremer’s tweeting of two very cool infographics last night for this post. (BTW, he was tweeting interesting pins from other users on Pinterest, a novel way of leveraging two very popular forms of social media.)

The first was a graphic from Open Parachute for readers considering the switch to eBooks.

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The second was a fantastic graphic from Vertical Measures about using social media to build your authority online.

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The first two got me to looking around the web for other interesting examples of infographics. I’ll share a few I found below with my comments, but you should really feel free to do your own exploring. Just do a search of Google Images for “infographics.” Add an additional search term if you want infographics on a particular topic.

This graphic by Digital Home Info uses the simple concept of a hamburger to explain the components of a good content marketing plan.

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TheNextWeb.com has a fairly simple graphic about publishing in the digital era.

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The Young Adult Library Services Association blog got into the infographics game with a graphic of which high school students are most likely to use the library. While it’s not as sophisticated as some of the others, I think consideration for the audience may factor in. Also note, it’s the only one of these examples using photos, rather than graphic design components. That may lend to the scattered feeling of the overall graphic.

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My very favorite of all the graphics I’m sharing today is one by CreativePro.com that highlights the Twitter competition (self-implemented?) between @CreativeProse and @InDesignMag. I like the colors a lot, and particularly like the creative use of the different sized “paint spatters” to indicate who was ahead in the Twitter Showdown.

Did you happen to catch the title of this post? Will Online Infographics Replace PowerPoint?

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So if you’re like me, maybe the infographic bug is beginning to gnaw at you a bit. If you want some help and advice, here are a few infographics tips from MakeUseOf.com:

  1. Keep it simple! Don’t try to do too much in one picture.
  2. Decide on a colour scheme.
  3. Research some great facts and statistics.
  4. Think of it as a visual essay: ensure your arguments hold and are relevant.
  5. Remember that it’s all about quickly conveying the meaning behind complex data.
  6. Draw conclusions.
  7. Reference your facts in the infographic.
  8. Include your URL so people can be sure who made it.

These are GREAT tips I plan to implement myself. I’m especially fond of #1 – KEEP IT SIMPLE! Way too many infographics either overreach, or worse: their graphics require elaborate text explanations, so in order to fit everything on the page, they make the text so tiny that it is impossible to read. It may look great on the oversize screens the designers are using with their Macs, but when it translates to the average user’s screen via a website, it’s unintelligible. As for you mobile device folks? No freaking way.

The same article also offers information about free tools you can use to create your infographics.

So who’s in with me?

I know my coach would ask by when I plan to have this done. As we’re heading into the Author Blog Challenge and I will readily admit I’m not Wonder Woman, I’m going to give myself some room and make July 15 my goal for my first attempt at a very cool Marcie Brock infographic. If you have any ideas what kinds of data you’d like me to feature, please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Here’s to staying informed – and informing the world!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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