Gather some interesting statistics and then make a chart out of it– and you’ve got yourself an Infographic. Examples are showing a map of the world and income for each country displayed by green bars. Or perhaps it’s the price of gasoline over the last 2 years graphed against milk prices to show some interesting trend. The goal of an infographic is to visually stimulate people with statistics and get them to tell their friends or blog about it. A few days ago, I saw an InfoGraphic showing the percentage of times people tweet after having sex. Certainly that drew some attention, although I’m not sure how accurate their methodology is. It’s not as if you can set up hidden cameras in bedrooms across the world to measure this. The percentage is 36% in that study, by the way, if you’re wondering.
There are 4 steps to getting this done:
- Get the raw data-– some folks will do a survey, which is easy enough to do via Facebook and Twitter. Just do a web search and you’ll see a number of sites that allow you to create free or inexpensive polls. The plus– polls are easy and you can get data fast. The cons– massive sampling bias, as you’re not getting a random sample, plus your sample size is likely too small to have statistical significance. The best results are where you can scrape from a large dataset– but this may require you to spend money to get that data via a gnip, addtoit, or other services. Some are free and some require no programming.
- Crunch it– slice, dice, and manipulate the data. Some Excel wizardry– or SQL queries if you have a larger data set and need to load it into a database– and you have your aggregates. Group by keyword, geography, type of user, or other attribute.
- Make an image— Easiest and most common tactic is to do a map overlay. For example, look at the beer drinkers in America by state. Or you can do something silly, such as The Onion’s mockery of MySpace’s privacy. Not a great designer? Just find someone on Rentacoder or Odesk for $100, telling them what imagery to imitate. If you’re doing an Infographic on how many cups of coffee Americans drink, broken out by the state.
- Promote the heck out of it: If you’ve done the previous 3 steps right, you’ll go viral. Make sure that nobody can nail you on poor methodology– bad sampling, incorrect assumptions, or other flaws in your research. Blog about it, get your friends to dig it, and post it on your Facebook and Twitter. A good headline here can make or break the result.
If you generate enough controversy or have something hilarious and/or interesting, then watch this go viral– and the links to your site will start flowing. Brent Csutoras, the best social media link builder on the planet (in my opinion), told me that he can sometimes get tens of thousands of links from a single post. That includes a smattering of PR7 and PR8 links– if you hit a home run. But perhaps a typical viral campaign will generate just a few hundred links– you never really know.
Now compare those results against trying to buy links or reaching out to bloggers one at a time. Even if you could buy links without getting in trouble, what would the comparable cost be? Matt Cutts, the Google spokesperson for SEO, says that this link-building methodology is completely white hat and legitimate.
So what are you waiting for? What interesting factoids and tidbits can you assemble for the website that you’re trying to promote?