How Long Is Too Long For an Infographic
In the world of social networking, things move pretty fast.
Trends come and go - that technique that was poised to be the "hot new thing" just a few short years ago could prove itself to be a passing fad in absolutely no time at all, which is why you should always try to capitalize on these things as fast as you can to avoid being left in the cold.
But having said that, there's one marketing and customer outreach technique that exploded in popularity on social networking and elsewhere over the last few years that shows absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon: the Infographic.
Not only are they still more popular than ever in that they're more likely to be "Liked" and "Shared" than almost any other type of content, but many are predicting that Infographics will even replace long-form content like white papers in the near future.
At the same time, all of this demands the question: how long is too long for an Infographic? How much time do you really have before someone's eyes start to glaze over, they slam the "Back" button on their browser and never return to that content you spent so much time creating with them in mind?
The answer to that question definitely requires you to keep a few key things in mind.
Infographic Length: Breaking Things Down
For a moment, let's return to the idea that many marketers think that not only are traditional whitepapers a relic of an era that is now officially over, but that Infographics are poised to rise up and replace them. This actually tells us a great deal about the larger topic in one clear, easy-to-understand scenario.
First, it's not that consumers suddenly hate white papers - it's that their time is inherently valuable. Outside of the B2B space, people don't really have the time it takes to devote to something as long form as that particular type of content.
But what this really tells us is something we already knew - your customers and clients want detailed, specific information, but they also want it presented to them in a way that is straightforward and that can be digested as quickly as possible.
They want you to hit the same points that you would have with a presentation, only they want you to do it in an A) highly visual way, that B) offers an experience that requires a fraction of the time.
So how long is too long for an Infographic?
Simple - any length that runs contrary to those two important points.
When you sit down to make Infographics with a tool like Visme (which I founded), remember that the collective time of your audience is valuable. Think about the promise you're making with your content in the first place. The story you want to tell, the question you want to answer, the problem you want to solve.
Your Infographic needs to live up to that promise, but do so as fast as it possibly can. If that's an Infographic that takes about one minute to digest, that's perfectly fine. If it takes ten minutes, that's probably fine too. If it takes longer than that, it's probably a sign that you're straying away from your original promise - which is exactly where length starts to become a factor.
At that point, consider pulling out some of your main points and presenting them through other means. Maybe there's a chunk that would be better suited as a scatter plot - you convey the same idea in a more visual way that doesn't detract from the Infographic itself. Or maybe there's a particular point that demands elaboration in a way that would harm the Infographic, which means that you should pull it out and present it some other way (like in the form of a flyer).
Think about this in terms of feature films, to give you an example. "Titanic" is one of the highest grossing movies ever made - it's also over three hours long. But every minute in that movie is valuable. It all relates back to the experience that viewers wanted to have in the first place. There's no meandering and there are very few scenes that could obviously be cut. By and large, people don't have a problem with the fact that "Titanic" isn't 90 minutes because the entire movie relates back to that core premise and doesn't waste the time of audience members in any way.
People don't generally care that something is long, provided that it's actually good to begin with. People don't hate long Infographics. They hate Infographics that are boring that also happen to be long. To that end, provided that you've taken steps to make sure that your Infographic isn't boring, you really don't have much to worry about.
Length is Your Ally. Treat It Like One.
In truth, most people care less about how a message is delivered than the quality of the message itself. It wasn't necessarily the fact that you presented someone with an Infographic that earned you their click and their time - it was whatever you promised they would learn, or whatever question you said you'd answer, or problem you said you'd solve.
Provided that you live up to your end of the bargain, length doesn't matter nearly as much as a lot of people tend to think it does.
Having said that, you should still practice the "shorter is always better" rule whenever possible. For the absolute best results, try to design an experience that takes no more than ten(ish) minutes to complete. It's not necessarily that people will give up in droves after that time frame has passed. It's that a longer Infographic is probably a sign that you're using the format incorrectly to begin with.
At that point, people won't stop viewing your content because it's too long. They'll stop viewing it because they'll begin to think it's boring and it's getting away from what you promised them originally. The essential thing for you to understand is... they're probably right.
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