In today’s interview with David Wallace we are to discuss the power of the visual content, the good, bad and scalable infographic campaigns, some infographic distribution options, various online reputation management and negative PR escape plans, and much more! We are pleased to have David Wallace with us, sharing so many interesting insights on a topic so widely discussed in the digital marketing field.
David is the founder and CEO of SearchRank – a search & social media marketing agency, as well as the founder of Infographic Journal – а top infographic portal. He is a conference speaker (PubCon, Search Marketing Expo and Search Engine Strategies, etc.) and a blog editor and contributor and to give away his secret passion before he has said to keep quiet about it, he is devoted roller-coaster fan! His enthusiasm for high-speed adrenaline rides is equally genuine as his interest in infographics, so read on and takes notes for your next content creation project that will involve infographics.
NEVYANA: You say that you tend to post 35 – 50 infographic each and every week – is it difficult to find quality infographics on such a regular basis?
DAVID: We actually get more infographics being submitted to us on a daily basis then we can handle. Many unfortunately do not pass our quality guidelines for one reason or another. Even those that do pass go into a holding queue and are typically not published until about 7-10 days after we receive them. In light of this, we hardly ever need to go out and find infographics to publish as they are already being submitted to us.
NEVYANA: In your experience what are the top areas/industries that inspire the creation of infographics that are especially rich in useful information/that have great design/that stand out for being exceptionally creative?
DAVID: No matter what industry, infographics that are informative seem to do the best. For example, this one on beauty hacks has done considerably well. This Ultimate Towel Folding Guide, which is more of a how-to, is also a continuous favorite on our site.
NEVYANA: Which in your opinion could be deemed as a really bad infographic piece – one that has a low quality content and/or sloppy design, one that lacks clear concept and consistency, one that is looking cheap, hastily executed, or not promoted properly…?
DAVID: I could provide you examples all day long. In fact, most of the infographics submitted to us are really, really bad. Here is one example if you want to show it.
A bad infographic typically consists of poor design elements, doesn’t include enough information, is too self-promoting, has too much stock clip-art, or is not even an infographic in the first place but more likened to a post card or a textual post sprinkled with a few images.
NEVYANA: What are the things one could compromise with when creating a scalable infographic campaign (that is to release infographics on a regular basis without having to face huge budget cuts or low ROI) – design costs, promotion time, research efforts – any or neither of those?
DAVID: We did a series of infographics for a medical education portal where the basic design elements of the infographics stayed consistent but the topics varied. For example, “What is Bipolar Disorder” became the topic of one, while another was, “What is Anxiety Disorder,” and so on and so forth.
Otherwise, I don’t feel compromising on research, design or even good marketing is a wise idea as it can actually have a negative effect to what one is trying to accomplish in the first place, which is typically building brand awareness, driving traffic and increasing inbound links and social signals.
NEVYANA: Is there a right balance between text and visuals in an infographic project or there is no universal rule to adhere to as it usually depends on the selected topic?
DAVID: I believe it does depend on the topic but I’d say that to be heavy on the text side is worse than the opposite. Infographics are supposed to be “visual” representations of data or information. When infographics accomplish nothing more than a textual post with a few images can, then they are not really an infographic at all and may even offend trying to pass themselves off as one.
NEVYANA: In an interview you’ve once mentioned that one of your favorite infographics is: “Alternative Holidays: Festivus For the Rest of Us”, would you say that one of the winning ingredients of a shareable infographic is the good sense of humor?
DAVID: It can be but not always. In the two examples I shared earlier, neither are humorous but more on the informative side and have performed very well.
NEVYANA: In order to gain maximum exposure on social medias it is best to periodically retweet the existing content. As it comes to an infographic project would you recommend retweeting the given post on a weekly/monthly/etc. basis?
DAVID: We of course always initially post a tweet when publishing an infographic. Then if it is of a higher quality, may do another later in the day followed by one the following day in the format of, “In case you missed…” or similar. Then if it is performing well, it may be good to do a periodic retweet or even if it has a topic that might be relevant to any future news or trends that are occurring.
NEVYANA:: What tools would you recommend for monitoring social mentions and activity? Platforms like Topsy and Twiterland have proven to give really interesting data on content reshares and popularity. Are there any specific social analyzing tools that you simply cannot go without?
DAVID: We use this simple tool to see what shares an infographic is getting – http://www.feedthebot.com/tools/social/. Of course, if the post the infographic is published in has social sharing buttons such as Digg Digg, Add This or similar, they will tell you the same as far as number of shares goes.
Other than that, we look at Google Analytics to learn where traffic is coming from and behavioral patterns. We may also utilize Google Webmaster Tools and Raven’s Backlink Explorer to discover how people may be linking to the infographics.
NEVYANA: In your experience is sending DM to an influencer in Twitter way too intrusive as it comes to content promotion? If one is to directly make an outreach to a person with content suggestion isn’t it best not to be pressed by characters limit?
DAVID: I think it depends on the person you are reaching out to and their preference as to how they like to be pitched. We have done both DM via Twitter as well as email outreach. There is also messaging on Facebook, notifying in Google+, sending message via LinkedIn and more. I guess it really depends on where the influencer is most active.
Also crucial is if you have any relationship with the influencer and/or if the content you are pitching would be of specific interest to them. If you have either of these two “ducks in order” you are more likely to get their attention.
NEVYANA: According to your observations what (if any) are the differences between the two social network users (Twitter and Facebook) in terms of behavior and interests Content on what kind of topics is mostly welcomed on Facebook and what on Twitter?
DAVID: I’m not sure of the difference between a Facebook user and a Twitter user as most that I know (myself included) use both. It is widely known that Facebook users stay on Facebook for longer periods of time whereas Twitter is more of a way to communicate something quickly. Other than that, I feel it depends on the content as well as the network of followers one has in either network. Beyond that, I wouldn’t feel qualified to say what type of content works best on each social media network but can say to monitor closely and then apply what is learned to future projects.
NEVYANA: Which is the best social network to create a viral wave of shares on a piece of content or that varies depending on the format and the topic of the given content piece?
DAVID: Personally, we have found StumbleUpon and Pinterest to be the best networks to create a viral wave of shares. At Infographic Journal, there have been times that traffic from StumbleUpon has put serious strain on our server!
NEVYANA: How did you decide to focus on the social aspect of digital marketing instead of on the more technical alternatives like on-site optimizations, or for instance local SEO?
DAVID: Actually, our parent company, SearchRank, who owns Infographic Journal, is a SEO company at its core. It is just that on-page SEO and local SEO for locally based businesses are more foundational strategies these days and often need to be combined with social digital marketing. Not to mention that there is more market share out there besides good rankings on Google. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and others all have huge user bases that can drive traffic and earn brand recognition.
NEVYANA: In 2012 you were working on rather fascinating project Disney-O-Rama – why did you put that website on hold? Are you planning to come back to it one day?
DAVID: Ah yes, Disney-O-Rama! First of all, I am a Disney fanatic. Disney-O-Rama is a place where I can post everything Disney but yes as you have noticed, the site has become stagnant. There are two reasons for this; 1.) Our SearchRank workload as well as the daily managing of Infographic Journal has left little time for Disney-O-Rama. 2.) I soon discovered that it is hard to compete with other Disney-type blogs run by folks that either live in Orlando (Walt Disney World) or Anaheim (Disneyland Resort). I’m in Phoenix, Arizona and it is not easy for me as it is for them, to just run over to the park when something newsworthy is occurring.
I would like to get back to Disney-O-Rama some day or maybe even sell it to someone who could utilize it to its greatest benefit. As to when that might happen, I have no set date as of right now.
NEVYANA: Infographic Journal on the other hand turned out to be a long-term project that enjoys a huge audience today – was it difficult to achieve that? Did the maintenance and management of this infographic portal help you gain closer and deeper insights on social media promotion strategies?
DAVID: Infographic Journal is a lot of work! We put at least a couple of hours every day into it, typically at the start of each day. It has provided a wealth of information into effective social media promotion strategies although we already had a huge network of social media influencers in place prior to the launch of Infographic Journal.
NEVYANA: Are you planning on taking up on new projects in the near future?
David: Yes but I am not at liberty to say what they might be at this time. 😉
NEVYANA: What is your opinion on interactive infographics – are they the future of the infographic genre?
DAVID: Interactive infographics can be cool but they are pricey. Even a good static infographic costs more than most small businesses can afford. As to whether they are the future, I’d say they are the now as plenty exist. However, not every good infographic needs to be interactive to be effective in telling a story visually. Therefore, I believe static infographics will continue to co-exist among interactive and even animated and video infographics.
NEVYANA: One of the services that your company SearchRank offers is Online Reputation Management. Which would you categorize as being the essential steps in providing comprehensive online reputation management service and which are the most common challenges in accomplishing the goals of an ORM campaign?
DAVID: Essential steps would be of course to make sure one has a good corporate web site and even web sites if multiple sites are necessary and then to make sure they have all the major social media profiles in place. The main ones they should be concerned with in my opinion are Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Tumblr. There are myriads of others as well that a company can at least secure their username profiles on. A great service that will do this for you is Knowem.
The general idea with having a good corporate web site or sites as well as social media properties is that you will be in a better position to control the SERPs for your brand name than if these essential steps are not taken.
NEVYANA: Recently a lot of SEOs have stumbled upon online bullies, who are threatening to spam a given website with bad links if not paid accordingly. Other negative SEO actions consist in undermining a company image on social medias like Twitter for instance. What would be your advice the common business owner who’s facing an attack on particular social media: how he is to protect his reputation and not risk losing his potential customers who have read the incriminating messages?
DAVID: One thing I think SEOs or any webmaster should do is resist the urge to respond to email solicitations (spam) that say “they can improve your SEO or online marketing.” I feel many of these are “fishing” for potential victims. Just ignore them! I know it’s hard to do as an SEO but you may be sorry if you give in.
For an attack already in place, I think one of the best things a company can do is to try to provide good customer service to those who are dissatisfied. To simply ignore attacks is not going to make things better or make them go away. By at least trying to appease a disgruntled customer shows everyone else that you are at least making a best effort to “make the customer happy.” I think that goes a long way in establishing a good reputation for any company.
NEVYANA: Given that we are mainly helping out local businesses improve their online visibility my next question has them in mind. Do you often stumble upon infographics with local specific content or those are rather an exception to the rule?
DAVID: All the time! We recently published an infographic that was sent to us entitled, “Toronto: Flying Flags for Many Nations,” that has a lot of great local content. There are many more examples on Infographic Journal. They can deal with things like “best restaurants,” “such and such a place is good for starting a business,” “best hotels,” “things to do in..” and the list goes on.
NEVYANA: Last year you were a speaker at PubCon. You actually presented in two sessions: “Convergence of Social Media & Search” and “Proactive Link Campaign Tactics.” One year later would you say that your opinions on social media tactics and link building strategies have changed significantly? What are the new takeaways from 2014 search engine algo & guidelines changes?
DAVID: I would say that everything I presented last year is still viable unless of course I mentioned Google Authorship. No need to worry about that any longer!
NEVYANA: In several online interviews you offer predictions of the SEO future would you mind doing this once gain and sharing with us your opinion on the personalized search? Do you think that in the current highly personalized search environment, innovative players like DuckDuckGo stand the chance to attract greater popularity and wider audience?
DAVID: If you are asking if players like DuckDuckGo are going to knock Google off their pedestal, sadly I don’t think so. I wish someone would and if it were to happen it would most likely have to be the likes of Amazon, Facebook or maybe Apple.
One thing that any Google contender might want to focus on is giving precedence to small to medium size businesses in the SERPs. Google seems to be giving more favor to big brands and big business with bottomless marketing budgets and I feel people will eventually get tired of always seeing big brands dominating the results when they don’t always deserve to be there.
Thank you for your time David, it was really interesting hearing your thoughts and I am sure our readers would really appreciate your valuable insights and would incorporate them in their current online marketing strategy!