You have seen them. "Top 6 Ways To..." "Top 35 Examples Of..." "Best 4583 Reasons To..." Listicles (List + Article) dominate the way information is disseminated on the web, especially in social media. Let's take a look at what we can learn from this content delivery format.
What Is A Listicle?
Simply put, a listicle is any article that is actually a list. Made popular by social networking content distributors like Buzzfeed and Upworthy, listicles engage the curiosity of the user, drawing them in to read this next important list that someone has culled especially for you.
What Do Listicles Teach Us?
Web communication is an art different than any other. What works for print or even face to face will fail on the web. Why? Because the attention span of your web visitor is immensely short. Shorter than short. We would love to believe that our amazing content is brilliant and captivating enough to keep the attention span of most visitors. But it's not. Yours isn't. Ours isn't either.
When designing content for the web, follow these rules:
- Narrow Your Communication
How little can you say in this communication? Make fewer points. Remove unwanted paragraphs. Do you really need those graphics? Earn your audience's trust by consistently providing meaty content in easy-to-digest packages. As they learn that you respect their time by giving them the best stuff quickly, they will return to read your next article too.
- Use Headers and Lists
The ability to quickly scan an article to get the highlights provides significant benefit. It allows your visitor to quickly determine if they want to read your content and which parts of the content they want to dive further into. If you have an email list, deliver a single headline and quick summary to their inbox. They decide if they want to click and read more,
- Tease Your Audience
We are naturally curious. As much as I hate reading those sub-headlines ("#7 really made me question myself!"), it provides even added incentive to read your content. Your goal should be evoking interest from your audience to come read your content. Thought provoking headlines and fleeting glances in to the riches your content provides will do just that.
We also believe in telling the truth. However, in spite our earlier promise of 453 items in our own listicle, we are going to stop at 3. If you're not sure why, please review #1 above. Happy writing!