List Posts (or Listicles as they’re more popularly known, being articles written as lists) seem to be everywhere these days.
So why are list posts so popular?
Writers and journalists tend to be disparaging of them, but much as they might hate to admit it, almost everyone loves a good listicle.
The quality of the content of course is entirely dependent on the skill of the writer and how much time and effort he or she spent in creating the post.
And they do have a long pedigree – The Ten Commandments anyone? Their origins are lost in the mists of time, but possibly the first one was created when Og returned to his cave one day and painted on the wall, ‘Ten things you can do with a wooden club (you won’t believe number six!)’
Most important of all, list posts just get results. Here are the main ones:
- Increased organic traffic
- Lower bounce rate
- Increased social sharing
- Increased dwell time
- Increased conversions
- Increased comments
- Increased clickthroughs
- Increased engagement
Why do list posts work so well? According to Copyblogger the list post “makes a very specific promise of what’s in store for the reader.”
And apparently our brains just love that!
Here are 7 reasons why list posts are so popular:
1. You know how many facts or ‘factoids’ you’re going to get upfront.
The human brain loves organization and order. So numbered lists gives it the order it craves. Our brains also love specific numbers (‘specificity’), as well as the promise of a definite ending defined in advance. Knowing more about the article increases the chance we’ll commit to reading it.
2. They’re much easier to write
The author can just think up each part seperately, and then arrange them all together in a convincing way. It’s only necessary to brainstorm different ideas that relate to a particular topic, create the different sub-topics and then flesh them out.
This is much simpler than having to think about an entire full-length article, which needs to be more consistent and requires the author to consider a lot more information and how it’s all inter-related to other parts of the whole.
3. They’re excellent for skimming
There’s no need to read the whole article or even in any particular order, since each ‘mini-article’ is self-contained. They’re easier on the eye since they’re naturally broken up into short, distinct components. There’s no requirement to read the whole thing, just pick and choose the sections that look interesting to you.
You can’t do that with traditional articles, since you might skip over an important piece of information necessary for an understanding of the rest of the article.
4. They’re good for viewing on mobile devices
Viewers these days are more frequently ‘news snacking’ and checking for news with short bursts of attention, probably due to the fact that their smartphones provide an almost limitless amount of apps and information competing for their attention.
Younger readers are generally considered to have shorter attention spans these days due to regular social media consumption and having been raised with smartphones and other mobile devices.Thus they have driven demand for listicles that can deliver them news and information in bite-sized chunks that can also be easily shared digitally with their friends. Twitter with it’s (previously) 140 character texts is also probably at least partially responsible.
5. They’re more likely to be shared via social media
Many people will share an article based purely on the title—in fact 8 out of 10 people will ONLY read the title. Congratulations on being one of the 2 out of 10 to read this!
This of course is one of the driving forces behind the ‘click-bait’ title, where sensational and salacious headlines are used to encourage people to click and share.
Listicles have proven to be very popular on sites such as Reddit, Buzzfeed and Digg, where they can often spread virally if they prove popular enough.
6. You can stop and start reading anytime
When reading a listicle there’s no need to worry that if you stop before you’re finished you’ll lose the gist of what you were reading. At most you’ll only need to re-read one or two sentences to get back to where you were when you left off.
This is more difficult with a traditional article since it can be harder to find the spot where you broke off, as well as recall enough information that you’d previously read to fully comprehend what you’re reading.
7. People like to have information summarized
Since the invention of the Internet it seems like there’s an infinity of information these days bombarding our senses whenever we Google a topic of interest.
So we’re naturally drawn to articles that promise to summarize that information for us in easily digestible chunks that won’t force us to think too much, rather than concentrating hard trying to make sense of a lengthy essay.
What vital reasons for the popularity of Listicles have I neglected to include? List them for me in the comments!
FREE PDF: 'How to Write Great Headlines That Get More Blog Traffic'
Enter Email For Instant Access!