/ˈlistək(ə)l/. If you don't know what a listicle is, I guarantee you that you've read one before. You are actually reading one right this second. By the book, a listicle is "an article structured in the form of a list, typically having some additional content relating to each item." Think Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post or Thrillist. You know, those quick-read articles with catchy, clickbait titles that end up with you having wasted an hour of your time. But who can blame you when listicles carefully titled "22 Tweets About Procrastination That Will Make You Laugh Out Loud" or "19 Scrumptious Thanksgiving Casseroles Guaranteed To Impress Your Guests" keep popping up in your sidebar (those are real titles by the way).
However, a listicle is so much more than just a list or a few bullet points thrown together, sprinkled with highly effective clickbait. As a matter of fact, in combination with platforms such as Medium (a publishing platform founded by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams in August of 2012), listicles are changing the face of journalism. What is causing this unprecedented proliferation of listicles? Read on to find out.
1 | Saves time.
In a previous blog post, I mentioned that in today's fast paced economy time is everything. People are constantly looking for ways to save time, use time more efficiently and maximize time. You know how the saying goes, time is money. Listicles make it very easy for your audience to read a larger amount of content, in a shorter period of time, in comparison with traditional articles. This goes back to the idea that you must be concise in your writing. No time-conscious person would read your 500-word piece about a topic, when nowadays they can get the same information and receive the same value from a 140-character tweet. By having clear, numbered subtitles for each of your points, your reader can quickly jump from section to section to glean your content.
2 | Easy to explain "how-to."
With an absolutely mind-boggling amount of digital content available on the web, many readers have no time for filler content and just want to be told how-to do whatever they are searching for. Listicles are obviously a great format to write an instructional piece (i.e. "How to Change a Tire" or "How to Increase Your Web Traffic") because of their linear, and numbered, style. Each numbered subtitle serves as a primary step in the instructions, and each body paragraph provides additional details and elaboration.
3 | Increased shareability.
Listicles are extremely popular right now, and for good reason. People are sharing these (usually) fun, quick-read pieces all over social media and the internet. Take the time to count how many listicles have been shared on the news feed of your favorite social media site and comment how many you tally-up, below. Most likely, your news feed was crammed full of listicles. Listicles, in combination with a carefully crafted title, are highly shareable pieces of content. Listicles are commonly shared around on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter with such ease and unparalleled traction because they take only a minute to read, are easy to remember and, more often than not, touch on a humourous or trending topic.
4 | WYSIWYG titles.
Any seasoned blogger, or internet marketer, will tell you how important the title of your content can be. With listicles, readers should quickly and easily be able to discern what your content is about. In other words, a listicle title should follow the WYSIWYG style, What You See is What You Get. A listicle title usually starts with a number, giving the reader an idea of the length and value of your content without evening clicking the link. After the number comes the bulk of the title and the text that actually describes what your content is about. One reason it is so common to go on a listicle-reading binge is because of all the catchy titles and the fact that their WYSIWYG titles give readers an exact description of the content is about and how long it will take to read.
Whether you like it or not, listicles are here to stay. Anything that saves people time, is easy to digest, can be shared over-and-over again and is clear-and-concise from the title, is sure to catch-on. If you are a blogger used to writing traditional content, give listicles a try, I think you and your audience will really enjoy them. To read another fantastic listicle, click below.