Instant gratification and short attention spans have created an impatient and easily distracted audience for content creators. In fact, in 2014, the attention span of the average human decreased to 8.25 seconds, less than a goldfish. When opening up a new Internet page or link, the average consumer clicks away from it within 10 seconds. When it comes to putting content out on your blog, list writing (listicles) might be the best way to get the attention of your audience.
Why your audience prefers lists:
- Effortless consumption: The writer does the brainwork for the reader. When a consumer reads an article, they have to evaluate the information, categorize it, decide what’s most important, and conceptualize it all. Lists do the hard work for the consumer so that they only have to read the pre-processed information.
- Clear communication: The information is straight to the point and there are no misunderstandings due to the author’s style.
- Few surprises: Readers know what they are getting into when they click on the link; there are no surprises or misleading headlines.
- No fear of commitment: Readers know exactly how much time they will have to commit to the article; there is a distinguishable end identified by the number of listed items in the title.
- Sub headers: Readers don’t have to read all of the bullet points, and studies have shown most people don’t. They can harvest the information they need or want to get from the post by skimming sub headers.
- Organization: The Guardian argues that people like lists because they like to feel in-control with a sense of order in their lives.
- Attention grabbing: Numbers, which usually come first in a list’s heading, catch the reader’s attention when they are skimming through thousands of words on their Facebook feed or search engine results.
It’s obvious that modern day consumers prefer lists because they catch their attention and provide a valuable return on the amount of time and energy invested into the article; all it takes is a few seconds, maybe a minute, in exchange for exactly the information promised in the headline. Some bloggers say lists are killing creativity and doing away with style and nuance; however, if there is a trending change in the global audience’s consumption style, content creators cannot ignore it for the sake of writing as an art.
7 tips for turning your blog post into a successful “listicle:”
- Clear headline: Tell the reader exactly what kind of information you are about to give them.
- Relevance: Keep your writing relevant to your audience, and more importantly, don’t stray from the information you promised in the title.
- Give them what they want: Start with the most important information first. If you make consumers wait for the meat of the article, they might lose interest and click out of the page.
- Hook them: Try to hook your reader with an interesting introduction or information that will make them want to read on.
- Short and sweet: There’s no need to drag out bullet points with elaborate sentences if they could be three or four words long.
- Slideshow: The only thing people love more than lists are photos; mix it up and make your list into a slideshow.
- Start with a number: Your list should be between five and 10 points, informative, but not too long. Begin your headline with the number so it stands out from all the other posts.
Listicles don’t have to be dry. While they are intended to contain the facts of the message, the success of your blog ultimately comes down to content. Keep your blog fresh and appeal to new readers by transforming your next blog post into a listicle.
Blog post by Stephanie Gates, DMI Agency Intern, Summer 2015