Whether it’s a blog posting or a webinar, list-based content draws well. In fact, there’s a chance you clicked through to this posting because of the “6 Reasons” in the title (admit it). What makes list-based content so popular? Let’s count the ways.
1) They’re tangible.
Before you even click through to read a list-based piece of content, you already know that you can put your arms around it. By its very nature, a list makes a piece of content self-contained. It tells you up front what you’re getting: 5 of this or 15 of that.
2) Gives you a sense of pace.
Very rarely do I see a list-based piece of content in which each piece is overly long. You expect a rather brisk pace, as the author moves from one list element to another. Sort of like what I’m doing here!
3) Gives you a sense of progression.
Related to pace, list-based content ensures that you know precisely where you are. Let’s take a webinar. If the webinar has “5 Tips” in the title and the presenter is on tip number 3, then you know that you’re roughly 60% through her presentation.
4) Gives you a fixed beginning and ending.
Sometimes, you never know how long a piece of content will go on. List-based content tells you the ending point before you start. Even with a long list (e.g. “100 Reasons I Love New York”), you know when the piece ends.
And, if there’s a lot of content to consume, you know to pace yourself accordingly. With the “100 Reasons,” I’m apt to skim the list much quicker than “5 Reasons.”
5) Gives you the opportunity to pick and choose.
Consider a very long article. The further I progress, the greater the challenge for the article to “hold” me and keep me interested. If I know an article is 10 pages long and I’m not engaged by page 2, you’ve likely lost me.
Here’s where the “chunking” of list-based articles has an advantage. The first 10 of your Top 100 list may have lost my interest, but I can continue scanning through the list to pick out (and read) items of interest. I’m much more likely to make it to item 100.
6) Gives you convenient reference points.
In this era of social sharing, list-based content provides convenient reference points when sharing a post. For instance, if you like this particular point, you may be inclined to tweet this post and say, “I like number 6.” (feel free to tweet that now).
As a final point, my unscientific analysis tells me that list-based content tends to be shorter. So I’ve kept each point succinct, which makes this post short and sweet.