The “listicle,” a slang term for content presented as a series of bullet points, steps, tips, facts, quotes, or pictures, is nothing new. Newspapers and magazines have been publishing Top 10 articles and similar fodder for ages. However, lately listmania seems to have overtaken digital media, too.
A list tells people exactly what to expect if they spend a few minutes reading the article. If you see the headline “10 Sins of Business Writing,” you know that you’ll learn at least 10 things to avoid in your professional correspondence. For some people, knowing that up front is much more appealing than the promise of something more abstract, such as “Become a Better Business Writer,” which could prove to be a waste of time.
In addition, listicles are perfectly suited to customers who primarily receive marketing messages via social media or mobile devices. Providing short, quick, and direct messages is the best way to reach the masses.
The listicle, in all its simplicity, offers readers an easy way to categorize and process information. It’s easy to scan and digest, so it has the power to reach anyone — even the busiest, most time-strapped, attention-deficient people.
Love ’em or hate ’em (and plenty of people do), lists do provide small-business owners with an easy way to connect with customers, so it’s a great idea to work them into your content marketing strategy.
Here are three tips for effectively using listicles:
- Connect your list to your brand. Sure, “The 40 Most Awkward Dogs of 2013” may draw a lot of clicks (nearly 2 million at press time), but unless you’re in the pet industry, it probably won’t help to promote your brand. Content should always tie in with your business, your products, or your services in some way. Although you may not attract millions of visitors or receive thousands of shares, you will engage the readers who are most likely to buy from you.
- Provide valuable content. Your content has to benefit readers in some way. Provide actionable advice or tidbits of information that teach your readers something. For example, our recent “7 Tax Breaks for Small Business to Consider for 2013” provides relevant information that entrepreneurs need now. The occasional “Just for Fun” listicle of jokes, quotes, or funny images is fine, as long as it relates to your business or industry.
- Don’t rely solely on lists. Some of your customers will want to read listicles; others won’t. Provide more in-depth opinion pieces and reports with multimedia components (such as video, slide presentations, and infographics), too. That kind of variety will ensure that you provide all of your customers something that they can relate to.