In our scattered lives, there’s nothing more helpful than a good to-do list, so perhaps it’s no surprise that, in the world of marketing, there is nothing more popular than a good listicle.
It’s pretty much what it sounds like: A listicle is a written article anchored by a bullet list of things that provide information about something – anything really … from, say, the 10 top-grossing movies of the year to 20 ways to cook an egg to 50 reasons to have a dog.
In the world of marketing and public relations, listicles are ubiquitous – for a reason. They are an outstanding way to neatly and quickly quantify the value of products and services. And so, taking our own advice, we present here five facts about the listicle:
- Nothing new: Listicles may have earned their trendy portmanteau name in this century, but they are far from new. An article published in bustle.com dates the listicle back to the early 11th century and notes that the first known listicle was published about the same time as the first novel.
- The bad rap: Some deride listicles as lazy ways of dumbing down a topic. But study after study has shown that, in this age of the tweet, consumers have little patience for long explanations. If there are more words in an article than they can read in a couple of minutes, they are likely to bail on it. When the goal is to impart information, it is clearly better to get some basic information across than to get nothing across at all.
- The attraction: The best listicle appeals to our human nature, offering something that’s tasty, served up in a fun size and easy to digest. The listicle feeds our brains these nuggets of information that quickly inform and organize our thoughts.
- Way to market: We often advise clients to let us put their informational releases into listicle form, because we know it’ll increase the readership. As we explain to them, listicles provide a wonderful opportunity to share basic facts with the broad public – and, for the more curious among them, always with a chance to learn more here.
- All about the hyperlink: What do all five of these facts have in common? The greatest beauty of the digital listicle is the hyperlink, making each fact expandable. Sure, many or most readers will read only the basic text. But for those more curious types, the best listicles also offer a wealth of source information.