The popularity of listicles

How often have you come across content screaming at you from your social media platform, offering up “10 places you have to see before you turn thirty” or “10 reasons why Leonardo di Caprio must win an Oscar”? The range of these new age content gimmicks is as varied as “12 uses for chalk that you never knew about” and “20 different cheeses you should try in your lifetime.” (See what we did there?)

Meet the Listicle.

An article that’s presented in the list format, the listicle has come to remain one of the more enduring trends in both, journalism and content driven marketing. With the rising level of noise on social media – what with brands and individuals competing to be seen, jostling for the limited timeframe of staying visible and relevant – there is an immense need to drive content right home for the recipient of information. Oftentimes, our commutes or waiting times are all the time we get to catch up with the goings-on in the world. In this little span of time, the onus falls squarely on us to figure out a way to find all the information we need.

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Listicles can be useful in that you can recycle information and re-present it by re-purposing its original structure. For instance, imagine having written an article relating to the burgeoning trends in the insurance industry. Let’s say you’ve made eight solid points about things to watch out for, and the article was well received in, say, February 2015. You realise that your readership didn’t transcend the weekend interest-driven reader, and you really believe that the youth will benefit from this. So you re-purpose the content, and pull out those eight trends into a “title-two lines-image” format of presenting the piece, and you hit publish. No prizes for guessing what happens next!

The advantage

With plenty of information going up on nearly every discernible space, content providers are in as much of a dilemma to be able to be heard above the chaotic noise. To this end, listicles have proven to be an interesting way to present information. Think of bite sized, clear information with the benefit of useful and intriguing imagery to boot, and think of walking away more aware, and entertained, in the process.
Today, a plethora of sites run on the core premise of being a listicle delivering agency – be it BuzzFeed or ScoopWhoop, or Distractify and even Viral Nova. Listicles are formulaic in their approach: pick an interesting tagline, pull up content in the form of one-liner headings and two-liner introductions, add a relevant image / video / gif, and you’re done!

But on the flip side…
Listicles may be a quick way to present information, but it also comes with the added burden of being too coquettish or light-hearted a mode of presentation. It might render the very purpose of your communication redundant – and might take away the attention from the star of your inbound marketing initiative, while distracting through pictures, gifs or videos. There is also the fact that listicles are often dismissed by the recipient of information as being frivolous attempts to “click bait”, or to capture attention through catchy taglines – while the content within may not be as worthy of the attention it garners.


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