In journalism and blogging, a listicle is a short-form of writing that uses a list as its thematic structure, but is fleshed out with sufficient copy to be published as an article. A typical listicle will prominently feature a cardinal number in its title, with subsequent subheadings within the text itself reflecting this schema. The word is a portmanteau derived from list and article. It has also been suggested that the word evokes 'popsicle', emphasising the fun but 'not too nutritious' nature of the listicle.
A ranked listicle (such as Rolling Stone's 'The 100 Best Albums of the Last Twenty Years') implies a qualitative judgement, conveyed by the order of the topics within the text. These are often presented in countdown order, and the 'Number One' item is the last in the sequence. Other listicles impart no such values, instead presenting the topics in no particular order, although they may be grouped by theme.
15 Things Teachers Are So Tired of Hearing Right Now. Teaching, like all professions, has buzzwords and phrases that just don’t seem to. Listicles and Infographics are built on grabbing the best visual format and pictures available. Think of what strikes you more when you scroll across a page. Is it the headline, the picture, or the tiny font below that actually encompasses the content of the article? You mainly look at the headline and the picture above.
While conventional reportage and essay-writing often require the careful crafting of narrative flow, the building-block nature of the listicle lends itself to more rapid production. It can also be a means of 'recycling' information, as often it is the context, not the content, that is original. For example, one can construct a listicle by adding captions to YouTube clips. For these reasons, the form has come under criticism as a 'kind of cheap content-creation'.
It's so easy you wonder why everyone doesn't do it until you realize that now it's all they do: Come up with an idea ('Top 10 Worst [X]') on the L train ride to the office that morning, [and] slap together 10 (or 25, or 100) cultural artifacts ripe for the kind of snarky working over that won't actually tax you at all as a writer/thinker.
The blogger and technologist Anil Dash has disparaged the proliferation of listicles, particularly within the blogosphere, characterizing them in 2006 as the 'geek equivalents of Cosmo coverlines'.
Nevertheless, the form remains a mainstay of the newsstand and of the web. The covers of magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Men's Journal regularly sport at least one, if not several listicles. In 2009 postings in the format '25 Random Things About Me' became an internet phenomenon, starting on Facebook but spreading to the broader web, and attracting considerable media coverage in the process. Some websites, such as BuzzFeed, generate hundreds of listicles daily.
Steven Poole has suggested the form has literary precursors like Jorge Luis Borges's 'The Analytical Language of John Wilkins', and compares it to more high-art versions like Umberto Eco's The Infinity of Lists, a book composed entirely of lists.
Effective content marketing strategy should contain fourtypes of content: attraction, authority, affinity, and action. Over time, thesefour types of content fulfill their individual purposes, providing a brand witha new audience, leads, community, and loyalty.
Listicles are a form of writing in which the content ispresented either wholly or partly in the form of a list. Because of theirpopularity among readers, they are highly sharable and effective at drivingtraffic to a website or landing page. Listicles do no heavy lifting in terms ofdepth of information, which is why they reside in the attraction contentcategory. Once the listicle brings traffic to the website, more substantiveinformation (authority content) about the product, service, or subject on thewebsite, is required to capture and convert visitors.
Listicles help marketers reach new audiences in a sweepingsort of way and are a good choice to use when launching a new website orproduct and your brand needs a heavy dose of incoming attention.
Most people believe listicles to be a fairly recentphenomenon, but they have been around for a long time. Just think of the TenCommandments as the listicle of all listicles. It’s still being shared andfollowed after all this time.
Sei Shonagon, poet and lady-in-waiting to the Empress Teishiin 10th century Japan was an avid listicle writer. She created a book of poetryin list form called The Pillow Book. The Pillow Book is a collection ofobservations on life in the Heian Court. It covers subjects like “Things ThatQuicken the Heart,” “Awkward Things,” and “Things Later Regretted.”
Martin Luther penned a list of propositions for an academic disputation in 1517 entitled “The Ninety-Five Theses” during his tenure as professor of moral theology at the University of Wittenberg, Germany. Nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, it contained the 95 revolutionary opinions that would mark the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.
Listicles carry much controversy. Some love them. Some hatethem. Humorously enough, there are many published listicles on reasons to loveor hate them—“179 Reasons to Hate Listicle Articles” & “Five Reasons WhyMillennials Love Listicles” are examples for each side of the debate.Regardless on which side someone falls, there is intrigue to both titleslisted. First, 179 is a large number and you must wonder how anyone can hatelisticles so much as to arrive at that many reasons. Next, why only fivereasons for millennials? What does that say about millennials?
Whether someone likes or dislikes listicles, there are someundisputable truths about them. They’re formulaic. They’re predictable. Peoplewant answers and listicles provide them. And, they’re so darn clickable!
The list of why listicles don’t work should be quiteinformative to any content creator simply because the points made outline whatto avoid in listicle writing. From a content marketing point of view, thereasons to use well-written listicles in your content marketing plan include:
Choosing a title that is both intriguing and doesn’toversell is critical. University ofAthens researchers studied reader responses to U.S. and U.K.newspapers and surprisingly found that people preferred headlines that wereboth creative and uninformative. They cited successful headlines like “TheSmell of Corruption, The Scent of Truth,” and “Face to Faith” as examples. It’sbest to stay away from unrealistic claims like “Five Secrets to Finding EternalHappiness” and make sure the claims you make in your title are actually metwithin the body of your article.
Most listicles contain no additional content at the tailend. Though most of the value in your listicle will come from the list itself,adding a short conclusion that does more than summarize adds value. Use yourconclusion to suggest a next step, offer a product trial, or a longer piece ofcontent that offers in-depth detail and greater information.
Many listicles, while they may bring a lot of traffic toyour website, may not bring as many qualified leads as you’d like. In the end,the listicle is simply a template. The responsibility for the quality of theinformation you put within the template resides with the writer. If you wantyour listicle to be read, get clicks, and move readers to an action beyond theinitial click, your listicle has to be worthy and not just clickbait. There hasto be enough substance and relevance to your piece. As in any content youcreate and publish, don’t just write about what most people already know.
Buck the opinion of journalists who think listicles are forlazy writers by not being lazy. Use a listicle only when, as a content creator,you determine it’s the right format for the topic at hand. Then make it aformidable, insightful, thought-provoking list. A worthy endeavor for bothwriter and reader.
Listicles are being used by professionals and amateursalike. It’s up to professional content marketers to separate themselves fromthe pack by generating quality work. Never forget that every piece of contentmust have value.
In a New Yorkerarticle, author Maria Konnikova equates the listicle tosipping green juice instead of eating a bundle of kale. If this is the case,make your green juice the best by delivering nutrition and satisfaction.