Friday, November 22, 2019

How Long Should The Perfect List Post Be

How Long Should The Perfect List Post Be List posts, the stuff of magic. The staple food of Buzzfeed and social media and content marketing everywhere. Maybe Martin Luther started a trend when he nailed a list to that door. Readers  love lists. Content marketers love lists. But a Buzzfeed list is one thing, with its catchy photos, quick blurbs, and fast takeaways for the reader. How  about a long-form blog post, on a topic that isnt so fun and full of baby animal photos? Do list posts still perform even if youre not  selling Buzzfeeds brand of emotional adrenaline? 3  Unbelievable Reasons List Posts  Create Traffic Why are list posts so popular? Why is your social media feed either filled with Upworthy-type headlines or numbered lists? 1. List posts stir up curiosity. 50 Laws That Are Ruining Your Life,  5  Signs Youre About To Be Rich, 7 Ways To Lose Weight In Just One Week – I wrote these fake headlines and Im dying to know the answers myself! List post headlines tend to promise big with just a hint of the vague to make you wonder how such a promise could ever be fulfilled. A 2009 study by the University of Athens discovered that readers preferred a slightly ambiguous headline. In talking about the power of lists and this study, The New Yorker writer Maria Konnikova wrote  that people preferred headlines that were both creative and uninformative, like â€Å"THE SMELL OF CORRUPTION, THE SCENT OF TRUTH† or â€Å"FACE TO FAITH.† These were headlines that didnt give away the farm. You had to read the article to make complete sense of them. List posts answer the questions we have and the questions we didnt know we had. They do this with headlines that have just enough ambiguity to pull us in. 2. List posts are finite. As a reader trying to quickly consume content during the day,  a list post looks easy to scan or read. I can zip through the listed items, which are like mini packaged blog posts all on their own. I dont have to commit to the full post if I dont want to. I can just read the listed item (or even their headings) and be fine. The great Umberto Eco even wrote a book about how lists help us comprehend (and manage) the infinite. Lists are a powerful tool. They help us know there is an ending. They help us  remember it easier. We all like simplification. We like to know there is a beginning and an end. The finite is comforting. List posts simplify complex subjects. Readers like that.3. Lists bring order to chaos. There is a lot of information available. It is chaos, if you ever bothered to step back and consider it all. We have too many options, too many choices, and its harder to make a decision. This excessive choice sometimes leaves us unable to process any of it, a frustrated state of being called analysis paralysis. We want to have to think less, when faced with all of this choice, and list posts stand out. They are ordered, and orderly.  According to David Wallechinsky, co-author of the Book of Lists, lists help us in organizing what is otherwise overwhelming. 5  Expert  Secrets That Guarantee  List Post Success How long should your list post be? How can you make your list post as viral as possible? How do you get your list post read? 1.  The magic number for lists posts seems to be 25. According to the (fascinating) research on the RJMetrics blog, a list post of 25 is the number that gets the most hits on Buzzfeed. RJMetrics ran several tests to determine which posts were top in search results and which ones were shared the most. After the averages were taken, the winner was 25 (or thereabouts). 2. Odd or rounded numbers are best. In the same research, RJMetrics learned that numbered lists that ended with a 5 or a 0 received better traffic  (Oops.) This preference for 5 and 0 is backed up by a study done by Robert M. Schindler of Rutgers University. Schindler discovered that we prefer and understand those round numbers most of all. But wait. After studying 300 articles, online instruction specialist  Abreena Tompkins discovered that students learn better when things are grouped in odd numbers. She described how the brain best remembers no more than nine items in a group, with three or five being an optimal amount. According to Tompkins,  odd numbers work better than even numbers. If you’re going to give students a list of six things to do, make it one, two, three, whitespace, four, five, six. The brain responds to whitespace because the brain processes things in groups. Perhaps the takeaway here is that our brain likes simple groupings, and that for small lists, odd numbers are best. Once your list heads past nine, you should start aiming for the round numbers ending in 5 and 0. The best list post has an odd or rounded number in the title.3.  Successful headlines have  emotional words  in them. Merely assembling a list of items isnt going to get it read. You will always  need a compelling headline to sell it. There is still no getting away from the need to use emotional words in your headlines. You still must work on finding the best possible headline, even if you are writing a headline with a list number in it.  So is there a list post blog headline formula that works? Blogger Steve Davis came up with one: (odd number) (adjective) (mistakes/tips/insights/shortcuts) for (achieving/avoiding) (desired outcome/disaster) And then Davis wisely recommends you be cautious in using a formula because formulas are not where greatness comes from.  Good headlines are still good headlines, whether youre using the magic of the list post or not. 4. Use the actual number, not the word. I struggled, when I first started blogging, to abandon the AP Style Guide and use a numeral instead of the word in a headline. It still bothers me quite a bit, but thats the way online content handles numbered headlines now. Why do we write 10 Reasons instead of Ten Reasons? Lazy brains and character counts, thats why. We see and comprehend 10 better than ten. We can save a character or two when we use the number 3 instead of writing three. 5. List item content is inversely related to the number. Hubspot makes a great point  by stating that the best list posts have the right balance between list length and list item explanation. In other words, the longer your list is, the shorter the content under each item should be. A list post of five can get away with several paragraphs, but could you imagine a list post of 100 doing the same? Youd never finish!

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