5 Reasons We Love Lists

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These are actual headlines you can find on BuzzFeed right now! Yep, that’s a whole lotta belly button lint!

You may read these titles and think they’re silly and probably a waste of time. But, something in your brain makes you want to click! Why?!

A couple of months ago, I attended a radio / digital media summit at Canadian Music Week and was fortunate to hear panelist Keith Hernandez, VP International Sales at BuzzFeed USA. I was absolutely captivated by his every word! Being someone who has worked for The Onion, Microsoft, VEVO and other notable companies, you can bet his experience is worth learning from.

BuzzFeed

How does this relate to lists? Well, because BuzzFeed is a hugely successful social media monster that publishes close to 400 posts a day, primarily in list or quiz format. So, without further ado…

5 Reasons We Love Lists

  1. They’re Easy to Read
    You can skim an entire article (or “listicle”) and get the key points without actually reading every sentence. You can also pick and choose which of the “points” you want to read entirely and unlike an article written in paragraph form, if you skip a point – you won’t miss critical information.
  2. They’re Easy to Write
    While some would argue lists are the lazy way out and aren’t “real journalism”, this short concise format allows the author to bring readers immediately to the message they wish to convey (just get to the good stuff already!). Why spend hours writing an article when you can get your point across in a list of “10 Things You Should Know”?!
  3. They’re Sharable on Social
    In today’s world of limited characters and limited attention spans, it’s easy to share a list. The content is easily consumed and therefore, more enjoyable to a reader and their followers.
  4. Lists Are Popular Everywhere, Not Just Online
    Grocery lists, To Do lists, Guest lists… our brains are comfortable grouping things together and we do so in list form. So, naturally, when a company like BuzzFeed pumps out hundreds of lists online, we’re inclined to read them. Note: BuzzFeed actually posts really useful lists too, ie: 7 Quick Dinners To Make This Week. They’re not all about robots!
  5. Lists Don’t Lie
    “5 Things You Need to Know” means 5 things, not 7 or 10. The reader knows what they’re getting in to when they open the article. It is a proven fact that numbers and specifics in headlines will provide better results than something generic like “Best Ways to Make a Sandwich”. Why? Being specific and exact implies expertise.

Have you read or shared any lists lately? Please share below! The more ridiculous, the better! 😉

Sources:
Heinz Marketing – “10 Reasons Why Top 10 Lists Make Great Content” (2012)
Business Insider – “10 Reasons We Love Lists” (2013)
Wikipedia – “BuzzFeed” (2014)