Or, as I originally titled it: Three Ways To Write A Listicle That Doesn’t Sound Vapid And Irrelevant
There’s a lot to be said for listicles, that handy list-based content format popularized by Buzzfeed and now imitated by every major and minor player around the globe. In the public domain, the listicle is associated with funny and sometimes vapid information transmission — collections of cats sneezing or weird-looking fruits. That association makes it difficult for serious or informative posts to use this incredibly effective format without a side of snide remarks.
Despite our eye-rolling attitude toward listicles, the effect they can have is undeniable. People prefer “creative” approaches to everything from headlines in serious newspapers to useless gibberish, and the list format gives you an opportunity to instantly communicate your most important points to online skimmers — the vast majority of readers out there. Simply put, listicles break down information in a way that most people want to take in.
That doesn’t mean that “Five Money-Saving Tips On Your 2016 Taxes” has to read and sound like “15 Photos of Dogs in Gift Boxes,” although we admit that we’d really like to see that list. Delivering your message in small, digestible bites is perfectly fine for any field of work or audience level. The question is how to maintain a level of professionalism while doing so.
While you’re not competing with this type of content, you’re competing against other businesses that offer similar services to yours. You have no need to go up against the dogs in gift boxes — a lesson that tends to get lost when people think about making a listicle-style blog post — but you do need to offer something that your direct competitor isn’t offering. A blog strategy gives you an opportunity to do just that. By structuring your blog entries in a memorable format, your message — and your differentiating features — have a better chance of getting across to the potential clients you wish to reach.
So, how can you work within this important format without losing your message? How do you maintain your professional image while offering content your clients want to read?
- Don’t try to be cute if the situation doesn’t call for it. A talented writer strikes the balance you need between informative and entertaining. Being too cute runs the risk of dampening the severity of a topic, and being too straitlaced runs the risk of nobody clicking on and sharing your content. If the situation does call for it, however, go for it — but only if it makes sense with your business and marketing goals. Animal adoption agencies should totally share listicles of dogs in gift boxes. CPAs shouldn’t.
- Avoid pandering. Just because people want it doesn’t mean that you need to provide it. A forced listicle isn’t obvious, and it certainly isn’t fun to read. Your content should flow naturally in a listicle format, and if it won’t, you risk diluting your message — defeating the purpose of a blog post in the first place!
- Dramatics may not be your friend. What you’re writing about is just as important as how you frame it. Readers will notice if you over-inflate a topic or sing too many praises too loudly about a specific subject. Stick with an honest telling of your story, and don’t rely on dramatics as a way to keep it interesting.
The listicle still hauls some impressive weight on the web. By presenting important content in easily-digestible bites, you capture your audience’s attention and get your main points across effectively and easily. If you’re still feeling some writer’s block, send us a message on Facebook or Twitter, or go ahead and give us a call.