You’ve seen them on magazine covers (The 65 Biggest Celebrity Hair Transformations).
You’ve noticed them when decorating your apartment or fixing up your house. (10 Bright Ideas for Decorating With Floor and Table Lamps).
And you’ve laughed at them on late night TV. (David Letterman’s Top 10 Offensive Jeopardy categories).
- Lists attract attention. They promise a payoff for the reader. According to Muhammed Saleem at Copyblogger, list articles make it clear “what the reader is in for, and the structure itself reinforces the perceived value of the return on attention invested.”
- They put a new spin on a familiar topic. Lists let you take a new approach to a topic you’ve written about a dozen times: short-term disability or performance management or an IT process
- Lists offer a simple way to organize complex content. A list doesn’t have to be hierarchical or alphabetical or categorized. Just number 1 to 5 (or 7 or 10 . . . etc.).
- Google (and other search engines) love lists. For the past few months, I’ve been writing a column for Inc. and learning a lot about how online magazines attract visitors. One way: list articles, which get better results than other types of content. Why? Ask the geniuses in Mountain View, CA. Or just try it. (It works.)
- Employees find them easy to digest. List articles aren’t overwhelming like a buffet; they’re snackable like canapés or tapas.
- You can insert a little humor, even if your organization is not very funny. Lists lend themselves to being whimsical and light-hearted.
- List articles are sticky. If your list piece is clever and helpful, employees will mention them to their colleagues. They’ll tweet them. And, most important of all, they’ll read them.
And isn’t that what it’s all about?