List posts are everywhere.
7 ways Google+ can help me rank better or will be a critical part off social business or will triumph over twitter and Facebook.
Or perhaps you may have seen the 10 best of the 10 best devices from this years CES. Again and again and again.
Perhaps you missed the 9 different reasons you should be mating with a goat at the full moon to improve your Google ranking. If you didn’t let me know how it went, I am genuinely interested.
List posts bore me beyond belief. They are a lazy way of getting attention and quite often fail to deliver on the promise of being informed fast. Originally list posts became popular because they were an easy of summarising a blog post in a nifty tweet, stuffing keywords into a title, and they appealed to the digital worker with a short attention span.
Enough is enough. The list post is ubiquitous and over-done. There is very little to separate a list post with a wonderfully spammy squeeze page with endless testimonials and money back guarantees. It may work for a certain market but the list post is as cheap as a discount toupee and polyester suit.
So here’s why list posts are boring.
1. They gloss over the interesting bits
Faced with a digital native with a poor concentration the blogger is forced to compress all her points into a nice number like 5, 7, 9, or 10. Any more than that and the blogger and reader will have an uneasy experience given the increased in depth analysis and thinking each may have to do. The problem is that the brief content often makes for a brief analysis and thin coverage of a subject.
Surprisingly, some list posts have no useful information at all. They are a thin collection of tips scrapped from other blogs and presented with a fresh interesting title. 9 ways to get the 9am meeting started on time anyone?
2. Original content is always best
Peruse the Internet for a time and you quickly realise that there are 7 reasons why you should be limiting your children’s time on the Internet and that there are 6 killer ways to create a good headline after you work out the 6 reasons you must buy the latest device from Apple.
And that might be about it.
The list post is ubiquitous around events like CES, any launch by Apple, Google, Twitter, or Facebook, and in the content industry. The pressure on blogs to create at least 5 posts a day and maximise page impressions to keep advertisers happy gives rise to plagiarised and unoriginal content. The logic is, we need a post about X, let’s make it a snappy list post, I think Y had a post about this earlier today, Terry why don’t you take a look at that.
It is the tech community echo chamber, with everyone screaming at each other “10 reasons why you need to write a list post to get traffic on that Apple product which will change your life”.
If everyone is writing about the same thing with the same commercial outcome in mind, beige mundanity will result.
3. I am a big boy and you ain’t gonna make me
Like the great advertising copywriters before them, a lot of bloggers have worked out that headlines with a direct command are very effective. When told that there are 10 things that I must consider before using an ATM it is only human that part of me must read that post because what if I am missing it on something. The human brain is wired to be respond to danger which includes feelings of threat driven by inadequacy. A headline telling you you MUST DO OR KNOW SOMETHING compels a response and an all important click.
I know I am better than that so no fancy list post headline is gonna make me feel bad.
4. Large numbers are cool
Apart from the random 65 ways to attract traffic to your blog or 99 reasons I want to marry Google+ material most list posts offer under 10 reasons which says to me they lack imagination.
Large numbers are cool people. Stop thinking small, stand out by writing a list post with 1,099 items.
5. Isn’t it just link bait?
Well yes it is. If you want that confirmed, search for 7 reasons why using your favourite search engine and then tell me the list post offers a unique opportunity to be beguiled by delicious knowledge.
Don’t do it
Have you asked yourself why I am writing a list post about list posts? It’s a good question and I encourage you to be stronger than I am. In pondering the list post I have been seduced by the easy reduction of meaning to a profane shopping list of beige mundanity.