People love lists. Lists are orderly, they are clean, they put things in a clear perspective that is easily understood. People are used to lists; to seeing their names in them, finding services, or looking for jobs. Now in the online writing and blogging space, Top # posts are becoming common. It is fitting then, [...]
People love lists. Lists are orderly, they are clean, they put things in a clear perspective that is easily understood. People are used to lists; to seeing their names in them, finding services, or looking for jobs. Now in the online writing and blogging space, Top # posts are becoming common. It is fitting then, that one should find a Top # list to explain why it’s happening, for better or for worse.
1. You know what you are going to get
With so many different forms of internet expression out there, it can be hard when looking for information to locate anything similar to what you are looking for. Often posts are just discussion boards or a semi-formed thought that only reflects one corner of thought. Seeing the title of the page reading something like “The Top 10 Reasons Mobile Advertising is Exploding” you can picture the article in your mind and if that is what is interesting you are likely to look at it. Also, if it is an extensive list, and ordered in some way so that 1 is the best that there is, it can attract interest in someone who cant name that many things, yet is still considered a fan of the subject.
2. They are easy to remember
Well, at least a couple of the points end up being remembered, for someone to remember every point would be a rarity. However they provide short explanations that are easily understood, if that does usually mean a sacrifice in the quality of the formation of a thought. The truth behind the Top # posts is that normally those responsible for them start off with a few points and then have to stretch to find #8,9, and 10 for example. This is not a true Top # list, but is actually misleading because it implies that whatever is being listed was cut down from a greater pool.
3. They are mobile friendly
Longer articles are not the best form of reading for people on phones, who would prefer to sit down, perhaps with a tablet or laptop, and digest a longer idea there. But for a quick read in a mobile-screen friendly format, a Top # list really excels. Easy, direct, and read in a few flicks, a Top # list is a great way for people to learn a bit about a subject while they are on the go.
4. They work great with multimedia
The best Top # lists, especially in travel or technology, are in a sense also a photo or video gallery, giving the reader the full experience. It is extremely pleasant to click through a Top 20 Beaches in Asia list, for example, and the content is instantly gratifying. For more technical Top Techniques lists this would be less of the point, but should still be considered.
5. They are easy to create
If the disdain has not been immediately apparent from the tone of this piece already, Top # lists take minutes to make and require very little thought. They are appealing for their organizational structure and are becoming very popular, but this comes at the expense of thorough thought explanation that cannot be confined to a numbered list. Anyone can put one together and send it around, or post it as a comment. People love to order things, and the only difference that really matters is which is number 1. Putting such a blatant statement as The Top Whatever out there without much explanation provokes reaction, and in the online space, that attention translates directly to traffic. Once things start to get moving on social media a solid presence can be created. But this is the easy route, a cop-out that disregards the importance of formulating a communication that effectively defends a position or provides needed and useful information. This is possible to achieve in a well thought-out or democratically-sourced statistic or list, of course, but as more and more people digest more and more media online, the true quality of content will shine though, and people will choose the most in-depth, not the most superficial.
Tony Hymes is the Editor of the Digital Out Of Home industry website DOOH.com. He produces introductory videos of the companies working across the space from digital signage hardware providers to content companies, DOOH networks, consultants, and software groups. Tony Hymes writes extensively about the strategies behind DOOH advertising, digital signage networks and deployments, and customer engagement trends.