Ever notice how popular “list” journalism has become online? “Ten Cities Doomed to Failure.” “8 Reasons Why You Won’t Get a New Job with Old Interview Skills.” “The Top Places to Live and Work for Twenty-Somethings.” I’m not sure if this type of article is just really easy to write for the journalists who are producing them, or if there’s some kind of a demographic strategy at work here in terms of appealing to certain kinds of attention spans online. I will say that it gets old fast and it’s kind of obnoxious to read all those lists – a truncated series of contiguous ideas does not seem to really hold up well as a unified story or article. Perhaps that style of writing appeals to the attention-deficit disordered thinking in many of us that is a by-product of the Internet Age?
Having just said that, I recently came across an article with a list format that I did find interesting, and perhaps because it was all about content the author – Sonia Simone – was thusly able to do a better job of writing it coherently.
The article was from Copyblogger – notorious listers themselves – and it concerned numerous content marketing goals and how Content needs to serve these goals if online marketers truly wish to see success from their content. Some of the goals included building trust with your audience; exploring prospect pain; citing and illustrating product benefits; and building reputation with the search engines.
This makes sense to me – using content for specific goals – and everyone involved in creating content for the Web had better be thinking of WHO they are trying to reach, WHAT they are trying to say, and HOW do they hope readers will respond to the content they are encountering. Otherwise, what’s the use of writing for business websites – just to fill-up the pages?
Perhaps successful list-based journalism will continue unabated on the Internet at least – there’s plenty of space for long articles since we can make all the space we need with website pages. I just hope the lists have good purpose behind them and arrive at some potent conclusions from time to time. Sonia Simone’s article – the one I mentioned earlier – can be accessed here for those of you who wish to learn more.
You can also reach out to Fathom if you’d like to talk about content strategies. We have a dedicated cadre of writers who delight in maiking your website and online marketing strategy smarter and more effective through the use of strong, competent content written professionally and aimed at your target audience.