Marketing December 3, 2015 Last updated September 19th, 2018 10,201 Reads share

12 Things You Need to Know About Listicles

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A listicle is an article composed of lists – like this one (listiclception?).

In case you were wondering, list + article = listicle.

Your listicle doesn’t have to just be text one-liners either– it could be “10 Photos of Cats Jumping Out of Boxes”, “23 Listicles With Odd List Numbers”, or “15 GIFs That Like, Totes Describe You and Your Roomie and Represent You On A Spiritual Level”. All that really matters is that it’s a list comparing different points around a central subject.

Here’s some suggestions for making your listicles really count (pun intended).

#1. Listicles are the easiest path to creating content for beginning content marketers — so listen up, newbies.

Even if you don’t think you know anything about anything important, don’t sweat– just choose a topic and ask 3-4 other people to contribute a point each. We decided to take our own advice and asked our friends Sarah Sal (#8), Jan Koch (#9) , Jason How (#10), and Jenny Brennan (#11) to contribute to this list. Look how great friendship is.

#2. The stronger the base of guest quotes, the more traction your article gets.

It’s all about expanding your reach and maximizing the number of channels on which your article is present.

Think about it — if you get four, well-know people with a solid following to comment on your article like we did, you boost your potential audience exponentially. This only works if you remember to reach out and have them share your article, though.

So send them an email, shoot them a text, ride your bike over to their house, ship them a care package of gummy bears, whatever. Just make sure they spread your message out to their followers.

#3. You could write a “top 10” list for anything all by yourself, but you’re not David Letterman (sorry to kill that dream).

As a “journalist”, you are positioning yourself as an objective reference who cites other authorities. Even if you think you know a lot about the migratory patters of Bioluminescent Octopods, until you make a name for yourself in that field, it’s probably best to defer to a marine biologist nine times out of ten.

#4. Focus on sharing interesting, non-obvious tidbits of information instead of self-promotion.

You might have a friend who has a social media management tool, but resist the urge. Seriously, nobody wants to hear about why you’re so great; they want you to show them. Establish yourself as an authority and that’s all the promotion you’ll have to do. If you build it, they will come.

#5. The more items in your listicle, the better– people are way more likely to share longer lists.

Long lists at least make it seem like you have a lot to say, which (generally) equates to a greater perceived knowledge. There’s just something about lists that gets us humans going. For example, if you make a list of super cool people, like “The Top 100 Coolest People of All Time Ever” (I would read this listicle in a heartbeat), you set a repeating standard for others to follow.

#6. Don’t forget to promote your masterpiece– most people stop when the article is released.

Get another cup of coffee — you’re only 1/3rd of the way through the process. Brush off those chip crumbs; pull yourself together, and  listen up. you may have written a listicle that deserves a spot on “The Top 10 Listicles” listicle, but if you don’t promote it, no one is going to see it. Set up some Facebook ads, make a video about it, respond to comments, do what you gotta do to get your article out there.

#7. Be funny– I think of donuts, clowns, and T-Rex’s trying to play ping pong.

Humor is the great captivator — throw it into your listicle and people are instantly more likely to want to share it with their friends. Just take a deep breath, go to your happy place, and remember to be light, bright, and polite.


Sarah Sal – Sarah Sal Marketing

#8. Don’t state the obvious, you want the the reader to think when reading each point: “Ohh I did not know that, I want to learn more.” 

The problem with a lot of listicles, and content in general, is that people don’t learn anything new. If you don’t challenge the way people think, change their perception, or teach them something they didn’t know before, all they’re gonna do is feel like they either wasted their time or know way more about the Moon than they thought they did.


Jan Koch –

#9. Do your research on the contributors to your listicle and include useful background information on them inside your article.

To make popular article authors to notice you, you need to go above and beyond. Link to their Twitter profile so people can easily connect to them. Link to other resources they created if it makes sense. The higher quality info you can share about each particular creator, the better off you are to starting a relationship with them. The hope is that one day they’ll ask you to contribute to their listicle and the cycle continues.

Jason How -

Jason How –

#10. Make your listicle stand out – be STRICT with what you put out there.

If a guest contribution doesn’t cut it, cut it out. Setup a few guidelines before you start gathering points for it. If you want the tips to be actionable, you can design a simple actionability test to ensure that all points meet the criteria.


Jenny Brennan –

#11. Just because people love lists doesn’t mean that they’ll eat up everything you put numbers in front of.

You have to make sure that your listicle is packed full of valuable and actionable content. Couple that with a strong headline, a punchy start, and a strong conclusion and you have yourself a recipe for a solid, sharable listicle.

#12. Always have a catchy, engaging title. Here’s a few examples courtesy of Larry Kim:

  • A Cheat Sheet for…
  • How to … Like a Boss
  • 100 Useful …
  • … Facts and Myths
  • The Real Truth About …
  • # ways to …
  • A cheat sheet for …
  • How to … in # easy steps
  • Little known ways to …

What’s your suggestion for making an awesome listicle?

Images “Hand writing Content List with red marker/


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Dennis Yu

Dennis Yu

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