Once someone figures out that lots of people click a certain type of headline, content marketers kick up the mass production engine. My current least favorite content format is the list post.
Every day, my Twitter feed is a hideous, never-ending stream of content marketing list post after bloody awful list post. When I query Google for “content marketing tips,” these are the first four search results I see:
- “17 Content Marketing Tips for Any Size Budget”
- “7 Tips We Learned Analyzing 75 Content Examples”
- “9 Actionable Content Marketing Tips From Top Industry Experts”
- “The Only 6 Content Marketing Tips You Need for 2015”
I know the conventional wisdom says list posts get the click, but here’s my question: If a list post is one of 100 million other list posts about the same subject, does the numerical headline really make your content stand out?
Oh, My Post Isn't Just a List Post. It’s the ULTIMATE List Post.
OK, I see what you're saying. You're going to stand out by adding superlatives to your list post headlines. I have news for you: adding the word “ultimate” to your headline doesn’t make it worthy.
Every single content marketing post promises to be the most fantastic, stupendous, rock-‘em-sock-‘em, amaze-balls content marketing post you’ve ever read. In Legos and in content marketing, EVERYTHING is awesome.
We should try to craft headlines that beg to be clicked. Unfortunately, those clicks too often lead to mediocre, vanilla, rehashed content. All those list posts entitled “The Only X Content Marketing Tips You’ll Ever Need” all contain the same advice. They rarely add anything innovative to the marketing conversation.
Give Up List Posts for Lent...or Ramadan...or for the Love of Humanity. Whichever.
Could you, as a content marketer or blogger, take a break from publishing list posts for the next 30 days? Could you force yourself to craft headlines that might actually stand out from the dreck?
Or could you publish a list post containing something truly worthy of sharing? Could you craft a list post containing information that's actually super duper special?
Next rant: headlines beginning with pronouns. You know what I'm talking about: "We Found the Ultimate Content Marketing Secret, and You’re Not Going to Believe It When You See It.”
Except I've probably already seen it 50 bazillion times, which makes it not a secret.