Lists can help increase readership.
This effective technique is now overused to scam a reader into reading.
If there’s one thing the Internet has brought to business, it’s new ways to play the numbers game. Some examples:
- Number of hits
- Number of followers
- Number of people followed
- Number of Tweets
- Number of blog comments
- Number of names on your house e-mail list
- Number of LInkedIn contacts
There appear to be no end to the call for numbers, even as most CEOs admit that they’re not sure what all the numbers mean. This is particularly true for blogs, which are known to have many more readers than people who comment, and yet business bloggers continue to worry about their lack of comments.
I’ve come to the point of recommending that my blog-considering clients create blogs that don’t solicit comments. This is against the “interactive conversation” basis of most social media, but blogs can be different from Twitter and Facebook. It all goes back to the plan (which most don’t have) that describes why a blog is being considered at all for a specific business.
For many of my clients, they are using the blog as a thought-leadership platform, and comments are not always appropriate. But, in addition, not accepting comments keeps the CEO focused on his or her real reasons for starting the blog rather than counting comments.
Listing Too Far
One new way digital writers are playing the marketing game is reducing all good advice to numbers, as in:
- 5 Ways to Tweet
- 7 Ways Not to Tweet
- 3 Ideas for LinkedIn Success
- 10 Great Links for Better Websites
It’s an old magazine trick from the covers of Cosmo and others, as in:
- 10 Ways to Attract a Guy
- 5 Ways to Dress Skinny
Data both from single-copy magazine sales and click-throughs to sites seem to suggest that by creating a numbered list, interest in a written piece also increases. I believe the data, have tried the technique, but am truly tired of lists upon lists. There’s one very good blogger whom I’ve stopped following as every single post is a list.
Maybe it’s me, but I’m tired of every concept being reduced to a short list. I’d like some long thinking, and I’ve noticed blog posts, which used to be 1-3 paragraphs long, are becoming 1-3 pages long. Could it be that others, as well, are looking for more thought-provoking, in-depth material?
Go for Quality
Marketing, as a practice, requires a serious look at ROI. But to the chagrin of many CFOs and CEOs, great marketing sometimes defies measurement, at least in the short-term. Using numbers indiscriminately is a dangerous quantity over quality game.
Keep in mind that social media, blogs included, are about building relationships – quality relationships. Playing the numbers game is akin to being a spammer. After all, that’s what spam is – messages sent to quantities of people who could care less about you. The goal of a blog is to make people truly care to follow – not you as much as your thinking and/or progress over time.
Using a list when warranted is a good writing technique. Using lists exclusively for each post is simply lazy writing. It makes the blogger into a “scammer” if not a “spammer.”