For some reason, more and more and blog posts have enumerative titles like “The Top 10 Most Popular Social Networks,” and “Top 5 Myths about Facebook.” A Google search revealed over 530,000 blog posts published in 2010 that have “Top 10” in the title. In the spirit of the beloved enumerative blog post, here are five reasons why we love these lists:
1. They’re short
Who has the time to read lengthy blog posts? Enumerative posts are usually short and concise (I have a thing for concision). They have numbered headings, so they’re skim-able. By the way, lack of time to read good stuff is why I love to use Instapaper, a bookmarking tool that let’s you quickly mark web pages to read later. It’s dead simple. Set up a free account, install the bookmarklet, and click it when you’re on a web page that you want to read later. When you have the time, visit Instapaper (on the web, iPad, or mobile device) to get a nice text-only, super-readable version of the article. Here is a New York Times article about it.* But I digress.
I get all excited when someone promises me a list. I can’t wait to see what’s going to be on it. What will they be? What’s number one? Think about David Letterman and his lists. You’re on the edge of your seat waiting for those Top Ten Whatevers to pop onto your screen. Humans are curious. We just have to know.
“Only five? How can you possibly limit a list Top Internet Cat Videos to only five? And why isn’t my cat in any of the videos?!” You get the point. People are opinionated. We love to argue and debate. Any opportunity to do so will be taken.
Just reading the title of an enumerative blog post sets your mind at ease. You know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Conversely, clever blog post titles are great, but they can often backfire because they can be vague. People won’t read something they’re not interested in, and if the title isn’t clear, your readers may ignore your brilliant post. In this age of email newsletters and RSS feeds vying for your attention, if a title doesn’t catch your readers’ interest, they won’t even click on it. There are plenty of other things to read. Enumerative or not, I always try to make my blog post titles (and email subject lines) representative of the content of the post.
5. They’re useful
Most of the time, people who write enumerative posts are pressed for time (e.g., me, right now), but they want to share something. This is good for writers and readers. Bloggers can make a quick list with links to more substantive articles (their own or others’). For readers, lists provide a reference point. They can invest a little time (see # 1, above) to see if they’re interested, and click through the links for more information. Plus, they can bookmark one post and have easy access to the whole list of things discussed in it. Everybody wins.
Thanks, but I don’t blog
You can use the allure of enumerative blog posts even if you’re not a blogger. Use these lists in your internal law firm communications. Maybe you want to encourage lawyers at your firm to contact clients to build relationships. Instead of a dry memo that might be ignored, send an email entitled “Top 5 Reasons to Call Your Client Today.”
There are probably more reasons to love enumerative blog posts, but my title limited me to five and I don’t want to lose credibility by adding more. You, however, should feel free to make a list of your own. Why do you love enumerative blog posts? How else can you apply this to your law firm life? Let us know in the comments.
*Instapaper is not a sponsor. I just like it.
Knowledge Management, Technology & Social Media for Lawyers and Law Firms