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Top five reasons why people like to share top ten lists

August 9, 2008

The Social Media SudokuImage by Lukadium via Flickr

Take a quick look at Digg. At almost anytime, you will see a list of things on there. The top ten things to see before you die. The top ten airports in the world. (Personal plug for Charlotte Airport: free internet which is a really nice touch).

We did a Top Ten List of the Greatest Sports call of all time for a client to great success. On this blog, the post that got the most traffic by a factor of almost 20 is called “Ten Things to do with a Facebook page“.

Top ten lists work get shared. Here, in my opinion, is why.

5. Headline is simple: There’s a reason that newspapers have people to write the headlines of the articles. When the headline is about a top ten list, it’s a perfectly relevant headline. If people are even remotely interested in the topic, they’ll look.

4. People love lists. We like to classify and organize things. A list simply does that.

3. Lists are easy to skim. They have numbers beside them. They often have bold copy on the front part of the list so people can skim them quickly.

2. People like to argue lists. Lists are a great way to generate conversation. And social media, at its best, is about generating conversations. They might not happen under the lists, they might happen on Digg, or Stumble, or Mixx, but they often happen. Also, arguing means sharing.

1. People like to see what’s on it, and the order. As soon as people see a list, they immediate wonder what’s on it. And so, the #1 thing on the list either affirms what they are thinking, or is completely wrong. That kind of black and white point ensures that people will be engaged.

Look, they work. And they work whether they are ten, or 19 (“Like the 19 things you didn’t know about death“) they are a good tool to drive traffic. Why not give it a try? If a brand can create a list of things that are somewhat entertaining, then the brand can take credit for that entertainment.

That’s the kind of credit that a brand doesn’t mind taking.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. nellyspencer permalink
    August 10, 2008 3:16 pm

    Well admittedly your post captured my attention (and probably for the reasons that you listed). Nice!

  2. August 10, 2008 5:59 pm

    love it. very funny, the concept, not the content. it is easily digested. were trained from birth to love counting. our mother’s lamas, sesame street’s count, how many licks to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop, etc.

  3. August 11, 2008 9:26 am

    Thanks. I find myself telling clients this insight. And every time I’ve said, lets look at Digg, there’s a top ten list of some sort on it. They work.

  4. March 3, 2014 8:53 pm

    Reblogged this on People like to share and commented:

    Top ten lists have died off. I think they disappeared because blogs did. Top ten lists don’t work on Twitter.


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