If you have spent any time on LinkedIn recently, you may have noticed a pattern in many of the shared post titles. More and more blog posts contain titles that refer to a numbered list: “3 Strategies for Maximizing Your Potential on LinkedIn”; “6 Infallible Sales Strategies for Beating Even the Toughest Competition”; “5 Ways to Start Planning for 2017”. Some companies use this style more often than others (Entrepreneur Media, to call someone out). What is it that they are onto? Here are three reasons why we think this has become a trend.
1. They give a quantified takeaway
Even before clicking on the link to the article, a potential reader knows they are going to walk away with a certain number of gained knowledge points. From the writer’s perspective, readers will be more likely to choose to read their article if they can guarantee them takeaways. To illustrate this, imagine a retailer sending out a coupon that did not state what the discount was. While some might be intrigued on the possible value, there is likely to be more participation if the customer knows what they will be getting before going to the store.
2. We have very short attention spans
Let’s admit it. We are constantly distracted. A recent study shows that our average attention span has decreased to 8 seconds. 8! That is so short that if you are currently reading this sentence, you are either a fast reader or have a relatively long attention span. In light of this realization, it makes sense to structure your posts in a way that allows people to skim articles and still get the main information they need. Readers are now aware that if they see an article titled with a numbered list, they will be able to only read the headlines and still walk away with the broader points of the article.
3. People like lists
From a reader’s perspective, reading articles broken down into a specific number of content areas is easier to comprehend and follow than ones that are not. Imagine a book without chapters. Lists allow one to close out on one thought when they know that section is over and to prepare for the next one.
A combination of benefits like being able to skim and receiving a quantified takeaway have led people to gravitate toward articles containing a numbered list. As our attention spans become shorter and our value expectations become greater at the same time, we might see this trend continue in the online reading world.