Content writing

How to Write a Listicle That Gets Shared

December 12, 2023

So you want to write a listicle, huh? That’s a smart move. Listicles are highly shareable and can drive major traffic. But not just any listicle will do. You need one with the secret sauce — the ingredients that will have your readers clicking that share button again and again. Before you start pounding the keyboard, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got these 7 secrets down pat. Use them and you’ll be churning out viral listicles in no time, building your audience and skyrocketing your views. The best part? Anyone can master the art of the listicle. Whether you’re a blogging newbie or veteran writer, these tips will supercharge your listicles and have your readers begging for more. Let's dive in.

What is a Listicle?

So what exactly is a listicle? Simply put, a listicle is an article written in list format, typically with a few sentences or paragraphs for each list item. It is a blend of the words “list” and “article.” Listicles present information in bite-sized, easily digestible portions, making the content more engaging and scannable for readers.

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Why are listicles so popular?

Listicles are popular for several reasons:

  • They’re easy to read. The list format, with short sections of text and eye-catching headings, makes the content easy to quickly scan and consume.
  • They’re shareable. The listicle format lends itself well to social sharing since readers can easily skim the highlights. This shareability is key to a listicle’s success and reach.
  • They’re interactive. Readers often comment on individual list items, debate the rankings, add their own suggestions, and share personal stories or experiences related to the topic. This interactivity and engagement deepens the connection between the content and the audience.
  • They drive traffic. The shareability of listicles leads to increased page views, social engagements, and inbound links to the content. All of this activity signals to search engines like Google that the content is popular and valuable, which results in higher search rankings.
  • They’re adaptable. Listicles work well for many topics, from entertaining to educational. They can take on many forms, like rankings, “how-tos,” roundups of tips or facts, or pros and cons. This flexibility makes the listicle format suitable for most blogs and websites.
  • They generate buzz. A well-crafted listicle has all the right elements to create some online buzz. They tap into psychological triggers like curiosity, emotion, and debate. When a listicle resonates with readers, it will spread like wildfire across social networks and the web.

So whether you’re a blogger, content creator, or digital marketer, the listicle is a tool you should have in your arsenal. When used effectively, listicles can drive massive exposure and traffic, build brand awareness, and boost audience engagement.

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1. Choose the Right Topic That People Want to Read

The topic you choose for your listicle is critical to its success. Pick a subject that people genuinely want to read about, and you’ll have a much better chance of gaining lots of shares and social media love.

Choose a Topic That Solves a Problem or Answers a Question

The best listicles tackle issues or questions that people frequently search for answers to online. For example, “7 Ways to Get Your Toddler to Sleep Through the Night” or “10 Questions You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask Your Doctor (Answered!).” Lists that provide helpful solutions or advice on common challenges, concerns, or curiosities are always a hit.

Think about the types of how-to topics, tips, life hacks, or explainers you search for when you have a question. Chances are, other people are also looking for that same information. A list that provides value by educating or solving problems for readers will get tons of attention and shares.

Make It Practical, Not Preachy

Keep your list focused on useful, actionable advice rather than opinions. For example, compare “10 Ways to Become a Morning Person” versus “10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Wake Up at 5 AM.” The former provides helpful tips, while the latter promotes a subjective opinion. Stick to recommendations that anyone could benefit from, regardless of beliefs or lifestyle.

Trendy or Evergreen?

Consider covering a trending topic to get lots of initial interest, but evergreen topics have longevity. A list on an evergreen subject will continue getting traffic and shares for a long time. Some evergreen examples include:

  • Home organization hacks
  • Travel tips
  • Health and wellness advice

Whether you choose a trending topic or an evergreen subject, make sure it’s something that a large number of people genuinely want information and recommendations on. The more useful and helpful your list is, the more people will want to read and share it.

2. Use Numbers and Lists to Make It Skimmable

Listicles are popular for a reason—people love lists! Using numbers and bullet points in your listicle makes the content easy to skim, which encourages more shares. Here are some tips for crafting a skimmable listicle:

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Use short paragraphs with 3-5 sentences

Keep your paragraphs brief so readers can quickly scan the content. Short paragraphs with a few concise sentences are ideal for listicles.

Number your lists

Whether it’s a “top 10” list or just a collection of tips, use numbered lists (1., 2., 3., etc.) to visually break up your content into bite-sized pieces. Readers will appreciate the clear organization.

Use bold headers for numbered lists

Make your numbered lists even more skimmable by using bold text for the list item headers. For example:

  1. Choose an attention-grabbing headline
  2. Use an eye-catching featured image
  3. Keep your intro short and sweet

Use bullet points for sub-points

If you have multiple sub-points for any items in your numbered list, use bulleted sub-lists to keep things tidy. For example:

Choose an attention-grabbing headline

  1. Include a number (e.g. “10 Ways to...”)
  2. Use an imperative verb (e.g. “Boost Your...”)
  3. Ask a question (e.g. “Are You Making This Mistake...?”)

Use an eye-catching featured image

  1. Choose an image that is colorful and evocative
  2. Make sure the image relates directly to your topic or content
  3. Optimize your image for social sharing by resizing to 1200x628 pixels

Leave plenty of white space

Don’t crowd your content by eliminating white space in your listicle. Use double spacing between list items and sections to give readers breathing room and make the content appear more digestible.

Following these tips will make your listicle as skimmable and shareable as possible. Keep your content bite-sized, make the most of lists and sub-lists, use bold headers and leave lots of white space. Before you know it, your listicle will be racking up the shares!

3. Keep Sections Short and Scannable

Keep your listicle sections short and scannable. Readers have short attention spans, so keep each section under 200 words. Use double spacing between sections to make them easy to read quickly.

Keep a consistent structure

Maintain a consistent structure for your listicle. Group sections into categories if needed. For example, you might have sections on “Planning Your Listicle,” “Writing Your Listicle,” “Promoting Your Listicle,” etc. Consistency helps readers navigate the content.

Use transition words

Include transition words and phrases like “next,” “in addition,” or “ moreover” to link sections and make the flow between topics smooth. Transition words make listicles feel cohesive rather than choppy.

Check your facts

Double check any facts, stats, or claims in your listicle. Readers expect information in listicles to be accurate and up-to-date. Cite credible sources for any information that isn’t common knowledge.

Proofread carefully

Carefully proofread your listicle for any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors before publishing. Even minor typos and mistakes can reflect poorly on your content and credibility.

4. Include Images and Graphics to Break Up Text

Images and graphics are essential for any listicle. They break up blocks of text, making your content more visually appealing and easier to read. Images also help get attention on social media, since many people quickly scroll through their feeds.

Choose High Quality, Attention-Grabbing Images

Select images that are high resolution, visually interesting, and fit your topic. For example, if you’re writing about travel destinations, include stunning landscape shots or photos of landmarks. Use stock photo sites like Unsplash, Pexels or Pixabay to find free, professional images. Or take your own photos if you have the skills and means.

  • Make images at least 600-800 pixels wide for readability.
  • Use captions or image descriptions to provide context for readers.
  • Place images strategically throughout your post. Don’t clump them all at the top.

Include Infographics or Data Visualizations

Infographics, charts, graphs and other data visualizations are extremely shareable on social media. They convey information in an easy to understand yet interesting way. Create your own infographics using tools like Canva, Piktochart or Venngage. Or source free infographics from sites like Visual.ly, Infogram and Visme.

Video Embeds

Short video clips or GIFs are another way to capture attention in a listicle. Look for relevant videos on YouTube or Vimeo and embed them in your post. Keep videos around 1 to 2 minutes for the best engagement.

Use Screenshots

Screenshots are simple to create and add a visual element to your listicle. Take screenshots of relevant social media posts, websites, apps or software to supplement your content. Annotate the screenshots with arrows, circles or text to highlight key points.

Following these tips will make your listicle more scannable, shareable and engaging for readers. Images, graphics and multimedia truly bring listicles to life. So get visual and watch your content spread!

5. Write Snappy, Shareable Headlines

Coming up with a catchy headline is key to getting your listicle shared. Here are some tips to craft irresistible listicle headlines:

Use Numbers

Headlines with numbers, especially round numbers like 3, 5, or 10, attract more attention and imply a quick, skimmable read. But only use a number if you actually have that many points—don't exaggerate just for effect!

Invoke Curiosity

A headline that sparks curiosity, like “What Your Waiter Won't Tell You About Restaurant Food” or “The Surprising Reason You Can't Stick to a Diet” will make people eager to click and read more. Tease the secret or revelation in the headline without giving it all away.

Use Power Words

Words like secrets, hacks, tips, tricks, surprising, ultimate, essential, and must-know grab interest. But only use them if they're truthful and match the content. Don't overhype your listicle.

Ask a Question

A headline posed as a question, like “Are You Making These Mistakes at the Gym?” or “Is This the Best Pizza in New York?” gives the reader a reason to click in order find the answer. Make sure you actually provide helpful solutions and answers in the content.

Use Humor

A funny or witty headline like “13 Problems Only Left-Handed People Understand” or “If Disney Princesses Had Realistic Hair” will make people smile and share the laugh with their friends and followers. But make sure the humor carries into the actual content.

6. Make Sure to Include Useful Tips or Takeaways

A listicle is meant to be an engaging content format, so make sure each item provides useful tips or actionable takeaways for your readers. Don’t just make a list of superficial points—flesh each one out with details that teach your audience something valuable.

For example, if you’re writing “7 Ways to Improve Your Productivity,” don’t simply say:

  1. Wake up early
  2. Make a schedule
  3. Take breaks

Instead, expand on each point:

  1. Wake up early. Getting up just 30-60 minutes earlier can give you extra time to exercise, plan your day, and work on important tasks before the chaos of the day begins. An energizing morning routine will set the right productive mindset for the day.
  2. Make a schedule. Figure out your priorities and deadlines, then map out how you’ll spend your time each day to accomplish everything efficiently. Having time blocked off for your high-impact work will help avoid distractions and make you ultra-productive. Review how you actually spend your time each day to make improvements to your schedule.
  3. Take regular breaks. While discipline and focus are key to productivity, it’s also important to rest your mind. Step away from your work for at least 30 minutes each day to recharge and renew your mental energy. Go for a walk, stretch, or do some light exercise. You’ll return to your tasks feeling inspired and ready to focus.

Useful tips show readers concrete steps they can take to solve a problem or achieve a goal. Actionable takeaways give readers specific things they can implement in their own lives. Make sure each item in your listicle contains this type of valuable content, not just superficial points. Readers will appreciate the useful knowledge and be more likely to share the content with others.

7. Promote Your Listicle on Social Media

Promoting your listicle on social media is key to driving traffic and shares. Here are some tips to get more eyeballs on your content:

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Share on multiple platforms

Don’t just post your listicle on one social network. Cross-promote on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Tailor your messaging to match the audience on each platform. For example, on Facebook and Pinterest focus on visuals and lifestyle angles, on X keep it short and snappy, and on LinkedIn take a more professional approach.

Include hashtags

Hashtags help more people discover your content. Do some research to find the most popular hashtags for your topic and include a few in your social posts. But don’t go overboard, 3 to 5 hashtags per post is typically enough. Also, create a unique hashtag for your listicle and encourage people to use it when sharing.

Engage with your audience

Don’t just post and run. Monitor the response to your listicle on social media and engage with your readers. Reply to their comments, like and share their posts, and tweet them back. Engagement fosters community and will motivate people to share your content with their own networks. Staying active and conversational on social media will get your listicle in front of more eyes.

Frequently Asked Questions About Writing Good Listicles

So you want to write a listicle, but don’t know where to start? Here are some of the most common questions and tips to keep in mind:

How do I come up with a good listicle topic?

Choose a subject you’re passionate about and know well. Some of the most popular listicles focus on travel destinations, life hacks, health and wellness tips, productivity tricks, and pop culture roundups. Once you have a broad topic in mind, narrow it down to a specific angle or theme to make it unique. For example, “7 Secrets to Writing Listicles That Get Shared” or “The 13 Best Road Trips in the American Southwest.”

How many points should be in my list?

The ideal number is between 5 to 15 points. Too few and it may seem lacking in content, too many and it can feel overwhelming. Around 7 to 12 is a good target. Each point should be a short paragraph, ideally 3 to 5 sentences. Keep your writing concise while still being descriptive.

What’s the best way to structure a listicle?

Use a numbered or bulleted list for your main points. Start with an intro paragraph that hooks the reader and gives an overview of what’s to come. End with a summary paragraph that reinforces your key takeaways. Use subheadings for sections if needed. Leave plenty of white space by using short paragraphs and double line spacing between sections. This makes your listicle easy to scan and digest.

How can I make my listicle more shareable?

Choose an exciting title with a number in it, like “21 Surprising Benefits of Walking Every Day.” Use an eye-catching featured image. Include interesting facts, statistics, quotes, or examples to bring your points to life. End on a surprising or funny note. Ask readers to share their thoughts or experiences in the comments. Make your content easy to read and share on social media. These little extras will increase your listicle’s shareability and reach.

Write Engaging Listicles with Hypotenuse AI

Here are your 7 secrets to crafting irresistible listicles! Follow these tips and watch your content spread across the web as readers eagerly share your posts with their networks. Give people information that makes their lives easier or more interesting, and they'll reward you with their loyalty and shares!

P.S. Hypotenuse AI offers over 20 different content templates and a smart document editor to help you write unique content from scratch. Try it for free here!

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