There’s really no mystery to the enduring popularity of the list-based article format.
Whether you love or hate it as a form of content, the list-article (listicle) has been around forever (it only feels like Buzzfeed recently invented it.) As the editor of a parenting website, I get to write a lot for mums and dads, and listicles remain consistently popular.
So, why do parents love reading lists? Let us count the ways…
1. You Know What You’re Getting
Parents don’t get a lot of time to themselves. Fact. And one of the benefits of a listicle is that you know what you’re getting before you even click. That means time-poor parents can find content that fits around their day. Found yourself with a rare three minutes of peace in the bathroom? You’ll need something with 10 points or less. Awake at 3am for a night feed? Then you’ve got time for “144 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer ranked best to worst.”
2. They’re Easy To Read
Parents have short attention spans. Not because they’re less interested, but because at any moment they could be distracted by a tiny person who needs their attention more. Listicles can be any length, but each point is usually succinct. That makes them the perfect snackable content: easy to scan, skim-read and dip in and out of.
3. In Fact, Some Are Just A Single Sentence With Accompanying Gif.
4. They Provide A Little Light Relief
When you’ve just spent the last half-hour cleaning baby poo off of a sofa cushion, or arguing with a toddler over their philosophy on socks, it’s little wonder parents are in need of some comic relief. Listicles might be considered a ‘low-brow’ form of writing, but that suits their lighthearted topics just fine. You won’t find a “25 reasons the current government is putting all of our lives at risk”, but you will find “17 cats who look like Madonna.” And that’s the one your frazzled parent will be clicking on.
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5. You Can Read Them One Handed
Once you become a parent, you find yourself – quite literally – with your hands full. Gone are the days of leisurely flipping through a magazine. For parents, the most practical content is mobile. And when it comes to reading a listicle, all you need is one free thumb to scroll to your heart’s content. (Leaving you with the other hand free to hold the baby, wipe down surfaces or pick up Lego off of the floor.)
6. They’re Relatable…
These are the listicles that will have you crying, “SO TRUE” at the screen. And relatable content is never more reassuring than when you enter the wild ride that is parenthood. Lists that tap into those everyday struggles can make parents feel less alone at a time when they’re feeling the most out of their depth. That’s why tailored topics like ‘8 things you only know when your baby is teething’ or ‘9 things you know if you’re pregnant in summer’ do so well. The more specific to their child’s age and stage the better.
7. …Which Makes Them Shareable
And dare we say it, viral? Parents value other parents’ advice and opinions. It’s why parenting forums and message boards are so popular. And it’s the same reason parents will hit share on Facebook when they read a listicle they relate to.