The List Fad

The popular social news and entertainment website, BuzzFeed is responsible for redefining online advertising with its social, content-driven publishing technology. BuzzFeed provides shareable breaking news, original reporting, entertainment, and video across the social web to its global audience of more than 130M. They are also responsible for countless lists which have grown in popularity on more than just the Buzzfeed website. These list-like articles join together images or even moving images called gifs to make a typically humorous story that is easy to share with friends. The content of these articles ranges from “27 Things You Won’t Regret When You’re Older” to “14 Cats Who Look Better With Bangs.”

If I made a Buzzfeed List, it would be something like this:

Five Annoying Reactions You Get When You Tell People You Are Getting an Online Master’s Degree

1. “Oh please, gimme a break with this!”

2. “Do you really think people will want to hire you with that?”

3. “…Wait… you can submit assignments in your pajamas?”

4. “That’s actually not a bad deal…”

5. “Now tell me how I can sign up for this WVU IMC program!”



So not only are they amusing to read, but they are also fun to create as well. It seems like the instinct is to say that lists work great, and to an extent, this is true.  However that’s not what makes Buzzfeed’s lists go viral. The secret is in the idea of micro-targeting. According to an article written on Contently, most Buzzfeed “listicles” are tailored to be shared by a micro-targeted online population. By just looking at the listicles on BuzzFeed’s homepage right now, you can see this in action from “24 Traits Of The Bay Area You’ll Miss When You Move Away” to “27 Painful Photos Every Short Girl Can Relate To.” People identify with a lot of different characterizations.

There will always be a new fad or trend to catch on to, therefore Buzzfeed will always have ideas for content. Because of the variety, this “list fad” is here to stay. What do you think of these “listicles?”


4 thoughts on “The List Fad

  1. I’ve noticed this, too. Buzzfeed is clever; they’re tailoring their articles to people who are intimidated by full-length articles, and instead they produce material like lists that are easy to read and fun to share. The numbers of articles that are written in full sentences has definitely dwindled and are now reserved specifically for serious articles. Either way, I like Buzzfeed. It’s a good way to be entertained and get informed!

  2. I agree with you Lexy, it is apparent that this is such an obvious tactic to gain views via shares, however it doesn’t stop me from still enjoying and sharing all the same.

  3. I love ranking things ordinarily! How else would we know what’s what in today’s overwhelming selection of nouns?!

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