Listicles are no longer a raging trend anywhereby Arvind Passey on Dec 31, 2021 • 6:50 PM 2 Comments
For quite some months now, my email inbox has grown obese. You know what too many calories can do to a body… right? Well, even my inbox has had an over-dose of empty info-calories that has persisted for months now. I believe this is because new products, technological or otherwise, have kept a low-profile and the PR armies had little to do except build walls of listicles get more likes on TikTok.
Ah! Listicles, let me add here, are loathsome calories or, at best, dainty-looking innocence-hunting placebos that do nothing more than give vacuous smiles like one of those gazillion influencers now pretending to be the slogan, tag, producer, director, actor, caption, copy, and the hook for another million products with a dubious genealogy. Yes, listicles are just as shallow. And unimpressive. Well, most of the time. Many of us will agree with the listicle definition of The Guardian when it proclaims that they are ‘equally beloved for their condensed information format and online virility and decried as lazy journalism for the perennial lunchtime ‘news snacker’.’ It isn’t easy for listicle strategists to ensure that their work ‘memorably sums up the zeitgeist and pings the funny bone’ besides including every possible option in the segment-horizon and not just remain focused on one product range of one company. There are hundreds of readers (both online and offline) on the verge of their decision-to-buy moment who look forward to browsing through listicles. However, it is widely acknowledged that listicles cannot really be a replacement for long format articles… yes, even in these times of ultra-short attention spans and readers who get confused even while scanning micro sentences on twitter. Listicles can thus continue to have a field day on the social media where timelines pile up even before your eye blinks but for those who love scuba-diving into technical details of any product range, it is the blog post or an article in the main-stream media that comes to the rescue. As I have already hinted, these listicles are more like a speaker’s note-cards or a scannable sheet of mathematical formulas just before an exam. I know, you could also compare them to short margin notes or maybe even a shopping list with its obvious check-boxes.
One press release that landed in my email inbox today specifies that in 2021, a covid-ravaged year, influencer marketing has had a 40 percent (year-on-year) growth, thanks to the best TikTok hashtags, you should totally look at how TikTok likes work. The FMCG category walked away with the crown for being the highest spender with a 62 percent increase in their influencer marketing budget and those following it include mental health (116%), holistic wellness (87%), physical fitness (84%), and even sub-genres like baking (233%) from the culinary category. Many readers will be surprised to find traditionally high-spend categories like fashion, luxury, beauty & cosmetics, and auto chugging with a morbid tinge. By the way, even publishing houses and authors have surprisingly jumped in with their own listicles of books that they proclaim as the most deserving reads of the year. This surprise isn’t really a surprise as the big-four social media channels like YouTube, Facebook (now Meta), Instagram, and Twitter have been busy with teens and the slightly older ones continuing to race along with their ‘sponsored’ updates, however cliched their works may be. Shudeep Majumdar, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO), Zefmo Media Private Limited believes that ‘it was during lockdown that the true power of influencer marketing was harnessed to the hilt’. Businesses feel that information consumption is a phenomenon that spurts onwards and upwards unhindered through the social media. Shudeep explains that his company witnessed ‘a 43% jump measured in ‘per influencer earning’(PIE) terms’ and that it is the ‘ability to create user-generated content within the safe confines of their homes that gives the influencers an unprecedented edge to connect with their followers in a scenario where live shoots had come to a standstill.’ Despite all this talk, the discerning reader does believe that it is reliability, relatability, and relevance that matters most… and that listicles that are confined to products from a limited perimeter will never really get consumer trust that they are looking for.
The main issue with listicles is that they have ceased to stand-out as one too many are already jostling all over the online world and managing to simply irritate the sedate reader of information with some insight. After all, how long can such readers bear one teenager after another swishing around with run-of-the-mill dresses or making all sorts of faces while caking her face with something or the other and then announcing with an utterly ludicrous smirk that if she is using a particular product, other too must. ‘Buy it now!’ they chorus and their friends from their circle applaud. I recollect one woman with bulges in the wrong places sashaying in some translucent gown and declaring: ‘… and I hop that 2022 will be full of peace and harmony’. Come on babe, one doesn’t need to hop around to promote peace in the world! What I am saying is that the copy as well as the voice-over scripts are nearly always insipid and embedded with errors of all nature. The social media is now just another tik-tok universe that can sell only mediocrity. All it gets is a lot of sniggers and maybe some degree of lascivious glances by the hoi-polloi. The social media is the new cattle class, if I may be allowed to add.
Do listicles serve any purpose? Well, they do help journalists with their pre-writing research besides the consumer perspectives that I have already mentioned. And anyway, do we really want a listicle-enthused readership? No. I wish that the coming year not be one where everyone remains gutted in the top-5 or best-10 or 7-tips quagmire because each of us must learn to slog-search harder and find out something that is relevant for us. This happens only if one develops the habit of reading long prose bits. Like this blogpost, for instance.
31 December 2021