5 Reasons I’m tired of these titles

numbers_in_titlesHave you looked at your Facebook news feed lately? Or perhaps it’s your Twitter? Here are the titles of the blog posts that people are linking to on my Facebook feed:

  • 31 DIY Ways To Make Your Backyard Awesome This Summer
  • 25 Kids That Gave Absolutely Brilliant Answers On Their Tests. These Are Hysterically Genius.
  • 200 Wise Words For Everyone. Number 28 Is Gold
  • 8 Beers That You Should Stop Drinking Immediately
  • 5 Companies That Excel at Screwing Over Customers

It’s become a very common trend to get use numbers as a way of attracting you to the title of a blog: 31 Ways, 25 Kids, 200 Wise Words, 8 Beers, 5 Companies. I bet you wanted to click on those articles, I know I did. There are many reasons why bloggers love to use these kind of titles and they make intuitive sense, even if it irks me to no end that the only reason they do it is for you to click, share and hope for viral growth.

1. Numbers, just like this list that you are now reading, help focus your attention.

2. Numbers, just like this particular point, set expectations.

3. Numbers, and you know I’m going to go to five, let you know how long it will take to read. 200 Wise Words, god that’s just too much y’know, but yeah I’ll scroll to Number 28…

4. Numbers… we like to count, no I’m not the Count. It’s probably something left over from grade school. I think I should write an article on the 1,356,218,235 Awesome Raindrops I Counted Today.

5. Numbers indicate a list, and boy do we like ranked lists.

I know that we all are busy and we don’t have time. I know that bloggers, journalists, writers, including humble moi, just like to be read and shared, so yes we need to make things as easy to digest as possible. However, we readers should be asking more from our bloggers, writers and journalists, lest we get the exact type of journalism and blogging that we deserve: 10 Photos Of Crimea That Will Blow Your Mind. No actual dissection of issues, reasons or discussion to make decisions with. I sincerely hope that Obama or Harper’s daily briefings aren’t titled the same way … “10 Facts That Will Blow Your Mind About Putin“.

We, both as readers and writers, need to be less driven to that quick laugh, that quick share or that quick hit. We as a society should be demanding more. Yes, it’s okay to watch a funny cat video, heck, funny cat videos make the world a better place, but imagine if that’s all there is? Imagine if all you saw in your news feeds and newspapers were articles like the above. That would make me sad.

I know. Easy to say and very likely I’m overreacting. I’d like to think that we are all smarter than those that try to manipulate us with flashy headlines, quick soundbites and numbered lists. What say you? Is it time to have 5 Reasons To Boycott Numbers In Annoying Blog Posts That Drive Me Mad?


7 thoughts on “5 Reasons I’m tired of these titles

  1. LOL! I recently tried a blog post using numbered points like you describe, though I didn’t put the numbers in the title. Honestly, I found it as much work coming up with a numbered list of points as I did writing the actual article. I agree completely with your third to last paragraph.

  2. Human act in predictable ways, getting their attention with ways that will answer their questions or solve their problems continues to be most effective. To experienced marketers and business development people – or those who spend a lot of time on social networking sites and see a tidal wave of promotions using this formula it will appear to be overused. But the people who are buying – and there is always someone buying – need this nudge. Please share an alternative method and perhaps the EA community can test it.

    1. I realize that from a high level that I am in the minority as I probably spend more time on Social Media than your average Joe or Jane. However, I sincerely wish we didn’t always fall to the lowest common denominator to catch attention 🙂 Now yes, suddenly sounding elitist. I guess one of the other problems I have with this type of title is that often the content is incredibly poor and basically just “click-bait”. Yep, absolutely, get people to click but let’s actually create great content, let’s make the world more educated. Just my two cents 🙂

  3. This is exactly why I stopped clicking on such articles. A lot of time it is just bluff and an old story in a fancy new bottle.

    This is exactly the same reason, I stopped looking at Yahoo featured stores. 10 Signs of Infidelity… blah blah…. And it is funny that they just change the title and rerun the articles….

  4. I don’t think using marketing hooks precludes providing quality content. Crap is crap regardless of its title.

    However, I suspect that a lot of social media shares are from people who liked a headline and did not bother to click through and vet the quality of the link.

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