A digital health colleague recently declared that she didn’t like listicles. As you hopefully know, a listicle is a chunk of writing shaped as a list. Wikipedia sums it up:
In journalism and blogging, a listicle is a short-form of writing that uses a list as its thematic structure, but is fleshed out with sufficient copy to be published as an article. A typical listicle will prominently feature a cardinal number in its title, with subsequent subheadings within the text itself reflecting this schema. The word is a portmanteau derived from list and article. It has also been suggested that the word evokes “popsicle”, emphasising the fun but “not too nutritious” nature of the listicle.
Health professionals, she claimed, were above lists. But a listicle is just a shape that content takes. It’s a format. I like listicles. And I like the idea of listicles for health education. Here’s why:
- They respect the reader. Listicles respect the fact that readers don’t want to dig to get to the point. Kinda like eating a whole lobster.
- They make a promise. Listicles make the promise of concise, tight, nicely designed chunks of information. This promise is irresistible to tired consumers. And when my writing makes a promise of 4 points my click-through rate is higher.
- They acknowledge modern information consumption. Modern digital health consumers eat in chunks. Whether you like this or not is irrelevant.
Content strategists and people who sell things understand this. Health professionals don’t. Most health education material that crosses my desk is longwinded and unapproachable. Endless strings of paragraphs and pages of bloviating health instructions do little to inspire.
So if we want health information conveyed, why not exploit the listicle? Why haven’t we learned from those in marketing who understand
“But you don’t sell things, Dr V.”
Au contraire, Pierre. Every minute of every clinical day is a display of selling and negotiation with parents. If you don’t believe that you have no idea how pediatricians work.
We don’t have to like how consumers consume but we should understand it.
Fun, but not too nutritious. Why not leverage that?
Image via Jacki Gallagher on Flickr