Top 10 Ways to Improve Lists on Blogs: Listly Revamps Social Lists Platform

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It’s no secret that lists are the core of many blogs and online publications, from the 10 best movies of the year, to the five ways to increase traffic to your website. For publishers looking to go from bullet point or numbered lists to a more interactive experience, there’s Listly, which is debuting a new version of its curated lists platform today. The company helps bloggers, brands, media companies, and anyone else create and embed interactive lists, letting readers vote items up or down, suggest new items, and share specific items on the list with their social networks.

Launched in July 2011, Listly is the brainchild of Shyam Subramanyan, who wanted to make it easier for people to curate lists of things online. Co-founder Nick Kellet said he joined Subramanyan to build Listly in order to take what is often the norm when it comes to online lists, namely static lists that become out of date and don’t include any reader interaction beyond comments at the end of the post, and make it a more interactive experience that helps publishers get more long-term traffic.

“Our approach to social curation lets you gather, rank and share great content in the form of skimable embeddable lists,” Kellet said in an interview. “We let you engage your audience over time to help keep your content fresh and valuable.”

On Listly users can create a list, for example their favorite online technology publications, by adding a title and description, and then adding items via a URL, using the Listly bookmarklet, or typing in information manually. Once the list is finished, users can share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, or via email, embed using an embed code, or if they request a publisher key they can embed using the WordPress plug-in. Readers can then vote items up or down, and list owners can also request crowdsourced suggestions, so for example a conference organizer could list five guest speakers at an upcoming event, and request suggestions for additional speakers.

Today’s new version of Listly is mobile-optimized, with additional embed layout options (gallery style with image thumbnails, or a short version with only the titles and no descriptions/images), and the ability to share a link to one item on an embedded list, so readers can share for example number 5 on a list of 20 items. The company is also introducing premium accounts, which give users the ability to create a list in draft mode before making it public, hide ads in lists, and offer more moderation features. The premium accounts are priced at $99 per year for individuals, with a $299 account for teams to be added soon.

Kellet declined to share any growth stats about the platform, but one of the company’s most popular lists of the best doll blogs has over 100,000 views to date. He said premium accounts aren’t the only way the company will monetize, but didn’t share any details about possible revenue streams. Conceivably it could include options like paid placements for brands on lists, for example Nike paying for a spot on the list of the top running shoe brands. As for what’s next, after launching team accounts the company will focus on adding more tools for brands and publishers, who are often their most frequent users.

“Listly works when the lists are interesting. So we think first about the participants who read and contribute to lists,” Kellet said about the platform’s users. “Publishers, brands and bloggers are often the people making lists, and for them we think about delivering a scalable curation platform.”

Kellet calls Listly’s lists “living media,” a way to turn a blog post that would often only spike in traffic once and continually bring back readers or list collaborators. In order to make the price of a team or premium account worthwhile, users will need to see a marked increase in traffic or engagement on their blogs, otherwise they’ll likely default to the numbered lists so common on blogs today.

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Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin has covered startups and technology for over three years in publications including Sprouter Weekly, The Globe and Mail, Business Insider, Mashable, and VentureBeat. She also writes a regular startup column for the Financial Post, and is a technology expert on CTV News Channel. Before BetaKit Erin worked as Director of Content & Communications at Sprouter from its launch in 2009 until its acquisition by Postmedia Network Inc. She was recently named one of Marketing Magazine's 30 Under 30 in 2012.

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