Inc. reports that the average human attention span is down to 8 seconds — less than that of a goldfish — and declining. Capturing that attention is your number-one challenge for your content creation.
With inbound marketing, you at least have the advantage that consumers are seeking you. (As opposed to outbound marketing where you must find them.) Still, once consumers have found their way to your social-media channel or blog, you need to make sure they stay there.
Three things can help:
- Bullet points
- More bullet points
- But not too many bullet points
Just kidding (sort of). There are several elements that make great content great. But, bullet points are one of the most handy, and often misused tools in your toolbox. You see, a bulleted list — or an unordered list for those of you who speak HTML — saves space and makes reading easier.
How to Write Great Bullet Points
Brain Clark of Copyblogger says, “Being a master at writing exceptional bullet points is one of the most important copywriting skills around, second only to headline writing.”
Copyblogger also offers a list of 5 Bullet Point Basics, so if you need a primer, head over there for a moment.
Are you back? Great! Now, let’s make your content engaging, easy-to-read and memorable. Here are some ways to employ bullet points for writing that keeps readers hooked:
Use them at the beginning.
- Tell people what they’re about to read.
- Tell them why it matters.
- Include only the most exciting points.
Use them at the end.
- Wrap up what you’ve said.
- Tell them why it matters.
- Tell them when they’ll hear from you next.
- Promise more amazing content.
Turn your whole darn article into bullets.
- Identify the most relevant points.
- Eliminate redundant words and phrases.
- List the information people care about.
- Prioritize clarity above poetry.
Bullet points aren’t just great for blog posts or long articles. Use them to create a graphic for Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. You can even try animating them, making them appear on screen one at a time. You will convey your message quickly and effectively.
Bullet Point ‘Best Practices’
Wherever you use bullet points, make them as easy as possible to read. Some suggestions to accomplish this include:
- Make each point (statement) roughly the same length as the others.
- Start each one with the same part of speech (noun, verb, etc.).
- Use the same font and type size throughout.
A word about punctuation: If each of your bullet points is a standalone sentence, punctuate it as such. If each one is a fragment, you don’t need ending punctuation.
Like anything, bullet points can be overused. Sometimes your writing calls for traditional paragraph form. That means, you need to know when to bullet and when not to bullet. Here are some bullet point “don’ts”:
- Don’t use too many. The eye can comfortably absorb four or five bullet points, but no more.
- Don’t use too few. If you only have one or two points, you don’t really need bullet points.
- Don’t treat them as shorthand – be sure to still pay attention to spelling and grammar.
Go Forth and Write
One more great thing about bullet points: They’re a cure for writer’s block! Next time you’re staring at the screen wondering how to get your thoughts into words, start a list. Capturing the key words and phrases is half the battle. Once you have your list, just proofread it, clean it up where necessary, and you may find the work is already done!
Photo credit: Viscious – Speed / CC0 Public Domain