If you’ve spent any amount of time on Digg you’ll know how popular the “top (number)” lists are. Top 5, 10, 50 and 100 lists regularly reach the front page – but which number list is the most popular of all?
We analysed 766 list stories on Digg to find the most popular “top list”. To do this we searched for any story that reached the front page containing the word, “top” in the title.
Obviously, there were some stories that contain “top” in the title without a number, such as “Top Secret Pictures from Iran” and “Top Gear – Tiny Car Review” but only submissions that were in a numbered list format are included in the analysis regardless of whether the number was written as a word (ten) or as a number (10). Buried stories were not included.
It should come as no surprise to anybody who visits Digg regularly that the “top 10″ list is the most popular of all. From our analysis we found that the “top 10″ list format has reached the homepage more times than all other “top (number)” lists combined. “Top 10″ lists had reached the front page a total of 448 times. The second most popular list format was “Top 5″, which reached the front page on 89 occasions.
The chart below shows the percentages for the most popular top list numbers.
Which sub-category has the most list posts reach the front page?
Next, we looked at all the “top list” posts that had reached the front page to determine how popular these lists are in the various sub-categories on Digg.
The three sub-categories with the most “top (number) lists to reach the front page are:
Tech Industry News – 89
Odd Stuff – 87
Gaming Industry News – 84
The chart below shows how many top lists have reached the front page of Digg according to sub-category. (Click on the picture below to see the full-size chart)
What are the most popular words in the titles of list posts?
We used a word frequency calculator to examine what the most popular words are in the “top list” posts. We used this word frequency calculator (if you know of any better tools to use then leave a link in the comments section)
Excluding the word “top”, which appears in all 766 posts, the top 20 most used words in all headlines are as follows:
(Word) (No. of Times Word Appears in All Titles) (% of Frequency)
1. the (187) (4.8%)
2. of (130) (3.3%)
3. to (83) (2.1%)
4. most (69) (1.8%)
5. for (62) (1.6%)
6. time (61) (1.6%)
7. in (59) (1.5%)
8. games (56) (1.4%)
9. all (54) (1.4%)
10. and (49) (1.3%)
11. things (30) (0.8%)
12. you (30) (0.8%)
13. movies (29) (0.7%)
14. that (26) (0.7%)
15. a (25) (0.6%)
16. video (24) (0.6%)
17. ways (22) (0.6%)
18. your (22) (0.6%)
19. worst (21) (0.5%)
20. from (20) (0.5%)
Based on the word frequency of previous successful submissions it would seem that the best title to use for a “top (number)” submission is:
“The Top 10 Games of All Time”
(If you can manage to create a better title with the top 20 words listed here then leave your examples in the comments section and we’ll update this section with your examples)
Will list posts continue to be successful in the future?
The list format has been successful on Digg (and most other social media sites) for a while now, but will list posts continue to have success in the future? Brian Clark of Copyblogger certainly seems to think that list posts will always work.
The “top (number)” list format also works well on social news sites because as Brian Clark says, they make a “specific promise” to the reader. The “top” list format also mean that readers can scan the content and the information is broken up into short, manageable sections by the numbers.
As more list posts make their way onto the social media popular pages, each list will have to be more remarkable than ever to achieve front-page success.
We’re going to be conducting more research into the type of content that works on social media sites over the coming weeks. Sign-up for our RSS to keep in touch with all the latest social media analysis.
What do you think about “top (number)” lists. Are you sick of of them or do you still like to read them? Leave your opinions in the comment section below.
(note – unfortunately, you can’t search for numbers in Digg, so including the word “top” might mean that the number, “10” is likely to be the most popular as it’s almost the “default setting” for “top (number)” lists. Similar research into Digg lists were carried out this year)
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