Community Driven List Posts: A Tool for Bloggers

social media toolsMost bloggers quickly discover that posts that contain lists are popular.

Unfortunately, list posts usually require a lot of work to write and are rarely updated after they’re published.

What if there was an easy way to create list posts and keep them up to date?

List.ly can help you do this. Plus List.ly offers you a welcome bit of social interaction.

Create a Community-Driven List Post

List.ly is a collaborative list-building tool. You create the initial list on the List.ly website and you can embed it as part of your blog post. Embedding means that it appears as if it’s in your blog post, but it still resides on List.ly.

What’s cool is that your community can then add and/or vote for items on the list. This can be a useful tool to engage with your community and discover more about their interests.

naked marketing example

An example of a list created within List.ly. Notice the branding image at the top of the list and the number of positive and negative votes for each item on the list.

Because your list is available on the List.ly website, when visitors to List.ly are interested in your list, they can choose to display it on their website as well.

Why not brand your list and include a link back to your website? This can be a great promotional tool and potential source of traffic to your website.

banner image example

An example of a banner image that can be displayed at the top of the list.

Create Your First Dynamic List!

To create your first list within List.ly, go to the List.ly website and select the option for New List.

Enter the title of the list and give it a description. When your list is displayed, both of these appear across the top of the list.

Below the description field, click on Advanced Options. There are a few options that are important to set up.

  • Headline Image—this allows you to upload an image that’s displayed at the top of the list. This is a great way to promote your business, so upload an image that represents your brand. The maximum image size is 600 x 150 pixels, giving you plenty of space to make a statement.
  • Credits—specify the website address that this list links to. You could specify the home page of your website or you may want to set up a landing page so you can track any traffic coming from List.ly. Either way, make sure you configure this so you don’t lose traffic.
advanced options

Setting up important advanced options—Headline Image and Credits.

In addition to these options, you might also want to consider customizing your voting options. By default, List.ly captures who likes or dislikes an item, but you can also choose to collect additional feedback such as who uses an item, who has heard of an item or who wants to know more about an item.

Create the List Items

When you’re adding items to the list, you either specify the website address of the item or simply give the item a name.

By specifying the website address, List.ly tries to retrieve relevant information from the website such as an image, description and tags.

One drawback is that if there’s no suitable image found, you’re not given the option to upload your own image at this point. You’re able to do this after the item has been added to the list, but this functionality should really be part of the initial list creation.

add item to list

Creating list items for the list that you have created.

Here’s an example of a newly created list without a banner image. As the items have just been added, the items are listed in no particular order. However, you can change the initial order of the items by going to the Curated tab and dragging the items up or down.

reorder list items

Reorder the list by dragging items up and down.

Once the list is created, anyone can choose to view, interact or even update the list.

For example, people can indicate if they like (thumbs up) or dislike (thumbs down) an item. By default, the item with the highest number of likes appears at the top of the list, but you can also choose to view the list in alphabetical order, oldest/newest first and so on.

Users can comment on an item, add a new item to the list, follow the list, share the list or even embed it within their own website. At the top of every list, you have the following options:

  • Views—this shows the number of times this list was displayed to users. This is a total count, which includes views on the List.ly website, your website and any other websites this list is on. This is not a count of unique views. So, for example, if one person views the list 10 times, it’s counted as 10 views.
  • Follow List—this gives you the option to follow the list and get updates relevant to the list.
  • Embed—this is where you get the embed code to display the list within your website.
  • Share—this allows you to share the list out to your social networks.

Install it on Your Blog

To embed the list on your blog, select the Embed option at the top of the list.

Choose the Embed option that matches your blog so that you get the right embed code. If your blog runs on WordPress, you also have to install the List.ly WordPress plugin.

Next, you can choose the layout style for your listFull, Short or Gallery. Not all of the options are available for each embed type.

The Full and Short styles are very similar. The only difference is that the description of each item is not displayed in the Short layout. This is minimal format suitable in cases where space is limited.

The Gallery layout is visually more appealing; however, the downside is that the list order isn’t as obvious. So if it’s a list of the “Top 10 Most Popular Twitter Tools,” then maybe the Full or Short styles would work better.

embed layouts

Layout styles when embedding a list. Short is great if space is limited and Gallery can be visually more appealing.

Great Features of List.ly

The list automatically adjusts for a mobile device. As mobile is increasingly important, this is a great feature.

List.ly hasn’t rolled this out to everyone yet, but they will support a featured item in a list. This is highlighted at the top of a list. When someone then votes for a featured item, you can integrate it with AWeber to encourage a user to become a subscriber.

This is a great feature that helps increase subscriptions through the list. There is plenty of other potential for this type of functionality.

For example, if you had a list of the top 10 social media guides, you could collect the name and email address of anyone who votes on any particular guide.

featured item popup

Email subscription popup that appears after you vote for a featured item.

Danny Inny from Firepole Marketing said,

“I thought List.ly was great—it let me give free rein to my audience to contribute, create, and rank, and brought the conversation to a whole new level.”

It’s easy to set up and allows people to vote on items. To vote, you must connect to Twitter or Facebook. This is good because it reduces invalid votes.

By having a list that is shareable and embeddable on other blogs, you’re going to get some benefit from a search engine optimization point of view. Each time it is embedded on another site, that’s a link back to your site. Search engines also prefer fresh content, so if your list gets updated it’s more likely to do better in search results.

You create a collaborative list that can be added to and voted on by other members of the community. A collaborative list developed by the community is more likely to get updated and shared out.

It’s great that you can include a nice big banner image at the top of the list that promotes your brand when the list is embedded on other blogs.

The lists can include a variety of content and are not just designed for text. For example, a list of videos can allow users to view the video within the list.

Room for Improvement

While the tool has some really cool features, there are some improvements that could be added to List.ly to give you more control over your list and make this a really useful list blogging tool.

Configurable embed feature—at present, this allows your list to be displayed on your website and other websites. However, you currently cannot restrict who embeds the list on their site or disable this feature completely. This would be very useful if, for example, you wanted to stop competitors from embedding your list on their website.

List sizeyou cannot stop people from adding items to your list. So, for example, you may want to create a list of your favorite WordPress plugins. In this case, you wouldn’t be able to set up a list that didn’t allow any additions.

There is a moderation option that lets the owner decide which items make it onto the list, but these items are still displayed at the bottom of the list so everyone can see the items awaiting moderation. It would be better if you could choose to hide these items until the decision has been made.

Link back to your site—At the moment, you can set up one link back to your website. However, it’s not easy to see this link, so many people won’t click it.

This is important because you want people to see the list on other websites to come back to your website and not back to List.ly.

The title of the list and/or branded image displayed at the top of the list should be a clickable link to bring you back to your website.

links to website

Your name gets linked back to List.ly and the second link appears as a tiny icon next to the title. This is similar to how Wikipedia displays links.

Analyticsa much better analytics module should be available to the list owner. For example, it would be useful to see how many unique people saw the list and a graph displaying statistics related to views and votes.

Private listit would be great to be able to create a private list so you can restrict it to relevant groups.

There is very limited help available on the site. Some of the features are not explained sufficiently. For example, there is a point score for each user, but no explanation of how these are calculated or the benefit of them.

The Verdict

It’s clear that List.ly has a lot of potential.

It’s not going to be a complete replacement, as there are some lists that are just not suitable for List.ly, such as personal opinions or lists that are not fluid and instead reflect the situation at a certain point in time. In these cases, you may not want anyone to add to or vote for items on the list.

So while this product has some great features, there are still some improvements that would make List.ly even better.

But in its current form, it’s a very useful tool to build collaborative lists and is certainly worth trying out.

What do you think? Why don’t you set up a list and give it a try? Please leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Ian Cleary

Ian Cleary is the social media tools guy for Social Media Examiner and founder of Razorsocial. Download his guide on using tools to increase traffic and shares on your content. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Corina-Popescu/1311014561 Corina Popescu

    I agree with this.
    Plus, I would recommend another great Facebook contest application.
    You can see it here: http://www.social-media-contests.com/

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    cool article! At this point, my blog posts are more “show” notes from my podcast episodes, but I do hope to start posting “real” blog posts sometime soon. I am sure a lot of bloggers will appreciate the tips you have included in this article Ian. Keep up the good work! 

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Thank you John,  I really appreciate your feedback.  You have some great podcasts!  You could always have a list of your top podcasts voted by your community!  All the best Ian

  • http://www.facebook.com/wanna.be.with.you.forever Devesh Verma

    Great Article.

    Ian, I think you demonstrated each and every point very beautifully.

    I hope they will quickly modify few changes (recommended by Ian) in list.ly.

    As a person related to digital marketing i think the post is very useful for me but superb for all bloggers.

    Thanks Ian for sharing such a wonderful information….:)

  • Henry Blaufox

    Nick Kellet, the one behind List.ly, presented it to us here at DragonSearch a few months back. We’ve been working with it since then in our social media marketing practice, to good effect.

  • http://phylliskhare.com/ Phyllis Khare

    I was getting all excited and trying to figure out when to schedule time to create a few Lists until I read the drawbacks! Now I’m not sure if I want to take the time. Do you think it is still worth it considering the current limitations?

  • http://boomylabs.com/ Shyam Subramanyan

    Ian, thank you for the review – we could not have pointed out the benefits of Listly any better!  We are working on pretty much everything you’ve pointed out under room for improvement and fairly close to getting them out to users.  Some of the features will be premium.  We are excited about the growing traction and a strong community that drives our growth.

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Hey Phyllis, Absolutely give it a go. Setting up the lists takes very little time and well worth doing.  The more I played with the lists the more value I could see they bring.   My previous life was in the software industry and there’s no product that doesn’t need enhancements but the features that it has right now make it well worth trying out!!! Plus the enhancements are under way, see comment from Shyam below.
    Let me know how you get on, Ian

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    You’re welcome Devesh.  Glad you enjoyed it.   List.ly are quickly rolling out new features so there’s a couple the above already on it’s way!

  • http://www.joywebservices.com/ Soumitra

    Fantastic Tool, I never knew this kind of tool, You don’t know how valuable your services are , SME. Any way 1 question :- Without the featured section , how do you propose the use to build a list ?

     

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Hi Shyam,  thank you so much for your response.  That’s great that you are already working on some of the enhancements listed above.  The more I used the tool the more I got to like it and see the benefits of using it.  The additional features will be great.  Ian

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  • http://www.denisewakeman.com DeniseWakeman

    I’ve been using List.ly for a couple of months and really like it. Both Nick and Shyam have been super responsive when I’ve had questions and I’m happy to see that they’re working on the recommendations you’ve laid out. My biggest list has 378 items: The BIG Brag About Your Blog List: http://denisewakeman.com/business-blogging-2/celebrate-blogging/

  • http://www.onlinemarketingstratega.com Anastasia

    Thank you. I’m going to try it right now. Will create a list of best grammar checkers.

  • http://boomylabs.com/ Shyam Subramanyan

    There are quite a few education/tech related lists on listly.  For example, check out lists by @ipadsammy here – http://list.ly/people/ipadsammy and @techchef4u here – http://list.ly/people/techchef4u

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Wow, that’s a big list!  Thanks for your feedback Denise.

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Great, we love to see action!!!

  • http://www.tallcurlybiscuit.com/ Ang at Tall Curly Biscuit

    I’m super excited about this and see lots of potential uses for it on my humor blog. Thanks!

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Hey Soumitra, thanks for your comment. Can you explain what you would like to do in more detail and I’ll try to help, All the best, Ian

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    That’s great Henry. Thank you for the feedback. Ian

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    That’s great news.  I’m really glad you found it helpful.  Ian

  • http://twitter.com/MemphisMarly @MemphisMarly

    List.ly is just the tool I’ve been wishing for! And, Shyam, I’m glad to hear that y’all are receptive to suggestions. One feature I would love to see would be a draft mode, so that my lists would not be visible before they’re ready for prime time. Thanks for listening!

  • Robyn

    Hi, Ian!  Great article.  Will you post an update when the enhancements come out? And wow, a comment from Denise Wakeman is worth a lot—you are one lucky guy!

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Thank you Robyn!!  I understand that some of these features are in beta and launching soon i.e. Being able to have a private list, restrictions on adding on the list and options to hide items until they are moderated. Any further updates I’ll pass on!  All the best, Ian.

  • http://LouiseM.com/ Louise Myers

    I’ve used List.ly twice. It’s a lot of fun and gets good traffic. The one thing I quickly learned was to moderate additions to the list, as I got only irrelevant spam. I didn’t even realize these are visible while waiting for moderation. That for sure needs to be addressed! Thanks Ian.

  • http://www.thenerdynurse.com/ The Nerdy Nurse

    but what if listly goes kaput?
    Then you’ve lost all the guts of your list posts.
    I also wonder how an embedded list would impact SEO, since it’s no residing your site, google won’t see it as yours.

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Hey Louise, thanks for your feedback.  I was told by the listly guys that the ‘hidden’ moderation feature is in beta so on it’s way soon!   All the best, Ian

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Thanks for your feedback.  We would always recommend you back up data for any third party company you work with.  The SEO value depends on how you display your list.  List.ly provides a WordPress plugin that you can use.  If you use this instead of an iframe the data will be recognized on your site by google. Ian

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Thanks for your reply and great feedback!

  • http://www.justkickingitblog.com/ Just Kicking It

    Great Post

  • http://red-robot.net/ Claire Broadley

    Interesting article – I can see this being useful in some of my freelance blogging assignments.
    I would like to echo the comment from The Nerdy Nurse, above; what happens if List.ly changes its format in future? And does the content it serves count as duplicate content at all?

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Thank you, I glad you enjoyed it.  Ian

  • http://www.odothemes.com/ Odothemes

    Thx for this article Ian.

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Your welcome.  Thanks for your comment. Ian

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dave-MacKay/100002875291785 Dave MacKay

    I had no idea that there was such a service, you have really described it well, made it easy for someone to use it right away, Thank you

  • http://www.ClickMillionaires.com/ Scott Fox, Click Millionaires

    What an interesting tool.

    Thanks for sharing this detailed write-up, Ian.

    Looks like something worth trying and I’m sure our community would enjoy the interactivity.

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Hey Scott, thanks for your reply and I’m really glad you find it interesting.  I hope your community enjoys it also!  All the best, Ian

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Hi Dave,  thank you so much for the feedback. I really appreciate your comments. Ian

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Hi Claire, it’s worth trying out and if your lists are successful then you could consider how they are backed up.  A list is generally within a blog post that contains other content that is original and that would help significantly.  Ian

  • http://nickkellet.com/ Nick Kellet

    I made a list to say Thankyou to all of the 750+ Social Media Examiner readers that shared this post

    http://list.ly/list/24s-thanks-you-to-social-media-examiner

    We has a massive day yesterday and today with new lists and publisher key signs up.

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Hi Nick,  thank you so much, it’s great to profile the people that tweeted out about listly!  Very happy that you guys had a great day yesterday and to-day.  Ian

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Cool! Thank you, Nick! I hope to see some more great lists :)

  • http://nickkellet.com/ Nick Kellet

    We get asked this question from time to time.

    We commit to offering every list as an HTML backup, but were here for long haul.

    With the WordPress plugin the list is definitely seen  as yours (and an integral part of your post). better yet it keeps changing, which keeps your posts fresh and accurate.

  • http://nickkellet.com/ Nick Kellet

    Thanks Henry:) 

  • http://nickkellet.com/ Nick Kellet

    Great list Anastasia , thanks :) You got lots of people voting in it already.

    http://list.ly/list/23v-best-grammar-checkers?feature=search

  • http://nickkellet.com/ Nick Kellet

    Thanks Louise:) 

  • http://nickkellet.com/ Nick Kellet

    Thanks Claire. I replied above about our commitment to offer an HTML backup of lists. The content is not duplicated. You share comments and votes. 

    We expect to offer more formats in the future as we really are a publishing platform, but they will be optional. We’re very sensitive to fitting in to your exising blog designs. 

    Lists are also responsive. They adjust intelligently to the space you give them. 

  • mattmassaro

    I just signed up for list.ly a few hours ago and then saw this post! Interesting article I will try making some lists and embedding them soon. http://northsandiego.org

  • Tom Localseorankingservices

    Ian, my pleasure to share. It is something every blogger should know that lists draw more readers, this tool just takes it to the next level.

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Hi Tom, thanks for you feedback.  I really appreciate your comment.  You’re right about lists, they are very popular!  Ian

  • Suetownsend4u

    thanks for the information I have a blog but it is not connected to a website other than it being free on wordpress  will this work on a blog that is not connected to a website? this is really good news I can use. also the facebook app too. thanks you both of you.

  • http://twitter.com/Sueyq4u Susan (Sueyq)

    sorry my comment is above suetownsend. I guess I put in the wrong email.

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Hi Susan, yes you can include it on a wordpress blog.  Thank you so much for your feedback.  I hope you get great value out of your lists!  All the best, Ian

  • http://www.hisocial.com/ Hisocial

    I have a question for you, don’t you think, from a SEO point of view, that using this type of embedded scripts is a big problem for your site? (given that the content it’s not on your site)

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Thanks for your feedback.  It depends on how you place the content. The best option is to use the WordPress plugin.  Ian

  • Saumitra M Ghotikar

     Just do not look at the limitations, just start, and you will find how wonderful it is. The best part is :- It’s very straight & dead simple, even the dashboard is very simple, not many options.

    The adding own image feature should be here , but at least afterwards we can add that, and a built-in search-what a great utility

  • Saumitra M Ghotikar

     thanks for a great product shyam. I am commenting after a week , so you can count on I am doing after doing actually

  • Saumitra M Ghotikar

     thats great tip

  • Saumitra M Ghotikar

    thanks ian. I understand that aweber integration is a future feature. Till then , can I use this for bilding up a list ? Suggestions ?

  • Saumitra M Ghotikar

     I just visited your list denise. Initially I was thinking you have supplied your blog-link. Then saw the list.ly and again noticed , that you have used the “Embedding” option on wordpress. Great tool.

    Also I liked your idea of listing all Bloggers…great.

  • Saumitra M Ghotikar

     Shyam & Ian , please advise me on a point :- To get people to my blog, is it required that I should create my own fresh list OR is it fine if I just join an existing list & start curating or adding ?

  • Saumitra M Ghotikar

    Thanks for this suggestion. I started a list, and someone added some spammy content. I was thinking of adding a moderation. Thanks, I’m doing that right now.

  • Saumitra M Ghotikar

    I am waiting for your feedback on ian & Nicks comments

  • Saumitra M Ghotikar

     i liked the idea. Similarly we can also make a list of top commenters etc…

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Hi Saumitra, thank you for your feedback. We really appreciate it.  Ian

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Hey Saumitra,  If you wanted to build email subscribers you could have your subscription boxes alongside the list until this feature is officially released. Thanks for your feedback. Ian

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Hey Matt, thank you for your feedback. I hope your lists are very successful!  Ian

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