3 Ways to Use Ranked Lists for Brand Audience Engagement


What branded content format are you? To date, listicles and personality quizzes have been the formats of choice for brand publishers seeking to tap into the engagement and viral potential of PlayBuzz’s authoring tools. However, with 2015 now underway, we’ve rolled out a new format that is already emerging as a worthy companion to the others.

It’s called the “ranked list,” and it allows audience members to up-vote, down-vote and comment on a randomly generated sequence of items uploaded by the publisher. The ranked list format draws upon the super-sticky engagement interface of social media channels like Reddit, Disqus and Quora, enabling publishers to create user community-sequenced listicles with Facebook-powered commenting threads for each item. For example, check out TheBlaze’s “Rank These 10 Wild Glenn Beck Moments from 2014.”


What Makes Ranked Lists So Powerful for Publishers

Want to know what your audience prefers out of a bunch of options? Publishing a ranked list can be a great way to find out. Want to know why peoples’ preferences are what they are? Ranked lists allow them to debate their options publicly. It’s an even more engaging way to inspire audience members to share their likes, dislikes, the reasons for these feelings, and to enlist their peers to chime in too.

Ranked lists combine the influence boost of branded content publishing with the audience empowerment impact of up-voting and down-voting platforms. So far we’ve seen some amazing implementations of the format from brands that really know how to maximize engagement.

Here are three different ways that you can use ranked lists to get your audience interacting with you and each other.

1. Fans’ Choice Awards

Media consumers turn to authority brands so they can see what these gatekeepers say is cool and what isn’t. The Grammy Awards don’t tell viewers what the coolest or best music of the year actually is – the awards tell us what the music industry sees as being the most noteworthy. We turn to media criticism aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes because we care what the professional tastemakers think.


But as audience members, we also get a kick out of opportunities to exclaim, “What?!? These guys think that’s the most useful mobile app of the year? Really?” Brands can easily leverage this sentiment to inspire interaction via ranked lists. For every published list that’s been curated by your brand’s “editorial board,” a companion ranked list can enable audience members to have their voices heard.

For an awesome example of this in action, check out MTV’s new “Best of 2014” content section, which includes both static listicles curated by MTV staff and corresponding ranked lists with hundreds of thousands of audience up-votes and down-votes.

Even celebrities have gotten in on the engagement opportunities of MTV’s ranked lists.

2. What’s Up Next

Marketers seeking to maximize audience resonance are constantly on the hunt for new ways to find out what people want. Do you know what your most rabid fans are hoping you’ll publish next?

With a ranked list, it’s easy to find out. You can simply out up all the finalists and ask. This is audience empowerment at its best, as you can pledge to actually move forward with the item that gets the most up-votes at the end of the voting period. It’s like a poll, but far more playful and engaging.


And in the age of agile digital product development, this method of surveying user opinion is even more useful. Instead of trolling your product forums to try and assess demand for new features, you can simply put out a call for rankings and keep tabs on the tallies.

3. Top Community Submissions

Ranked lists have huge potential as platforms for powering user-generated content contests. Ask your audience to submit their own content to you via email, and once you’ve picked your five or 20 favorites, you can publish synopses and screenshots as a ranked list for your user community to vote on. The items with the most votes can earn prizes, which can even include being published on your brand’s various properties.


This is a great way to control the submissions open for voting and to give super-fans even more motivation to become brand ambassadors.

The Prospect of Being Heard

Media consumers want the tastemakers they trust to care about what super-fans have to say too. And the sentiment is mutual, with media brand marketers yearning for insights into what their audience members truly care about. With ranked lists, everybody wins.

These are just a few of the ways that publishers can leverage ranked lists for valuable audience interactions. We can’t wait to see what else our community of creators comes up with.

Ready to create a ranked list yourself? Go on and give it a whirl. And if you’d like to start working with more cool formats and features we’re working on, please send your request to join our premium publisher early access program to feedback@playbuzz.com.

About the author

Brock Kaye

Playbuzz’s VP of business development, Brock joined the team in the fall of 2014, following stints as the executive VP of Curiyo and the VP of business development at Conduit. He’s a big fan of internet disruption. Brock grew up in New York and currently lives in Israel. According to one highly authoritative Playbuzz quiz , he’s “pretty psychopathic.” You can email Brock at publisherscommunity@playbuzz.com.

Thanks for signing up!