There’s quite a lot of attention amongst writerly, social-mediarly and marketingerly circles at the moment about the relatively new blogging platform Medium. Have you heard of it?
In was launched way back in 2012 by two of the founders of Twitter, and has gradually gained in popularity since then (it now has a Domain Authority of 84, which is a pretty good indicator of its place amongst us, especially since it’s been less than 4 years since its launch).
In case you’re arriving (fashionably) late to the party (as I was), let me give you a short, explanatory introduction to the platform.
What Is Medium?
The platform describes itself as follows:
“A better place to read and write things that matter, Medium is a new place on the Internet where people share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters and not just for friends. It’s designed for little stories that make your day better and manifestos that change the world.”
At first glance, Medium seems to be little more than yet another blogging site – something along the lines of WordPress or Tumblr. But, whilst Medium of course owes a huge debt to the blogging traditions that have come before it, upon deeper engagement you quickly realise that it actually breaks a lot of the ‘rules’ of blog publishing, especially in structure.
Let’s think about how blogging works for a moment.
The blog is in a constant state of update. Blogs are organised in reverse chronological order, which is to say that new blogs always sit on top of the page, and the older ones below.
Here’s how Anil Dash describes it:
“Blogs have had prominent timestamps on each post since the turn of the century, and the newest content has always sat on top of a stream since the form was born. As a result, even casual readers understand an implicit promise from the blogger that more content will appear in the future, and the expectation changes the nature of reading what’s written.
“The promise of updates to a blog has positive impacts, in that it assumes some literacy and persistence and an ongoing relationship on the part of a reader. But it’s also been the biggest cause of stress for bloggers; Having to keep updating is seen as an overwhelming obligation by many, and the requirement of newest-on-top has frustrated countless bloggers who want to assign some semblance of editorial judgment (or simply want to inflict their authorial authority) on behalf of readers.”
This reverse chronology is not peculiar to blogging, of course – your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest feeds all employ reverse chronology.
But Medium does things differently.
How Medium Organises Content
Much like Reddit, Medium gives priority of placement over the best posts, as is discerned by Medium’s algorithm.
The algorithm itself takes many things into account to determine the merit of a post, as Ev Williams, who helped create Twitter and Blogger and co-founded Medium with Biz Stone, explains:
“What we’re doing is ordering things by our best guess of the relative quality/interestingness of the different items—according to the people who have seen them. […] It’s not a direct popularity ranking. It takes in a variety of factors, including whether or not a post seems to actually have been read (not just clicked on) and whether people click the “Recommend” button at the bottom of posts. The ratio of people who view it who read it and who read it and recommend it are important factors, not just the number. (This is an attempt to level of the playing field for those who don’t already have large followings and/or a penchant for writing click-bait headlines.)”
Marketing On Medium –Some Food For Thought
So, Medium prioritises quality over dates, and thusly subverts the reverse chronology convention of blogging. This means that the most visible content that you put on Medium won’t necessarily be the newest, but it will be the best.
This has some immediate advantages, of course. People who discover your brand on Medium will most likely do so via the very best content associated with it – and, after all, first impressions count. Furthermore, if you’re new to the social media marketing world, then utilising Medium will alleviate the pressure of having to come up with a brand new blog post on a bi-weekly or even daily basis. It’s quite possible to position yourself as a thought leader on Medium even you haven’t got the time or resources to commit to a regular blog. Just so long as your posts are decent, then they’ll get seen without you having to invest time in distribution.
In addition, Medium sorts posts (known as ‘stories’) into themed collections, which means that your work will always be put in front of your target audience – when you sign up to Medium, you indicate what type of content interests you, which is then displayed for your convenience.
But the downside, of course, comes in the fact you lose control of what content gets prioritised and discovered. Indeed, it is for this reason that many bloggers use it as a secondary platform – i.e. one that they choose only to post re-purposed content from their actual blog, and not a place where they publish actual original content per se. Of course, this poses the duplicate content SEO problem – but that’s something that you’d have to weigh up against potentially tapping into a brand new audience.
Marketing On Medium – Some Ideas
Ok, so that’s Medium – but how would one go about marketing on such a thing? Well, here’s a few ideas to get you thinking:
Republish Or Repurpose
As mentioned, Medium is popular, and so even if you don’t want to write anything unique, it might be worth republishing your blog posts – or snippets from them – on the platform to tap into a new audience.
Tell your Story Visually
Medium is mainly a platform for the written word, and therefore if you choose to shake things up and get a bit visually creative with your posts, then you’ve got a much better chance at standing out from the crowd. Infographics are always a good idea, but why not make a comic strip or experiment with a few illustrations? Photography, too, is always eye-catching, and the odd graph or pie chart wouldn’t go amiss either.
Link Back To Your Website And Blog
Of course, all social media channels should be used as a means of driving traffic to where it really matters – your website. And so, even if you are repurposing content for Medium, any facts or stats that you include in your stories should link back to your original post on your site. And there’s no stopping ‘Follow us on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/etc.’ calls to action either. It will all help your overall goal of increasing your web presence.
Recommend Others’ Work
Medium is a social medium like any other, so it will pay to be social. Not only will you want to be using the site to publish great content, but you’ll also want to make yourself known as an authority figure who recommends great content to other Medium users as well. In effect, when making recommendations, you are recommending yourself as someone to follow as much as your peers.
Create Great Content!
In the end, the only way to stand out on Medium is to produce brilliant, readable, shareable, and recommendable content. That should always be your primary aim, of course, but, unlike on your other channels, it’s only the really good stuff that will ever get seen.
What are your experiences with Medium? Got any other great tips for our readers? Let us know below.