So what is this thing called Medium?
An intro for CKer’s into this amazing platform.
By Adam Baliban — Sr. Digital Strategist
Medium is a network of individuals who read and write, share viewpoints and help push ideas forward.
So it’s a blog?
Sort of. A blog is a centralized destination where a company or individual shares their thoughts and insights — Medium shifts the paradigm and allows for blog content to become part of a much larger conversation.
It’s a publication network where anyone is able to share their ideas with long-form content in a social-media-type environment. Because of its network construction, content creators now have an already plugged-in audience to share and appreciate their work. With Medium, you no longer have to worry about finding ways to influence how someone consumes media (“click here”, “visit this”, “check it out”). They simply just have to show up with something interesting to share — the audience already exists.
Let’s use an analogy to further explain:
Say you’re a musician (content creator) and you are trying to get your music the attention it deserves.
You constantly gig at venues (centralized content distributors) and aren’t having that great of luck. You know your music is unique and full of potential, but having to ask friends and family to come to your shows all the time is extremely laborious. Plus, if your music (content) is continually played to the same audience, sooner or later you’ll start to see a decline in attendance. The distribution of your content is greatly dependent upon how much promotion you put against it, and even then, it’s not sustainable.
Blogs and websites are just like the music venues you’ve been struggling at, most people normally wouldn’t visit them unless they had some type of incentive or are drawn specifically to that type of content. It’s disruptive to their normal routine.
The creators of Medium (two founders of Twitter, Ev Williams and Biz Stone) noticed this issue and created a place where all types of content, ideas and points of view would be aggregated and, in turn, would make the consumption of media more streamlined.
Back to the analogy, if blogs and company sites are centralized music venues, then Medium is a music festival (Coachella, GovBall). In other words, your music (content) is just another piece of a much larger experience.
Not only do you get to play your music to your friends and family, but passers-by.
People who have no idea what you are about will have easy access to the content you put out. Their experience of visiting a music festival is not disrupted by paying attention to your music, but rather enhanced — that’s the main difference.
It sounds almost like a Social Network.
Medium likes to refer to itself as a Social Publishing Platform. It has aspects similar to a social network; you can like (recommend), comment and share content with your connections, as well as a news feed similar to Facebook and Twitter.
However, Medium is built to rank content based on its quality only (comments, recommends, likes), and not the popularity of its author or how recent it was published. Articles are curated by the staff of Medium to ensure only the best articles reach the top of your feed. It’s built upon a similar algorithm that Facebook and Twitter are already taking advantage of — serving up content that is relevant to the consumer, not content that is most recent. (Although, now you do have an option to categorize by “Top” and “Latest” stories.)
How can I customize my experience?
You sign up to Medium through your Twitter or Facebook account. It determines what type of content you would enjoy based on the content you currently follow on your other social networks. All pieces of content on Medium are sorted thematically.
Medium looks different than most sites. It has a simple design.
AND NO ADVERTISEMENTS! (banners, popups and pre-roll be gone!)
Not only is it extremely easy and intuitive to write in, adding in media is a cinch. You can add video, pictures, and any other type of media. See what the CEO Ev Williams has to say about Medium in his interview with CNN Money this past January.
Okay, I’m getting sold here. Any other examples to show me how cool it is to be on Medium?
Well, there are a lot of great things to experience on Medium, below is a list that outlines the types of qualities successful stories should have, and an example for each.
- Offer a Fresh Perspective The McDonald’s Theory — Describes a new tactic for settling decisions or throwing out brainstorm ideas, in the office or otherwise
- Be Authentic When I’m Gone — Tragic tale of a lost loved one whose advice lived on after them
- Provide Something of Value 7 Things You Need to Stop Doing to be More Productive — Listicle focused on maximizing productivity in daily life
- Show Your Passion Why Can’t We Read Anymore? — A book lover asks “Can books save us from what digital has done to our brains?”
- Be Current / Timely The Case for Hillary — A look into the Democratic nominees and what they stand for
Medium — what it means for PR.
The first thing that should catch your attention is that Medium averages between 25–30 million unique visitors per month.
In addition, well-respected publishers have also started using it. Some familiar ones include:
Other benefits include:
- A way for articles or bylines to gain traction in front of a new and engaged audience
- Additional traffic driver to your website
- A forum for the experts you represent to share their own points of view with like minded individuals (comments on other articles are treated the same as actual posts)
Editors are no longer the gatekeepers. Any article can be published live on Medium and have a high chance of hitting the right audience.
Who is the Medium audience?
Publications and Letters
Medium has an interesting functionality called Publications. With so many people writing their own stories, a Publication on Medium organizes all contributed content under one roof for easy viewing. The overall look is beautiful in its simplicity. Here are some of the most popular:
- The Billfold
- Backchannel (An MSK article was featured here as well)
- Thoughts on Media
- The Cauldron (Created and managed by Sports Illustrated)
Taking this a step further, Medium will now be offering sponsored publications where a brand can attach their name to a collection of similar themed articles by popular Medium users. Check out the example for The Guardian Life Well-Lived.
If you have a great publication, share it with your audience. With Letters, your publication can send newsletters via email to all of your followers.
Medium treats a Letter the same as a post. People can comment on it, highlight passages that are meaningful to them and share with others outside of your network. (and yes, metrics are included in the functionality)
Apply to CK
When you sign up to Medium, you already have an audience. Anyone who follows you on Twitter and also has a Medium account is automatically added as a follower. No one ever starts from zero.
This year, one of our larger initiatives is Thought Leadership. While we’re confident knowing our executive team and senior staff are more than capable of writing amazing content that is share-worthy, we want to make sure that it gets the best exposure available. When limited to only publishing content on a site-owned blog, the potential audience that can be exposed to great work is significantly diminished (go back to the starving artist analogy). With a CooperKatz publication on Medium, this limitation doesn’t exist.
Medium is exponential in terms of awareness. Not only would a CK publication have its own set of followers, but everyone who contributes to the publication also has their own set of followers. One post from a CK staffer or a client would notify at least two types of audiences automatically, CK’s and the contributors. Multiple writers equal multiple audience types.
So why start from square one when you’re already a VIP? Medium is an amazing platform, and when used correctly, can do the heavy lifting of self-promotion for you.