Not Sure What To Write About This Year? Let Our Data Be Your Guide.

Photo by G. Crescoli on Unsplash

Our winning topics on Medium last year: the art of writing, millennial case studies, breaking news, and Trump. We also had some clunkers.

by Todd Lombardo

When we started publishing on Medium in the fall of 2016, we had zero followers and no promotional budget. We didn’t know if we’d get any readers, but we knew we had something to say.

Our focus was Modern Media Culture. We really did (and do) believe the way people interact with media has changed forever, and not everyone has woken up to this new reality. For example, people today have much more control over what content they see — and avoid. They can block ads, skip ads, or watch a show in an ad-free environment.

As a brand, that’s scary stuff if you’re not ready for it.

So we started writing. About Netflix. About chatbots. About millennial brands living on Facebook. We wrote about podcasts (and recorded our own), about why everything is “social,” about how brands have to think like marketers and think like media companies.

We got our first one thousand followers, and then our next thousand. We felt encouraged by the likes, shares, comments and claps. Sometimes we got picked up by publications like Chatbotslife, Art + Marketing, or Bullshitist.

We also used the data to understand what people wanted to read about. Today, we’ll share some of that with you. Maybe that will be helpful to you as you think about what to write about in 2018.

These five articles made up our most-read articles of the year, each garnering between 1,000 and 3,500+ views:

#1 Zeitgeist Article: Fact Checking in the Age of Receipts

Photo credit: Derober

Published on November 8, 2016, this was our first story to gain a large audience. We had been fascinated how a politician could contradict previous statements on social media and get away with it. Looking back, it seems quaint now; we were not yet ready for echo chambers and fake news, which has challenged America to take it upon themselves to ask, what is really true?

#1 Most Read, Most Commented, Most Applauded: The Internet Is Killing The Art of Writing. Or Is It?

Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

The success of this article was also probably our biggest surprise. Tim had an idea to write about missing letter-writing. It morphed into this article, and really struck a nerve, getting thousands of views. Many readers perceived that writing as an art had gotten lost in an age of Facebook posts, Instagram Stories and 140 characters. Some disagreed, stating that “words were words.” And some didn’t like our attempt to understand the advertising angle at all.

#1 Case Study: How Revolve Proves Influencer Marketing Works

Photo credit: Revolve

Influencer marketing has always been a thing; its the inspiration behind the original celebrity endorsement. In 2018, it also means digital influencers promoting your brand, and/or featuring your products in their own videos and posts. Influencers are an important part of the marketing mix today: they often have large-scale reach of a very engaged group, and often bring an authenticity to brand efforts (even if it’s risky to partner: see Logan Paul last week). Fashion and beauty brand Revolve caught Kylie’s eye with their innovative social efforts, and so she wrote about it. Readers really like to know how brands do what they do.

#1 News Coverage: A Break-up Letter to Snapchat

Snapchat’s IPO was March 2, 2017, and we just had to write about it. At the time, the conventional wisdom was: you just gotta be on Snapchat, because it’s the coolest app for millennials. Kylie could not have disagreed more. So what did she do? She took on conventional wisdom and stated the opposite position, building an argument about why she was a much bigger fan of Instagram. Kylie was onto something: flash forward to Snap Inc.’s Q3 earnings miss and you can see why.

#1 Technology: This Article Was Written By A Computer

Photo by Dominik Scythe on Unsplash

I wanted to write about Artificial Intelligence. And I was running out of time. What if I could get AI to write my article for me? That’s exactly what I did, and the results spoke for themselves. This article really struck a nerve in that it brought to life a concrete example of something that seemed out of science fiction, and something that a lot of writers were fearful of.

We also had some posts that didn’t get much attention on Medium.

These included:

— When we published somewhere else first, like in Advertising Age, and republished it on Medium later.

— When we’d post our podcasts and publish show notes here. They do well for a start-up podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud. On Medium — not so much.

— Lots of our earlier articles, before we had many followers. Lesson here: keep plugging away, you will become a better writer by writing.

As we plan for 2018, we can’t guarantee every article will be a “hit,” but we can promise that we will continue to explore the angles of Modern Media Culture that fascinate us.

So to every reader: thank you. Our writing is a labor of love and your clicks were our guide.

Does your inner Hemingway want to guest-write for us? Email me at todd.lombardo@mistress.agency.

Todd Lombardo is a Digital Strategist and Editor at Mistress.