Everyone is a Content Marketer

How should you tell your story?

Caden Damiano
From the Desktop of Caden Damiano


What is Medium Series?

You could say they are mediums version of a story, much like Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram each have their own version of the mobile-first full-screen format.

I say that it isn’t.

Here’s a promotional video showing off the core feature set of Instagram stories:

If you didn’t take the time to watch it, let me give you a low down on how they work.

The trigger to view an Instagram story is a profile circle on the top of the main page of the app:

What you see are the random moments of your friends days:

These full screen frames are only available for 24 hours. So essentially they are there to show off the days of the people you follow. You can doodle on it, share your location, tag other friends in the frame or type out captions on them to give context to why you posted the picture.

You have to admit, Instagram stories are a great way to broadcast to your audience what is going on the day of, and the following feature set is geared toward sharing a location by pinning the location name on the screen, sharing a moment by tagging your friends handles, or using AR filters to make funny short videos. But let’s call it for what it is: a feature to capture moments.

Now, you can hack this feature by doing things like editing a video to fit the aspect ratio of the screen so you can make well produced clips.

Some creators will edit a video in portrait mode and add animated captions in after effects. The process to get them on Instagram is cumbersome because you eventually have to send the exported video to your phone so it can be posted.

Just recently, Adobe released Premiere Rush to allow for quick turn around for Instagram stories:

One small tweak to a setting and you have portrait aspect ratio in your video. There are also animated caption presets you can throw on it to quickly prep content for delivery.

The invention of Premiere Rush shows the obvious need for streamlined production of social media content. Especially for stories. They disappear after 24 hours so you are constantly needing to turn out fresh content as fast as possible.

Recently there was an update that allows you to have a collection of stories that you find in the profile page of any user. The trigger looks like this:

How the collections work is that whenever you have a really good moment that you don’t want to disappear after a day, you can save it to these collections and they will be there forever.

Instagram influencers can use this feature to save things like poll results, FAQ’s, sales pitches, and testimonials in one place that can be chunked out and consumed on a mobile screen.

If you think about it, it is a clever way to replace a website or sale pages with well designed content to help sell a brand.

Rome abroad has a robust collection of stories to document engagement and answer questions of profile visitors.

Medium Series

Now, let’s look at a promotional video for Medium Series:

Now if you haven’t took the time to watch this video, here is the gist of stories.

They are essentially endless essays. You write out a thought on the card, and then you can add imagery to that card or on the cards in between thoughts.

If you follow someone, you can get notified when they update their series.

The value proposition is that it is a when inspiration strikes, you can add to a series so all followers can see the updates as they are released. It’s a product that serializes essays. You can binge read a series or wait until the next release.

Unlike Instagram they can be composed on the desktop:

Start on the desktop, continue on mobile.

The full implications of how this medium of storytelling are not fully fleshed out yet, but think of it like this: instead of capturing moments like a story, you are capturing ideas as they come up in the authors head.

The trigger is currently not on the mobile app like the video says. I have no idea how to navigate to a series right now from the home screen of the medium mobile app.

In order to navigate to a series, you have to pull up the profile of a Medium member to see any series they have made.

What this tell’s me is that how series are consumed are not the same as how an instagram story is consumed.

Instagram stories, in order to be successful, need to be pumped out consistently to get traction. This is not the case with Medium series.

You are following ideas, not moments when you subscribe to a series on medium. Instagram stories can connect a brand with the individual, but as far as I can see, Medium still focuses on connecting individual with other individuals. My argument for this? If you go to a publication, you can’t make a series there:

Series are for personal accounts, but not publications.

So stories can be used by instagram business accounts to promote a brand, but series are only tools in the hands of individual thinkers who can take their time to really think about an idea before shipping it.

Instagram stories need a robust production schedule to get great traction, Medium articles and series can be released as inspiration strikes and at the pace the author prefers and will get traction based on the merit of the idea.

So, when is it the best time to use either?

Both platforms are great for driving business, but both are not created equally.

Just recently there was a graph released showing that instagram will be the future cash cow of Facebook advertising revenue.

Source: Andy Hargreaves, CFA, Equity Research Analyst with KeyBanc Capital Markets

This indicates one thing: the user base that is comfortable with spending money online (aka millennials) is predominantly on the instagram platform and clicking on advertising.

I met a fellow designer at a conference who buys most of her clothing through instagram stores.

So if you are a brand that sells products or services, I’d spend most of my time on instagram. Because millennial are starting to make enough money to spend online if the content is compelling enough to get them to buy.

Here’s how I see Medium Series being used: Since brands cannot fully leverage them, like they can leverage stories, I’d suggest they be used for an individual trying to establish expertise. Like a freelancer or consultant.

Medium is a place to be discovered as a clear thinker. Why not use it to show off ongoing case studies for your product portfolio?

Imagine this:

You have a big enough following from potential clients and you use series to document a long term project you are working on. They get to follow you every step of the way and are notified when you update the case study. At the end of the project they might want to buy your services. Even better, while you are updating the series with the results of your project, they all fight to hire you! Good stuff right?

I’m just spitballing here, but instagram still has better attention share for businesses than series do. The fact that series do not have a place on the main screen of the mobile app means that they are not discoverable unless you want to follow an individual.

Caden Damiano is a User Experience Designer based in the Silicon Slopes. He loves Brazilian Jiujitsu, reading voraciously and is active in the Utah design community.



Caden Damiano
From the Desktop of Caden Damiano

Host of “The Way of Product Design” Podcast owner of "The Way of Product" Innovation Studio