Image Credit: WIRED

WTF is Medium’s New “Series” Feature, and What Does It Mean For Us?

I’m sure we’ve all been wondering, WTF is the new Series feature we’re seeing on our Medium mobile app? I know I was.

[Note: For more info and a quick demo, look at the Medium Series Product Hunt page here.]

Earlier today, I logged onto my Medium account to find a drop-down button I had never seen before. It was called “Series”, and I was instantly intrigued…

I’m sure we’ve all seen this by now, but here’s a screenshot of what the feature looks like on our mobile feed:

After some research, toying around with the feature and creating my own Series, I think WIRED (article here) still puts it best when they said the following:

The easiest way to explain Series is this: It’s Snapchat Stories, except they don’t expire after 24 hours and you can’t swipe down to open a link. — David Pierce of WIRED

I’m sure we’re all thinking: what does this all mean for Medium?

Here are some of my thoughts, and I would love to hear yours in the comment section!

A new kind of storytelling

Medium Series ushers in integration with 360 degree filmmaking (as seen by the Tilt feature). The un-rehearsed, casual nature of Series also could mix well with live streaming, a sub-genre which is exploding all across social media.

Most importantly though is that, unlike a Medium Story, a Medium Series does not have to end when the last word is read! This could be an absolute game-changer for writers if utilized properly.
Imagine being able to document the growth of your company from the ground up, your road trip across the country, or your four years at college all by adding new “episodes” to your Medium Series?

Ca$h Moneyyyyyy!

We all know about Medium’s struggle to find a healthy business model.

With this new form of storytelling, more influencers will (hopefully) be attracted to Medium in addition to big brands and publishers. And wherever these folks go, the money follows shortly after.

Influencer marketing has made a huge splash in the marketing world recently, and 2017 is pitted to follow the same trajectory. By making Medium more fun, interactive, and visual the platform could begin to attract a wider audience as well as more Snapchat/Instagram focused influencers.

Lastly, with Medium’s announcement that they will be releasing a paid subscription model sometime soon, Medium Series could very well become a feature users will need to “unlock” by subscribing to premium.

Attracting a wider audience for Medium

Despite the appeal Series could have for all users and writers on Medium, one could make the argument that it deviates from Medium’s scholarly and solemn (for lack of a better word) brand. The fact that my Series are getting “Claps” as opposed to “Recommends” illustrates this point quite plainly.

I know there will be a ton of people who begin complaining and asking why Medium is becoming more juvenile.But remember, in order to thrive in a landscape as cutthroat as social media, Medium needs to attract a wider audience. Plain and simple. If they do not then brands, agencies, and influencers may not stay on the platform long.

By including a fun feature like Series, Medium is opening the floodgates for Snapchatters and Instagrammers everywhere to gravitate over to Medium.

Making Medium more mobile-friendly

The internet is skewing towards mobile each and every day.

By making Medium more mobile-friendly, the app won’t just attract younger audiences, but also more immersive storytelling all around! Series opens up the floodgates for journalists everywhere to include their first-person accounts of protests, of court-side sports interviews, and more.

Proof of a consolidating market

Ev has been on the record for being a fan of apps like Hardbound. He’s even featured on the company’s own website.

Hardbound Home Page

In a world run by Zuck cloning products left and right, why acquire a startup when you can just make your own version of the product yourself?

Note: I’m not saying Ev maliciously copied or cloned the product here, but I am wondering if he was inspired to create Series after witnessing the traction of such startups?

There have also been other startups like Comma who have a product similar to Hardbound and Medium Series.


The bottomline

This could very well be Ev Williams’ response to a world dominated by Instagram Stories, Snapchat Stories, and other forms of first-person, serial storytelling. By adding this inherently visual feature to the text-heavy platform we all know and love, Ev has positioned Medium as more than a stream of blog posts and a hub for hobbyist readers — he’s positioned Medium as a forward-thinking, indispensable storytelling experience.

Is it perfect yet? Hell no. In fact, it took me three restarts on my Android for the feature to even work.

Could it turn off some of Medium’s native users? Potentially yes. For many, Medium is a place to read countless articles from writers we love — it’s a refreshing experience relative to social media platforms that require more touch-points (Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, etc.).

But I do think it’s a huge step in the right direction, and if we want Medium to survive in the consolidating tech market we live in, then we’ll have to strap ourselves in and get ready for a fun but bumpy ride.

Let’s see how it all plays out! If you couldn’t tell already, I’m fucking STOKED for the direction Medium is going.



In the comment section: What do you think about all of this? Are you excited about Medium Series, pissed, or somewhere in between?


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