“We need better content than our competitors,” “We should provide only top-quality content,” and “We must create viral content” are phrases that have the potential to ruin my whole day. If you aren’t a content creator, you are right to consider me crazy. But, if you are a content creator, I’m sure you couldn’t agree with me more. Yeah, the life of a content creator isn’t rosy at all. People need more and more content but at the same time, they are getting pickier. It’s easy to say that the company blog needs more and better content but it’s unbelievably difficult to create a title to attract even more readers.
I have written content and I am subjective; I agree that perhaps I am frustrated, too. Still, I dare to call myself a pragmatic person. For instance, I need clear criteria to label text as “quality content.” Everyone uses the expression “quality content” but a very few have clear standards in this respect. Is social media spreading valid criteria to determine the value of blog posts? Or maybe it is the almighty Google who decides which content is better? If it is in the first position, it should be the best, right?
Others think that the engagement rate is a better criterion for content evaluation. To some extent, I agree with this idea but it’s mandatory to take into account the topic. Could you compare a blog post about the participation of Iceland’s football team in the European Championship with one about WordPress security? You simply can’t compare the enthusiastic Icelanders with the WordPress community.
(Note: I love both groups and I am not from Iceland, but I am planning to visit this year!)
Willing or not, money is important and all of us strive to get more. As a result, why won’t we measure the value of content based on the money generated? The more conversions, the better is the content…sounds fair, doesn’t it?
I can keep up this debate for a long time but that’s not the aim of this post. My desire is to make you look from multiple perspectives when saying “quality content.” The above criteria aren’t wrong, but these heavily rely on the context. Personally, I think that lots of people use the term “quality content” for writing that resonates with them. A content creator is always under pressure – he/she needs to create great, engaging, actionable, useful, converting, appealing, and original content!
Sometimes even the calmest bloggers, writers, or content creators need a place to write only for their pleasure. Without any deadline, conversion rate or any stupid metrics! It sounds crazy but in fact, is quite normal. Even though your job requires standing or physical effort, from time to time you need a walk in the park. The same idea is valid as a writer; sometimes he/she wants to write just to feed the passion. In other words, the men with pens need a place where the words are appreciated and not quantified, the phrases are written from the heart and not for marketing purposes, and the titles are to inform and not to delude.
Evan Williams created a platform called Medium on September 25, 2015, that is aimed at changing our perspective on content. It is not a fulminant shift, but it’s a step further. Paradoxically, this Winston Churchill quote perfectly describes Medium, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Medium is described by its creators as “a place where everyone has a story to share.” It’s a free platform that “is not for everybody, but it’s open to everybody.”
As I previously mentioned, I may be subjective. For instance, I am in love with extreme simplicity and it’s a normal reaction for me to like Medium. Of course, it might not be your case. Therefore, my recommendation is to try yourself Medium. If you are still in doubt, the next ideas should convince you!
1. Simple, Free, Open Platform
Setting up a Medium profile is a two-click task if you have a Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ account. Once you log in, you have a stream of stories published by users you follow and a sidebar with recommendations. The design is simple and discreet.
The first surprise comes when you want to write the first story. There is no special dashboard, no massive list of features to make the content visually appealing. It’s just you and your draft. You have basic tools to format the text and insert videos and images. When you are ready, hit the “Publish” button, or schedule it to be published in the future. Medium’s interface is simple and free and that’s the desire of any content creator, isn’t it?
Personally, I think that formatting Medium posts is straightforward and intuitive; the average Internet user won’t have big problems writing and formatting his or her stories. If you want to have full control over the design of your stories, this Help section is all you need!
2. Stories, Not Blog Posts
All of us are accustomed to the expression “blog post” when it’s about a piece of content that is published online. Personally, I consider “blog post” a technical, commercial, and impersonal term.
On Medium, the situation is very different. Here is the realm of the stories. You don’t publish a blog post, you write a story. The term “story” is way more personal and less commercial than “blog post” and has a special warmth. You are more likely to read a story than a blog post.
Storytelling is extremely important in life and business. Each Internet marketing related blog has some posts about storytelling. For instance, check out this WordStream post about storytelling and Internet marketing or see how Hubspot predicts that storytelling will be the biggest business skill in the next five years.
3. Readers, Not Clients
It’s quite common that your manager asks you write a story for customers. Still, at its roots, a story was created for listeners or readers. I believe that writing a story for clients is artificial. But, each of us needs to pay the bills and under these circumstances, it’s understandable to concede.
A distinguishable feature of Medium is the lack of commercial interest. Here, users are readers and not clients. The value of the content is more important than the number of leads or email addresses collected. The same as the previous section, the replacement of the term “clients” with “readers” lets everyone know that Medium is a place for pleasant, interesting, and useful lectures that aren’t mixed with commercial intentions.
4. An Educated Audience
Content creators know that their works should be easy to scan because the attention span of an Internet user is below than the attention span of a goldfish. You have approximately eight seconds to convince readers that your post deserves their attention. It’s frustrating for any writer to have his endeavors evaluated in just a few seconds.
Medium offers us a surprise – the optimal stories are seven minutes long. This fact implies that the attention span of a Medium reader is higher than that of the average Internet user. Ed Williams claims that “the truth is people still read” and Medium is the supreme argument to sustain this statement.
Medium users are more interested in reading stories, ideas, or any kind of content but they expect VALUE! If you are able to provide content that resonates with your audience, Medium will significantly contribute to growing your audience.
Medium users are more patient and interested in reading your thoughts but, at the same time, they expect high value content.
Note: If you want to have a solid grasp on the origins of Medium, its plans for the future, and other interesting facts about Evan Williams, I recommend watching this 27-minute interview.
The above four ideas enticed you enough to give Medium a try but it’s not enough to simply create a Medium account. You need a plan to succeed on Medium and to set up clear expectations of what you want from it. If you want just to share your ideas, write without the pressure of a manager, or to test the waters, it’s simple. Sign up, start writing, connect with other people, and step-by-step your stories will be discovered by readers. Does that sound too romantic to be true? Darius Foroux proves that you can succeed on Medium with $0 marketing investment. Check out his article about the things learned from publishing 100 posts. In my humble opinion, the success of Darius Foroux reveals what Medium is all about – a platform where marketing doesn’t matter and quality always triumphs.
I accuse myself of being a double dealer but Medium can be used to grow your business. Huge brands such as Buffer and Kissmetrics tested various strategies and the results weren’t bad at all. Medium is an evolving network; you have no guarantee that what worked for others will bring you impressive results. Much more, Medium’s managing team struggles to monetize the platform; therefore, we will see major modifications in the near future.
No matter what the future has in store, Medium is one of the best solutions for brand awareness. I am not sure if you can make instant sales from publishing on Medium but you can certainly use it to grow your business, let people know your core values, and engage with people in a natural and pleasant way. Here are some tips to keep in mind and put into practice to grow your business with Medium.
1. Write Stories Without Sales Funnels in Mind
Yes, I am aware that writing valuable content is just fluff; you are bored with this idea. Still, many marketers make a huge mistake. They are obsessed with creating new content, pay too much attention to metrics, and neglect a fundamental principle – the content should be targeted towards the right audience.
You can publish the best content ever created on earth but if it is consumed by an uninterested audience, it is a huge waste of resources and a huge source of frustration both for creators and consumers. Instead, publish content that satisfies the users’ expectations on Medium. This means that you shouldn’t promote your products or services like crazy. Instead, focus on providing content that engages with the Medium audience. Create stories and not traps to make people buy from you.
This approach isn’t profitable in the short-term but in the long-term, it helps gain people’s trust. Overall, a good relationship with prospects is way more important than a short sales growth.
2. Repurpose Your Content
It’s such a pity that sometimes amazing content is buried in archives and only sporadic readers enjoy it. It’s time to do something useful with your old but gold content. One solution is to use it to launch a podcast and this article is a good guide in this respect. Another way to use old content is to add your best articles to Medium. Many companies, including important brands, tried this solution and the results were positive.
Neil Patel wrote an interesting article where he suggested that this is a smart idea of fructifying your blog archives. He also presented the example of Buffer who published on Medium the best articles that were published in the previous year.
I am not sure if it’s necessary to publish posts from a year, six months, or two years ago; it’s all up to you. Buffer’s strategy was to make sure that the audience on Medium serves different content from what they promoted on Twitter and other social networks. The same strategy should be adopted by you. Keep in mind that Medium and Twitter have many things in common (for instance, Ev Williams is the founder of both platforms). However, a part of your Medium audience will be formed from your Twitter followers and you don’t want to look like a spammy promoter that desperately shares the same plain blog post.
3. Don’t Ignore Medium Analytics
I dare to name the unique selling point of Medium its devotion to serving valuable content to the readers. Still, determining the quality of a piece of content is a subjective and hardly quantifiable job. The content marketing world needs more palpable metrics to determine the content value and Medium seems to bring to the table new metrics in this respect.
Paradoxically, Medium analytics offer incomparably less data than Google Analytics, Search Console, Pinterest, or Twitter analytics. However, you shouldn’t make the mistake of neglecting them.
If you want to check Medium’s analytics, go to the “Stats” section of your account. If you don’t manage to find it or you need additional information, this article is useful. Medium uses four major indicators:
• Views – the number of people who clicked on a story’s page.
• Reads – the number of people who read the story (a Medium estimation).
• Read Ratio – the percentage between reads and views.
• Recommends – the number of people who clicked the heart symbol at the end of the story.
4. Create a Publication and Engage with Readers
Brand awareness is long-term work and it’s almost impossible to have impressive results in just a couple of days. Medium is the perfect environment for brand awareness but it requires a lot of work and resources. One of the most efficient methods of letting people know about your brand culture and core values is the creation of a Medium publication.
The publications can be personalized by adding a logo, an avatar, contact information, social media profiles, tags, an editor, and writers. Even the domain can be customized; more information is provided by Medium in this article.
Creating a publication is a 10-minute job. What really matters it is its management. Add stories, promote them, and most importantly, engage with the readers. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to fake real engagement on Medium; you can’t cut corners. Engaging with other people means replying to comments, reading, and commenting on other people’s stories, sharing cool stories on Twitter or Facebook, and recommending interesting stories.
It’s not difficult at all; in fact, it’s pretty cool to engage and eventually make new connections but all this implies investing a lot of time. Think twice before starting to invest time in Medium because your presence should be consistent and you should bring quality on the table.
5. Don’t Ignore the Visual Part of Your Medium Presence
I think that everyone agrees with the idea that Medium promotes quality content. This idea has nothing to do with ignoring the format of the posts and the design of the publication. Luckily or not, Medium doesn’t have too many formatting tools. Still, you are able to help the readers by properly formatting the text of the stories.
The design of the publication also shouldn’t be ignored. Good design implies a lot of subjectivity but I think that the below examples will inspire you to create an eye-catching publication.
I hope that you now have a more solid grasp on Medium and its features. Medium has a brilliant future and more entrepreneurs, businessmen, bloggers, and internet marketers will become more active on the platform. It’s a special platform that promises to bring something new to the market; it brings us back the pleasure of reading. Ev William and his team claim that Medium will be more crowded in the near future. Another important aspect is how the platform will bring money to the investors and publishers.
Medium is interesting for any content producer. The Medium audience is special; if you treat them accordingly, the results will be more than satisfactory. Do you have a similar opinion or you disagree with me? Please share your thoughts; I am quite curious to know your opinion about Medium.