Why Medium Still Matters

Last year, Forbes published a piece entitled “Why Medium Doesn’t Matter Anymore,” only to slightly undermine that argument by extolling all of the reasons why Medium does, in fact, still matter in 2018. “Medium makes it easy to blog,” the author wrote, before also maintaining that “Medium wins on design” and that there are “emerging thought leaders on Medium.” The rationale behind the title of the piece was that Medium had recently gone through a round of layoffs and began charging a nominal fee for access to some of its content. To my mind, that basically puts it in the same category as about 1,000 other sites.

And yet, Medium persists and, in my opinion, remains a viable outlet for executives seeking to further their thought leadership credentials. In fact, if you haven’t added Medium to your LinkedIn and blogging mix, you’re missing a great opportunity to express your opinions to new audiences.

What is Medium?

The site bills itself as “The place where everyone has a story to share and the best ones are delivered right to you,” and there are a couple of key points in that sentence.

The first is the emphasis on storytelling. The content that gets the most attention on Medium tends to be highly engaging, personalized, and original, with perspectives that are unique to the site’s writers. It’s content that is designed to evoke a response, be it intellectual or emotional, with readers.

The second point is encapsulated in the phrase “the best ones are delivered right to you.” Medium’s team of editors work hard to separate the wheat from the chaff to ensure that only high quality content makes it on the site. That’s a bit different from, for example, LinkedIn, where just about anything can be published with a simple click. Content on Medium tends to be highly curated, which means that — ideally — only the best writing makes its way onto the site.

Why is it important?

Medium does not put any constraints on who can publish, and evens the playing field so that everyone can get their content noticed (as long as that content is high quality). Unlike LinkedIn, where articles written by the likes Richard Branson or Bill Gates may get more attention than the average executive, Medium is designed to give everyone the opportunity to gain just as many eyeballs as anyone else.

And there are a lot of eyeballs to be captured! In 2017, the site claimed 60 million unique monthly visitors. I have not seen statistics for this year yet, but certainly the reports of Medium’s death have been greatly exaggerated. It remains a vibrant and relevant site for marketers.

How does it work?

Similar to LinkedIn, anyone can post their stories to Medium. As mentioned before, posts are curated by an editorial team whose job it is to ensure that submissions adhere to their editorial guidelines. That team is serious about posting only top quality content.

Posts that tend to float to the top of the Medium feed usually exhibit some common traits. First, they have a lot of views. Views are different than clicks; medium actually monitors how much time a visitor spends on a page reading a post — a means of analyzing readers’ engagement levels. Second, popular articles tend to get a lot of “claps” (also known as “recommends,” which are Medium’s version of “likes”), signified by a little icon on the left of the page that looks like applauding hands. The more claps an article receives, the more it tends to get pushed to the forefront.

How can I get noticed?

As with any social media or content site, there are some strategies that writers can employ to give themselves a better chance of getting their content posted and shared. Here are a few:

  • Write for a sixth grade reading level. Medium’s research suggests that a simpler and more direct writing style tends to increase recommends by 25%.

  • Aim for 12 to 15 words per sentence. Sentences in this range receive about 20% more recommends than sentences in the nine to 11 word range.
  • Shoot for a six to seven minute “time to read.” Medium estimates how long it will take a reader to review an article, and posts that time at the top of the page. Articles that take six or seven minutes to read receive 20% more recommends than articles that take less or more time to read.
  • Use “power words” in headlines. Words like “great,” “top,” “best,” and others drive readership and recommends (by about 21%).

You can find more details about these, along with other recommendations, in this post on what makes an article popular on Medium. It’s a worthwhile read, particularly because it is based on a ton of research and data, all of it helpful to marketers who want to use Medium to maximum effect.

Make no mistake, Medium is still a content force to be reckoned with. You should certainly consider adding it to your blogging arsenal if you have not done so already. It’s easy to use, has high editorial standards, and a large readership. And let’s be honest — if it’s good enough for The New YorkerThe Martian author Andy Weir, and other notable voices, it should be good enough for us all.

Let’s talk.