By now you may have heard of Medium, the new Silicon Valley sensation that has everybody talking writing. According to founder Evan Williams, Medium is “a new place on the Internet where people share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters and not just for friends.” Big deal, sounds like a blog, right? Wrong. Medium has some very special ingredients that make it much more than a blog – it is a model of social writing and idea-exchange that offers huge potential for writers in general and tech b2b marketers in particular.
So why should tech b2b marketers care about Medium? Firstly, Medium is all about sharing ideas. Any ideas. Unlike other social media platforms, Medium is not limited to word count, topic, language, status, or profession. A simple and elegant interface makes it easy for anyone to author an article or add a comment. A startup founder can pen a piece describing his company’s efforts to take the next step, an app developer can plug his latest creation, a professional writer can post a 10,000 word story that garners thousands of readers. In other words, Medium is a great place for spreading the word on any topic, including the arcana of technology.
But if there are no limits defining what can and cannot be published on Medium, doesn’t that just become a giant mishmash of content? A second key ingredient of Medium is its powerful ability to match content with audience. Through a combination of human curation and algorithmic voodoo (think Pandora, only for articles), discovering and consuming relevant content on Medium is more effortless than most anywhere else on the web. Medium’s algorithm will suggest additional articles for you once you’ve reached the end of the current piece (and allows readers to augment the algorithm by suggesting their own related articles). Medium also boasts “collections” of articles – articles grouped together by subject matter – as well as human-curated material chosen by the site staff or recommended by readers. In the style of Twitter, Medium also presents updated lists of trending posts or most read posts from previous months. All of these different channels make Medium an extremely flexible tool for sharing and discovering content.
Finally, Medium is highly collaborative by nature. Authors publish articles like on any blog, but unlike most blogs, readers have the ability to make comments directly in the sidebar. The result is that, instead of being buried down the page in a tangle of comment threads, discussion takes place at the level of the content itself. We are beginning to see this new method of inline commenting catch on throughout the web. For example, the New York Times is looking to build such a system into its latest website refresh, and for good reason – it gives the reader much more control over how and where they respond to an idea, and gives comments value by placing them alongside the content. By giving value to comments, Medium encourages readers to chime in and interact, making every article a potential catalyst for discussion and engagement.
It’s hard to tell a story in 140 characters or less. It’s even harder to do so in a blog post that nobody knows exists. If marketing is about telling stories and creating meaning, Medium may just be just right for tech marketers.