Last week I learned about a new social media platform called Medium and was given an exciting directive to explore their new website and report back to the rest of the team. I didn’t know much about Medium going in, other than it proclaims to be based on the belief that the sharing of ideas and experiences is what moves humanity forward. Sounds great!
Truth be told, after several days of exploration I’ve come to the conclusion that Medium is my kind of platform. It’s for the 1% of us that like to write opinionated quasi-intellectual notes on Facebook that unintentionally alienate half of your friends. The best part is that your parents, employers and colleagues haven’t discovered Medium yet, so it’s like Facebook circa 2006 when you could still get away pouring your heart out over the course of an evening (and a bottle of Chianti) with no repercussions.
Medium is currently in über beta start-up mode, but I thought it might be fun to poke and prod around their website with the proverbial stick. The following is what I’ve discovered.
Blogging Platform Reimagined
When I went to explore Medium, I did it from the perspective of their motto, ie, someone trying to move humanity forward, and I was immediately drawn to this post: Stop working (so hard).
But in all seriousness, from what I understand, Medium is trying to reimagine the concept of a blog by making it more socially interactive than current designs allow and by facilitating longer conversations and extraneous dialogue in the process.
It became immediately apparent that this platform is geared towards a certain type of person. You know the Facebook friend who posts cute kitty photos and gets all twisted whenever someone talks about politics, science or demonstrates critical thinking? Yeah, this site is not for them. Medium is more accurately for people who like to write, or those who like to critique what other people write.
In a typical blog format (Tumblr, Facebook, Blogger, WordPress) all of the comments on a given post are archived at the bottom of each post. With Medium, the comments are displayed to the right side of the post, which results in a more fluid interaction. When you comment on a given post you can highlight the exact word or phrase you want to comment on, and subsequent users can comment further. This feature makes for more functional interactions with a post, and I like it.
Check this out:
Do you remember how crazy Myspace got when people could add pink backgrounds and floating sparkles and snowflakes to their landing pages causing your Pentium III computer to freeze up? Do you hate it when you arrive at a blog with an orange background with white typeface? Medium has simplified the way people format their blogs by eliminating choice, essentially subtracting a lot of the functional ability and formatting options that you may be used to with other platforms. They also allow only a single headline image for each post. I think this works because it makes their blog system cleaner and easier to read.
Here is an example of what I mean:
- You can only add one image
- Your title is large and bold
- The body of your writing is in smaller font
That’s it. You cannot change the font, add italics, underline things, create orange backgrounds or add snowflakes to accentuate a wintry theme. This is blogging simplified.
In the following image you can see that Medium allows you to review posts, and collections of posts (demonstrated below).
You can customize your own collection of posts under the heading “Collections” or if you don’t want to go with the ones that they select for you, you can create your own, which could be a fun way to stimulate conversations about topics that are relevant to you personally. My favorite category is “Armchair Economics” because the topics flatter my unquenchable thirst for knowledge and/or ego.
Who should use Medium?
I’m answering this question wearing my PR professional hat as clients are often asking for the return on investment (ROI) on social media platforms. I haven’t done enough digging around to fully understand Medium’s policies, but if you have a business or a brand that relies on the dissemination of ideas and information to relevant communities, Medium may be a good platform to keep your eyes on.
I’m a little conservative when investing too much time in new platforms – I like to watch others jump in to see how they may be benefiting before I invest my most precious commodity, time. It is unclear to me if writing a blog-like post in Medium will create any less or any more SEO for your brand.
Medium challenges the notion that attention spans are getting shorter or that people require all information to come in 140 characters or less. Medium is embracing the idea that everyone can write long, drawn-out prose, and that there are people out there that want to read your meanderings.
Go ahead, check it out and explore for yourself. http://medium.com