If your work or interests have something to do with technology or web design, then you’ve probably heard of Medium. On the one hand, it looks like yet another blogging platform with quite a few limitations. But on the other hand, it has done a great job of bringing blogging back into the spotlight.
Why bloggers tend to switch to social media
You don’t have to be a digital media specialist (which I’m not) to notice that many, many people with good blogging skills have been quitting blogging in favor of Twitter or other social networks like Facebook. My guess is that in most cases this is caused by either of the following.
1) Twitter with its hashtags and Facebook with its built-in social element allow you to get instant varied reward* for your posts while blogging provides reward in a slower manner.
2) With Twitter and Facebook you don’t need to go through the whole idea-writing-editing process (it’s even undesirable) — an idea alone is enough. With Twitter you simply post your idea ‘as is’, and with Facebook you probably do some writing but still not much editing.
*Varied reward is a part of the Hook model by Nir Eyal, which is a pattern used to build a habit. Reward in this model is called varied because the actual effect always remains unknown.
In other words, you feel ‘pressed’ to post as fast as you can.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you went to a concert and really enjoyed it. You will post on Twitter or Facebook either right after the concert or the next day. (Some would even post during the concert but it’s really a waste of that special moment.) Why? Because this way you will get a better reward (likes or comments) from your followers or just random people who also attended the event. If you post a month later, I guarantee you won’t get nearly as much reward. In fact, it would even look misplaced, out of fashion somehow.
With blog you can post next weekend or next month and it will be equally rewarding. Why? Because face it — we write fiction and blog posts first and foremost for ourselves, while we write Twitter and FB posts for a social reward (‘see how cool I am liking or attending such a cool concert’). Proof? Say you posted something on FB, but nobody liked it or commented on it within the following 24 hours. How would that make you feel? That’s right — frustrated. But with blogging it’s totally okay. You may get responses on the next weekend or in a month. No big deal, nothing to worry about.
Medium wins users because of its social element
Social element is what made Medium such a success. To be specific, Medium makes finding interesting blogs considerably easier than other popular platforms like Blogger, LiveJournal and Wordpess for both bloggers and casual blog readers.
All you have to do is click Top stories on the main page or simply scroll down a bit to see Stuff picks. On the right of Stuff picks section Medium displays top stories and tags (more stuff to click to see more stuff!)
Also, if you decide to register Medium does something similar to Pinterest and StumbleUpon: it prompts you to choose your topics of interest to make relevant reading suggestions:
WordPress, on the other hand, isn’t as practical if you’re looking for something to read. Without a registered account WordPress will greet you with a landing page listing the advantages of the platform. If you click on Discover link, you will be taken to yet another landing page, and only after clicking Get Started… Whoops! You’ve got to log in or register — pretty frustrating for someone looking for a quick read.
There’s a little workaround, though — if you click a tiny Discover link at the bottom of the first page, it will take you to discover.wordpress.com, where you can see some interesting stuff. But will anyone notice this link? I think not:
Of course, if you’re a registered WordPress user, you probably know where to look for new stuff to discover:
- https://botd.wordpress.com/?lang=en (it can be replaced with the code for any other language, uk for Ukrainian, for example)
But for new bloggers or readers it is certainly not so obvious.
Other reasons for Medium’s popularity
It also seems to me that Medium puts less pressure on bloggers: you can publish one article and get a tremendous response, then publish the next one either never or in 6 months. It’s hard to imagine any other place where you have 2 articles in your blog and quite a lot of readers (unless you’re a business or celebrity).
In addition, blogs on Medium have very few settings, which should be attractive to modern generation who, judging from the popularity of Twitter and Snapchat, seem to love simple and clean services that are limiting users in some way. However, it’s worth noting that you can only make some use of Medium if you write in English. Posts written in other languages are simply far less popular due to limited readership.
All in all, Medium seems more like a magazine where you submit your articles, so it might be a great place to promote your own projects. But putting all eggs in that basket? No, thanks.