HIV.gov works to share information on the wide range of digital tools. The following post is by our Federal colleagues at DigitalGov.
What is Medium?
Good question. Is it a publishing platform, a social network, a distribution channel, a 21st century version of the op-ed page, or something else? With a continuously evolving feature-set, Medium defies simple classification. Perhaps it is best to think about Medium in terms of what you can accomplish with it. With a new federal-friendly terms of service being rolled out this week, now is a good time to reconsider Medium’s use (and usefulness) in government.
Why Use Medium?
I talked with a handful of government agencies to better understand why and how they use (or intend to use) Medium. The attraction seems to coalesce around three key areas: content discovery, simple design, and features that foster conversation.
Even if you’re not a regular Medium user, chances are that you’ve stumbled upon the site since its launch in 2012. Remember January’s viral hit “A teenagerâs view on social media (written by an actual teen)”? Or perhaps you noticed when President Obama broke with tradition and shared a sneak peek of his State of the Union remarks on Medium? These examples show that, with the right content, Medium can be a powerful place for attracting attention. Medium was last reported to be averaging 25M unique visitors per month. That’s a lot of potential eyeballs.
Outreach to New Audiences: Tech-Savvy and Engaged Readers
Medium offers an opportunity to reach people that may not be engaging with you on other platforms. Jared Benoff at the Department of Labor says Medium helps the agency expand its footprint and, specifically, reach a tech-savvy audience that is very engaged online. It is less about the total number of potential readers Medium offers and more about their readers’ tendency to stick with content and engage with it. At the Peace Corps, Erin Ruberry says the organization chose to showcase its in-house experts—such as career services and digital innovation—who don’t often get the spotlight. Medium offers an opportunity to reach people who might not otherwise have the Peace Corps on their radar.
Content Strategy: Quality vs. Timeliness
If Medium is a “place to tell stories” it makes sense to prioritize narrative content. At Labor, content is selected for publishing on Medium based on its storytelling quality—in terms of both text and images. Some agencies focus on feature article and special reports (“things you’ve already worked hard on” as the National Science Foundation’s Jessica Arriens says) while others post more frequently and with looser criteria. As more organizations begin sharing content on Medium, it will be interesting to compare notes about what content performs best and why.A differentiator for Medium compared with other social sites is that “high quality content” is prioritized over the date a story is published. Medium’s editors select content to be featured on the main page and engagement is measured through “total time reading.” Interestingly, how long a story takes to read is sometimes easier to spot than the date the piece was published.Read DigitalGov’s complete post about Medium here.