Is It Time to Try Medium? New Federal-Friendly Terms of Service

Content From: DigitalGovPublished: August 11, 20153 min read

Topics 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 platformExit Disclaimer, a social network, a distribution channelExit Disclaimer, a 21st century version of the op-ed pageExit Disclaimer, or something elseExit Disclaimer? 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.

Content Discovery

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 teenager’s view on social media (written by an actual teen)Exit Disclaimer”? Or perhaps you noticed when President Obama broke with tradition and shared a sneak peek of his State of the Union remarks on MediumExit Disclaimer? These examples show that, with the right content, Medium can be a powerful place for attracting attention. Medium was last reportedExit Disclaimer 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 servicesExit Disclaimer 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.