Why ‘Medium’ Works

19th February, 2016 by

Medium is one of the internet’s most successful blogging platforms.

Much has been made recently about the “death of blogging”. The unfiltered, casual and democratised medium for writing is so synonymous with how we gather, broadcast and share information online that it’s hard to imagine how it could go the way of other retired online formats. Pundits say that other formats such as newsletters, podcasts and social media streams have supplanted the need for online writers to maintain a personal blog altogether.

However, the internet has a tendency to predict the demise of just about everything, and the foretelling of the blog’s funeral seems entirely premature. This is mostly thanks to one platform: Medium. Co-founded by the founders of Twitter and the leadership team behind Blogger, one of the early internet’s most successful blogging platforms, Medium certainly had tech gravitas from the get go, but that didn’t necessarily guarantee success.

While blogging naysayers may be right in saying that maintaining a personal blog and growing an individual audience is becoming less common, they are wrong in assuming that people don’t still need a way to urgently and candidly share information far and wide. In a sense, Medium provides an easy-to-use, intuitive and elegant blogging platform for precisely those people who don’t maintain a personal blog. It also holds a certain amount of gravitas in its URL, that is, someone is more likely to click through to a Medium post by an author they don’t know than a random URL of a personal blog. The fact that Medium is also synced with Twitter makes sharing, posting and creating an identity on the platform very easy and seamless, all of which add to its usability and appeal.

But if there’s one reason why Medium seems to have really stood out, it’s the fact that its most fervent adopters seem to be powerful people working in tech. Hardly a week goes by where a startup founder, venture capitalist, tech insider or former-but-now-disgraced-employee of a large internet company doesn’t take to Medium to air their grievances. Once a few of these posts go viral, herd mentality catches on, and everyone in tech who has something to say (but who doesn’t have a pre-existing online readership in the form of a personal blog audience) can simply publish a post on the platform and share it with their social feeds.

Recent and notable examples of this include when Isis Anchalee called out rampant sexism in the tech world, when Bitcoin developer Mike Hearn announced he was stepping down, when teenager Andrew Watts laid out what social media looks like from a teen perspective, and when Umair Haque predicted the death of Twitter (yet again) and outlined what the company had done wrong.

As you can probably deduce, many of these posts have some commonalities that make them catch on or go viral. Medium posts that do well tend to be very specific. involving someone’s personal narrative, failing or revelation, or calling another person, company or entity out publicly. Where once people used to write an “open letter” on their blog as a way to passive-aggressively out wrongdoing by a former boss or influential person, they now take to Medium where the likelihood that the post will go viral and be seen by more people is higher.

Other common rules of internet writing apply, too. The first is not to make a post too long. Medium includes reading times at the top of each article, and anything over 8 minutes is unlikely to gain wider readership thanks to readers’ short attention spans. In addition, adding lists, bullet points, emphasis and text breaks is always key as it breaks up the reading experience for the reader.

But most importantly, have something unique to say. That’s where the original success of blogging came from—previously unheard voices saying previously unsaid things—and Medium is simply the new facilitator of that phenomenon.

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