The short answer is no. Pretty much unequivocally, simply put, without any hemming and hawing, if, ands or buts, no. If you are creating content in order to create awareness and nurture opportunity among a select audience of qualified prospects, Medium is not your friend and never will be.
But that doesn’t mean Medium can’t look like your friend, or that someone won’t try to convince you to think they are, or that someone you admire and respect won’t publish with them. Lots of people will publish with Medium. But that doesn’t mean you should, too.
More is Not a Content Marketing Strategy
I recently read through a pitch to publish your business blog on Medium. It’s not an especially good pitch, so don’t feel the need to read through it in full. But I wanted to highlight it here because it does include most of the arguments I’ve heard for publishing with Medium, and since none of them are especially good arguments, it makes for a great structure to pick apart for you.
If you’ve at all considered using Medium, or if someone has advised you to do so, or if you’ve noticed that some firms with totally sexy websites and great output use Medium for their content so maybe there’s something to it, I’d like to give you a simple rundown of defeaters and set you back on track.
There are three main “strategic” arguments I hear continually for using Medium, which I’ll dispel below. But each of them is basically the same idea: more. That Medium is so big that you only stand to gain by joining them. More readers, more traffic, more credibility. But the truth is that, on all counts, the only one who stands to really gain — in the long run — from you publishing on Medium is Medium.
The “More Eyeballs” Argument
This is always going to be the first pitch for using a service like Medium, and I’m glad for that because it makes clear the polar opposite directions that approach and what I’d recommend to anyone seeking to create awareness of their expertise and build an audience of people who need it.
My first objection to this argument is that more eyeballs aren’t really what you need; the right eyeballs are what you need. Sure, Medium has some pretty compelling numbers when you elevate volume to the top of your priority list, but volume is only one element that will impact the success of your marketing. Incidentally, the Crowdbotics article that I’ve recommended as a surrogate for the pro-Medium pitch highlights the top incoming and outgoing sites to Medium, most of which are strongly in the technology category. So before you let yourself be seduced by their numbers, ask yourself whether that sector of the market is really where your prospects are. While there may be some overlap there for your message and your audience, it’s not likely to be the right fit overall for anyone selling expertise. So that begins to weaken the traffic promise.
Lots of traffic and little action benefits you little. Less traffic and more action benefits you more. You’ll only get measurable action (that you can do something about) on your website, which leads me to the next argument…
The Domain Authority Argument
Yes, Medium has a lot of it. And that’s the point: Medium has it and Medium keeps it. Whatever “authority” you’d get by publishing on Medium is a tiny residual of what Medium keeps for itself.
As far as “authority” is defined in terms of SEO, you’d get absolutely none. The Crowdbiotics article conflates “authority” in terms of stature with actual “domain authority.” The point of domain authority is when a search engine matches a query to your website because it has determined your website to be the most authoritative source of information related to that query. If your material is on Medium, the search engine will assign that authority to Medium, no matter how unique and expertise-laden your writing. That doesn’t benefit you at all, except in the way that buying a lottery ticket at a very busy, big-city 7-11 gets you a little closer to a jackpot. A little closer, but a million miles off nonetheless.
The Crowdbiotics article also conflates SEO as it applies to a single article and as it applies to the purpose of an entire website. You want individual articles to perform well with organic search queries so that people who don’t know about you yet will discover you because they had questions your content can answer. How an individual page performs matters, because that becomes their front door to your website. But if Medium promises you “great SEO” for your articles, that just means that lots of readers will enter Medium.com by way of your article. Which really means that any queries they search on Google will result in results from Medium.com. Sure, some of them might be articles you wrote, but long-term, Medium gets the aggregate benefit, not you. And really, unless you’re writing something like “5 Things the Tesla Cybertruck Launch Will Teach You About Marketing” (as in, something leeching off of current events to shill generic marketing advice), your Medium article probably won’t perform that well anyway. And let’s talk about performance a bit more…
The Virality Argument
People still pitch things on the basis of the possibility that something could go viral. This is manipulative and stupid.
While a piece of content could go “viral” by catching on among Medium’s broader audience, it probably won’t and that, again, should not be your goal.
Content goes viral because it has broad interest and requires little of the audience – everyone loved “Charlie bit me” because it was cute and funny and asked little more than a moment of peoples’ time. Your content will ask more of its audience (time, attention, possible actions such as content gates) but will offer more: deep expertise and answers to questions only relevant to the type of person or organization that needs your advice and is willing to pay for it. Even if content goes viral that is on your website, it will only skew and confuse your metrics. Very few of those people spreading the virus are ever going to be future clients. The wider the contagion, the more that number approaches zero.
The longer I’ve been in the business of doing content marketing, and especially measuring it, the more driven I am to avoid traffic spikes. They feed the ego and clog the analytics.
The So-and-So is Doing It So I Should, Too Argument
I obliquely mentioned an agency who posts their content on Medium above. They’re not alone. Lot’s of companies use Medium as a platform. That doesn’t mean you should — for one reason, and one alone: Never assume that the results of someone else’s actions are desirable, nor that their motives are like yours. Just because a firm that looks impressive from the outside does something doesn’t mean that it works well! But it also doesn’t mean that how it’s being measured as “working” would be how you’d measure it.
Simply put, many firms don’t rely upon their website to create opportunity. And if you don’t need your website to create business for you, then you can do whatever you want there and not really have to worry about measuring results, ROI, etc. If a firm’s main goal is to contribute to a community of peers, for instance, publishing on Medium might actually be the best way to do that, and might actually be demonstrably effective in doing so. But if a firm’s main goal is to connect with a distributed audience of prospects and nurture relationships with them toward client acquisition, then, as I’ve already pointed out, Medium is about as good for that as would be trying to start a conversation about your expertise in the replies to a Beyonce tweet. Lots of people there, sure. Do any of them hear you? Nope.
If You Want Results from Your Content Marketing, Don’t Do It on Medium
I could go on. But as I read through arguments for adopting Medium, they’re always exactly as I’d have anticipated: The bottom line is that none of them really apply to me, and they don’t apply to you, either.
Your entire content strategy is predicated on the purpose of enriching your website with expertise that will attract, inform, and engage true prospects on your website, not someplace else, so that you can better control and customize the prospect experience, gather information that will help you learn more about individual prospects, and customize new business development experiences accordingly. You will never learn individual prospect data on Medium. In fact, on Medium, the more “successful” a piece of content, the less likely the reader is to ever reach your website. That is the exact opposite purpose of everything a good content strategist will recommending in a reliable marketing program.
The One Proviso
OK, so I said no hemming and hawing, no ifs, ands or buts, etc. But there is one, technically.
From time to time, you may find that publishing in isolation to Medium has its benefits. I’ve seen similar benefits from publishing to LinkedIn, and you may have also. There’s nothing magic going on there; it’s the same benefit you’d get from occasionally publishing in any off-site context (magazines, books) or speaking at events.
Adding your voice to an already thriving conversation is, of course, a great thing for gaining exposure and building an audience. But those are outreach techniques. Done in isolation, you can move audience attention from one place to another (your website). If that’s the totality of your strategy, the audience’s attention will stay where it was, and you will be little more than programming.