Pick your Platform: Powering great content online

Emily Malloy-Manuel, digital media director, Touche! on content deals and why long-form sites like Medium matter.

What is the most innovative media platform in market today? That is the question MiC is posing to the industry, with Emily Malloy-Manuel, digital media director, Touché!, on the power of long-form content online.

By Emily Malloy-Manuel

Although the rise of short-form publishing over the last number of years à la Facebook and Twitter has put real pressure on the traditional media producers to be reactive and real-time, the revival of long form published content is happening now. I’d say that players like Medium and Wattpad are really interesting, and there’s a lot of potential from a publishing side of things. Medium describes itself as being a new place on the internet where people from amateur cooks to professional authors share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters.

We all know that everyone is gunning to be the content king, and the rules of the game have drastically changed in recent times. Content producers that have been at each other’s throats for years (okay, not literally) have even decided to play nice and form new partnerships, such as the Yahoo! and Live Nation (and by play nice I mean find better ways to limit waning profits by devising a rev-share model). Traditional channels of publishing (even in the digital realm) have been slow to evolve; they are more concerned with content ownership and site traffic than consumption and amplification. Brands are stepping up their game by becoming publishers and creators of content, at the forefront of looking for clever ways to engage with their consumers by delivering interesting content with lasting value (never mind the publishing empires that some have created). Long form publishing platforms such as Medium offer a new sandbox for anyone who wants to take a stab at the publishing world and even leverage a content strategy (yes – I used a buzzword from the 90s), whether it be an individual, a brand or even another publisher.

Nowadays it’s all about who can offer the best experience, so it’s no wonder the lines between brands and publishers are blurred when it comes to content. We all know that users can have the attention span of a goldfish, but if you give them the right content that is of interest, it’s quite the opposite.

From a consumer’s perspective, has anything really changed since the good ol’ days of opening your browser to a one-stop portal? (Yes, I’m aware that this is oversimplified). One of the biggest misconceptions in marketing today is that consumers are rational people. Platforms like Medium that can adapt to consumer behaviour, needs and wants and therefore be more effective in finding an audience have the most potential to shake things up.

Let’s take a closer look at Medium’s secret weapon: it’s the epitome of efficiency in publishing, as it responds to the individual interests of a specific subject matter and puts all contributors on an even playing field for the attention of readers.

For contributors (brands included), they may not be able to host the platform on their own domain, but in exchange they get access to an already contextually aggregated audience on a flourishing platform that is aesthetically pleasing.

For visitors, it’s a place to discover content that is sorted by interests, a type of Pinterest for words, where the highest quality content is rewarded in the algorithm and curators by means of positive feedback and high readership.

Either way, the days of getting our content from only traditional sources are definitely over, as the reader is now at center of the equation, and contributors who understand this are poised for success.

If you haven’t heard of it, I won’t take away the joy of your discovery. Basically, if a blogger and a publisher had a love child, Medium would be it. It’s an initiative from the guy (Ev Williams) that was involved in the creation of MediumBlogger and Twitter. I know you are dying to check it out, so before I leave you I’ll tell you my two personal favourite features.

• Notes: rather than scrolling down to the bottom of the page to comment on the article, you can actually leave a note (which can start a whole thread) at the paragraph level, and it can be regulated by the author.

• Length: The time it takes in minutes to read each article is prominently displayed right up front, below the title of the article. Genius! (Full disclosure, I haven’t tested whether it’s the time needed for a ‘fast reader’ versus a ‘slow reader’, I’ll leave that fun stuff up to you).

Next week: monetisation! #kidding.