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What Does Medium Mean for Businesses?

You’ve likely heard it’s on to the next for Evan Williams and Biz Stone. As founders of both Blogger (1999) and Twitter (2006), the duo has unveiled yet another avenue for shaking up the digital publishing world: Medium. The new platform looks and sounds a lot like tools we’ve already seen (namely Pinterest) but in the official announcement, Williams makes it clear that the goal is nothing short of evolutionary.

Here’s how it works: at its core, Medium is collaborative. Users can contribute as much or as little as they want to themed “collections” of content, as well as indicate when they like something they see or read. The more a piece of content is appreciated, the likelier it is to be seen by others.

“Collections give people context and structure to publish their own stories, photos, and ideas,” explained Williams. “By default, the highest-rated posts show up at the top, helping people get the most out of their time in this world of infinite information.”

Quality Control

The idea behind giving more exposure to likable content is a direct response to the quality vs. quantity debate, which, as a person forever on Team Quality, I deeply appreciate. After all, there’s no such thing as a lack of information sharing anymore, but the actual enhancement of content has largely remained on the back burner.

At the same time, however, I wonder what this means for personal branding. Williams specifically states that users can contribute to Medium “without the burden of becoming a blogger or worrying about developing an audience.” But want to develop an audience? How does leaving that part out align with the the growing importance of  influencers and advocates– particularly for businesses?

What’s in it for Businesses?

Businesses are becoming publishers– it’s a natural reaction to the amount of content sharing that consumers are doing on a daily basis. Simply put: they have to keep up if they want to remain relevant. Services like Blogger and Twitter allow them to join the conversation directly while obviously remaining under their brand. But the newest players in the game, Pinterest included, make this approach a bit foggy. And let’s say Medium rises in popularity just like its predecessors. If everyone’s content is placed into different mixing bowls, how will businesses be able to contribute and still retain their brand-y goodness?

Clay Shirky famously said that media is  the “connective tissue of society,” and if that’s true — which I think it is — it makes answering this question all the more important. Thoughts? Toss them in the comments below.

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