Since June 29th I have posted fifteen times to Medium.
Medium calls all my posts “stories.” However given that four of those “stories” were really just responses to somebody else’s piece, I would argue that I really have only eleven “stories” worth the name.
But then this is one of the first things I’ve learned about Medium, and that is that by calling every post a story, it encourages users to think about their comments in the same way they might think about their primary posts: as writing worth considering both from a messaging and craft standpoint.
Does everybody do this? No. Do I think it’s a worthwhile thing to do? Yes.
Let’s consider my first four comments in the order in which they appeared as a means of tracking their evolution from the banal to the interesting.
The first comment I posted was in response to a story about how to “accelerate” success with blogging (hasn’t worked yet, by the way), to which I said “I’m about to launch a blog and just started posting to Medium — this has encouraged me to keep at it and given me some great tips. Thanks for sharing your experience!”
It’s the kind of blah comment that leaves the reader thinking so what (or depending upon how you feel about that over-eager exclamation point, what a loser).
The second two times I posted a comment I took more of a copywriter’s approach, offering the same thanks for sharing response but doing so in a much more clever way that suggested I have my own point of view.
To a piece petitioning for a chance to give President Obama a hug I wrote, “I like you Kimberly Harrington [the author of the original post]. And I love our president!”
And to another piece about surviving the slow times as a freelancer I wrote, “Been there, done that. In fact, am there, doing that…”
Cheeky in a good way, right? I mean I’d want to get to know me after reading that, wouldn’t you?
But the last time I made a comment I think I got closer to a personal gold standard, moving away from the throwaway “good job” comment toward saying something novel in response to the original post, and all while maintaining the copywriter’s conversational ease.
I was commenting on a story titled When a Friendship Goes Awry Over the Charmin, to which I said, “And here I thought this was going to be a story about how a friendship was lost when one person in the relationship refused to buy recycled toilet paper…”
I know, right?
This one actually received a reply from the author, who said she could see that happening, which in turn led to my first ah-ha moment: Medium isn’t just about media, it’s social media, in its longest form.
And if connecting with others in order to build an audience for your work is the point of Medium, then unexpected comments like this last one provide at least one means of getting there, especially when they yield just as many if not more reads than my original posts (as evidenced by my own meager stats).
You Millennials probably already know this intuitively, given that you’ve been tweeting and instagramming your every last thought forever, and likely find it funny that I’ve had to get all analytical about it in order to figure it out. But you come talk to me when you’re pushing 50 and we’ll see how you feel then.
Sure I still have plenty of other things to learn, like what the sweet spot is in terms of story length (an 11 minute read = way too long), and what types of titles tend to garner the most clicks (the word mom in your title isn’t going to do you any favors, let me tell you), and how to get comfortable promoting myself by “sharing” the fact that I’ve published something new (really, really unlikely).
But finding myself in the realm of social media — navigating the newly blurred boundaries between the personal and professional in order to cultivate an online persona — is my first order of business. My age (forty-seven) and my upbringing (be humble! don’t boast!) make this a challenge, as does the fact that my cohort is equally, ahem, mature and as disinclined to join, like, or comment as I am.
But hey, at least I’m in the game now.
May as well compete.