Pretty much every company has a blog, but most face the same challenges.
With consumer attention spans dwindling and so much competition, just how can you cut through and get people to view your content regularly? How do you become a destination site for content consumption if your company is known primarily for unrelated products and services?
Even an excellently executed blog content strategy with an injection of personality and a regular publishing schedule can fail to attract visitors outside the company’s own employee network.
That’s where Medium comes in.
Medium, the online publishing platform started by Twitter co-founder Ev Williams in 2012, is based on the premise that the best ideas should be read and discussed. No matter how many social media followers a company has or how prestigious and lengthy its history is, if their content isn’t good enough it won’t get attention. Conversely, any individual or business can attract a loyal fan base if their content is compelling enough.
Medium delivers on this premise by taking on board user engagement signals and tailoring each reader’s news feeds to highlight the content they are most likely to enjoy.
This leads my homepage to look as follows:
Part social network, part publishing platform, and very addictive. As a result, some companies have decided to host their blog entirely on Medium. Notable examples include Sweetgreen, BMW, and General Electric.
Others have maintained a blog on their company’s domain, but use Medium to push select pieces out to what may amount to a larger audience.
There are plenty of questions, but fortunately also quite a few answers.
So, should you publish content on a company blog or on Medium? The below is a round-up of the pros and cons of each approach.
Why You Should Publish Company Content on Medium
Huge Potential Audience
Medium.com gets over 60 million visits per month, and it’s still growing. Sure, there’s an awful lot of content on there too, but it still provides the kind of potential audience most brands can only dream of.
The variety of tags and categories also helps readers to sift through content, so you can reasonably hope to reach a lot of people if you do your research.
The Medium Editor
Medium’s content management system is easy to use and it is optimized for a great reading experience. There is plenty of white space, readers can highlight and comment on specific quotes, and it even provides an estimated reading time.
With a mobile app available for Android and iOS, too, Medium takes a lot of the legwork out of content publication.
Medium generates a lot of backlinks and social media interaction, all of which contributes to its very significant SEO visibility. Searchmetrics reports that the domain ranks for 319,595 organic keywords, while Moz gives the domain an authority score of 92/100.
If you optimize your content for the right terms and you get some traction on Medium, you can rank for some valuable keywords.
Built-In Social Amplification
A content platform devised by a Twitter co-founder was always going to do a good job of amplifying its assets. By publishing on Medium, your content is immediately syndicated to a huge network and all of this interaction can be tied back to your social media accounts.
You Can Republish Content from Elsewhere
The ‘Import Content’ functionality is fantastic and it automatically generates a canonical tag in the source code, pointing Google to the original source of the content.
A frequent question about Medium is whether users run the risk of being flagged by Google for duplicate content, but this is highly unlikely to be the outcome. That said, there is a sense of dilution by posting the same content in multiple places. Companies still need to consider which platform they consider to be the ‘canonical’ version, both from Google’s perspective and that of their readers.
Why You Shouldn’t Publish Company Content on Medium
Less Control over Aesthetics
Medium is customizable, but bloggers still need to cede some artistic control to the platform’s standard look. This can be a positive factor for the user, as they receive the same quality of experience regardless of the author. The content is left to speak for itself. For brands with a distinct visual identity, this could be a slight stumbling block.
No Built-In Lead Generation
If you use your content to gather new email addresses or to get people to sign up to your newsletter, Medium may not be the right place to publish. You can still link out to other web properties and ask readers to take an action there, but on the whole, Medium doesn’t lend itself too readily to lead generation forms.
The Analytics Capabilities Are Weak
As standard, Medium’s analytics offering is pretty rudimentary. The three core metrics are Views, Reads, and Recommends, and there’s not a whole lot else beyond those.
You can add Google Analytics capabilities, but only if you are using a custom domain. More information on this option can be found here, but even if you have a custom domain there are still some restrictions on the data you can access.
Medium Is the Real Winner
If your brilliant content attracts thousands of reads and backlinks, those will go to Medium.com. Of course, you can link out to your brand and you can make use of your byline to highlight what you do.
Nonetheless, it is worth considering this trade-off; you may get more visibility, but the rewards will be split.
Nothing Lasts Forever
I would not recommend housing your best content solely on Medium. It is a growing platform, but it also changes a lot and no one is too big to fail. If Medium ever were to go the route of so many other once-great Internet companies (think AltaVista or MySpace), your content could disappear along with it.
Why You Should Publish Content on a Company Blog
The reasons for publishing your content on a company blog are quite clear and they run contrary to much of what we have seen above about Medium.
A company blog will provide a lot more freedom, both aesthetically and technically. It will also allow you to build in any lead generation forms that provide value to your business, along with much more sophisticated data analytics.
Some of the other benefits are as follows:
Consolidation of Backlinks and Social Shares
You may be unlikely to garner as much attention as Medium affords brands, but any backlinks generated by your content will go directly to your domain. Although harder to earn, they will be worth more to your company in the long run.
Readers Are Likely Engaged with the Brand
If someone chooses to visit your company blog they are probably already engaged with your brand. This is a subtle and significant contradiction to Medium, where the ideas come to the fore, rather than the brand name.
Of course, people will only read and enjoy content if it is of sufficient quality, no matter how much they love the brand. Nonetheless, readers who repeatedly visit a company blog tend to generate an affinity for the brand.
Direct Shop Window for the Company
By hosting a company blog on the same domain as your essential products and services, you can extend the customer experience and show different sides to your company’s character. Content can nurture leads in a much more effective way if it resides on the same domain as your transactional pages.
Why You Shouldn’t Publish Content on a Company Blog
There are good reasons for moving a company blog to Medium, especially now that brands can secure custom domains. Put simply, running a company blog can be a thankless task if things don’t go to plan. Some of the core drawbacks to publishing content on a company blog are:
Running a Blog Requires Resources
Company blogs require a financial investment to get them up and running, but also to cover their maintenance. Furthermore, they need a steady and reliable stream of content to give them any chance of success. That can be challenging to secure, especially if you require input from company staff who are busy with their many other responsibilities.
As a result, company blogs can descend into easy-but-forgettable listicles that offer little in the way of insight or perspective. Hosting the blog on Medium helps to decrease the severity of these risks, as the capital investment is lower.
Hard to Gain Traction via Organic Search
Unless you are a big brand with a lot of SEO authority, it will be difficult to gain traffic to the blog via organic search. For smaller brands, this will mean targeting longer-tail queries with low competition. Even for bigger brands, if the blog is not integrated into the site’s internal linking structure, the content can easily be lost among the clutter.
Done Badly, It Can Damage Brand Reputation
Given that most people use a website to carry out an intended action, they are not always in the mood to take a detour to the blog to get the company’s view on industry topics. They are even less likely to keep coming back to the website just to see the latest content.
It isn’t impossible to reach these heights and many companies have achieved exactly this, but many brands have also ended up with blogs that are unloved and in need of attention. It can be damaging for a brand to have a blog that is rarely updated and, when there are posts, they attract only a handful of social shares.
Ultimately, either approach can be successful.
Company blogs, irrespective of their niche, can attract and retain a loyal following if they strike a chord with their audience. We can see this clearly in examples like the Home Depot blog, which stays true to the company’s identity but finds a range of unique angles to discuss products without being overbearing.
It can be hard to get your own blog off the ground, however, especially if you are a smaller company. Medium offers the opportunity to accelerate that development and avoid starting from zero.
In fact, a hybrid approach can be even more successful. For companies with the resources at their disposal, hosting all content on their own blog and republishing it on Medium with some tweaks to suit the different needs of the audience can be a fruitful way of marketing content.
Bottom line: both options provide something of value to companies of all sizes. Finding a happy medium (pardon the pun) will mean a different approach for each individual business, but it is more than achievable.
Featured Image: Created by Clark Boyd via Canva.
Screenshots taken by Clark Boyd, September 2017.
In-post Image: Pixabay