Reaching your audience needs a plethora of tools

When I first encountered Medium, its sheer beauty and ease of use drew me in but then…

Image from DeathtoStock
Image from DeathtoStock

I started out in media as a political activist in the 1980s in the freedom struggle in South Africa. With litho printing, letraset, photostat machines, grid-lined paper, silk screening and typewriters we produced pamphlets, posters, newsletters to mobilise communities against the apartheid regime.

Already then we realised the power of media. With mainstream media either controlled by the state or curtailed by apartheid legislation we knew we had to find other means to win the hearts and minds of South Africans. Alternative media activists were perhaps the first modern citizen journalists.

To reach the people, in the absence of the internet (or even television), required ingenius use of street theatre, graffiti, music and slogan t-shirts in addition to the various print mediums. In the battle of ideas, you need to use everything at your disposal. Modern city living means that it is difficult to catch my attention. And once you have my attention, you better draw me in.

This holds true even today with smartphones and tablets or laptops or whatever other device we use to surf the Net. And the nature of the internet has reflected the very complexity that is human civilisation and the ways in which we engage. There are news sites, social media, blogs, tons of apps, gaming sites, video sites… At this moment I am connected to about.me, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Somewhere, Gmail, a blog on Blogger and WordPress, Academia.edu, Google+, ScripD, Pinterest, iCloud, Dropbox, Bitly, Prezi, Slideshare, Goodbooks… oh and Medium.

Now Medium is clearly the next wave of blogging. It is seductive with its ease of use like when the first Macs came on the market with its user-friendly interface hiding the code many don’t understand and don’t wanna see. I discovered Medium through a post on my Facebook timeline. Once I read the article I wanted to recommend the piece and so I signed up. I started writing almost immediately and within a month had eleven articles.

Someone from a Publication on Medium saw one of my posts and that I did not have a Publication of my own. He offered to have my article published under his Publication name. I consequently realised that it was so easy to start a Publication (then a Collection) myself that I did so right away and had it up an running in less than 20 minutes. The thing about Medium is that, with the minimalist layout, it makes it so convenient to write.

In many ways, Medium has sparked my new eagerness to write, to find different ways to be a journalist and share my insights such as this discussion about Medium that is happening on Medium. When I am done, I will probably tweet the article to inform my network and other potential readers. My Twitter account is linked to Facebook (many who are still reluctant to connect on Twitter). Now there is a probably a way to do this easier but I will then head over to Bitly to shorten the url and then update statuses on Google+, LinkedIn and anywhere else I think will bring me more traction.

Now I could simply use Medium as my new blog and use social media to spread the messsage but its complicated. I had a stand alone blog that worked okay for a while. Stand alone blogs are likes shops on the corner; great to showcase your wares but the passing traffic can be quite slim. Medium is like a brand new shopping mall that everyone wants to check out.

But to be this mall, it needs to also have limitations or else people, God forbid, would start selling their wares in the walkways. And to maintain this modern, attractive mall atmosphere it, of necessity, must limit the look of the shop front and how we display our produce. It is the need for that freedom and individuality, the presentation part, that made me keep my blog. Then something strange happened…

When I went back to Blogger my site looked so dull. It was complicated to get a new attractive look. Posting a new entry was now such a schlepp. Too many options and ugly fonts. I just couldn’t, in all good conscience, stay there. I realised that Medium had spoiled me for other blogs. I tried Wix but all the best templates had a price tag.

I finally went to WordPress that gave me a design for my blog that was reminiscent of my Medium page. Clean, good looking. Oh, and editing functions that clearly was learning from sites like Medium. And here I can neatly tuck in my one page write-up from about.me, place icons for links to my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn accounts and a link to books website.

So now I am staying with Medium for its crispness and the community but also maintaining my WordPress site where I can showcase my writing in a beautiful, ascetically pleasing, unified publication.

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