Medium’s long tail

I looked at some of my top posts to Medium to see the top referers. What I discovered… (pause for curiosity gap)… surprised me.

The importance of social media dropped over time. Long live the long tail.

Usually, the first wave of traffic comes from social — my own Twitter and Facebook accounts along with retweets and shares.

But over the long haul, Google and/or email referral tends to surpass social media. Take a look.

What lessons can we take from this?

First, social buzz sets the stage.

It’s not like social media is inconsequential, even if it’s not always the top referral. It can kick off momentum (if it’s a quality post) and lets me know if my topic resonated with people. Social is like market validation for my content.

If it did work, that’s where someone with a larger or different audience can pick it up and help it spread through other channels. Which brings us to…

Second, email isn’t dead.

The fact that Buzzfeed has 14 email newsletters shows that even social-driven companies understand the importance of good old-fashioned email.

You can take advantage by simply emailing your link to friends or starting your own simple email newsletter with something like Tinyletter.

Even better, share your post with a relevant group or organization that has a large email distribution. My “Snapchat for old people” article, for instance, found its way onto some higher education marketing email newsletters.

In fact, Medium’s email digest is how I discovered your article, Jack.

Three, SEO still matters.

Google is especially important for how-to type articles and useful information that can help people when they need it, not just when you post the link. That’s why keywords and Medium tags are just as important as ever.

These two long tail tactics are important for individual articles, but they’re also important for your body of work over time.

With each exposure, you’re building up your followers and community bit by bit.

The most important element to do that is just to keep consistently keep writing good stuff. Not everything will be an Ev Williams-recommended hit. But iterate from your success and failures, and you’ll see steady growth.

Keep applying the lessons learned and your followers will take of themselves. And now you can count me among them.

Educator. Podcast addict. Wrote a book about creativity:

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