Despite launching to the public just two years ago, Medium has become an increasingly popular platform for bloggers, brands and other publishers to share their thoughts and ideas.
20,000 people are creating posts on Medium every week, and 25 million people visit the site every month. That means Medium is now one of the top 500 websites in the world — and that also means they have a whole bunch of people to tell whenever they make changes to their product.
In many cases, product announcements get overlooked, but great companies find ways to use them not just as a way to communicate change, but as a tool to keep people happy and drive engagement.
Let’s take a look at how Medium does product announcements and what we can learn from their approach.
The Right Place At The Right Time
Medium recently made some key changes to their profile pages and needed to tell everyone. The easiest way to do that would have been to put up a pop-up inside of their web and mobile app, and then send an email to the entire user base alerting them of the changes.
Here’s the problem: both of those types of annoucements can be disruptive.
There’s really only two things that Medium users want to do whenever they use Medium:
- They want to read a story.
- They want to publish a story.
Without great targeting, a pop-up could be annoying and take Medium users off-task. An email blast could be irrelevant and delievered at the wrong time. You might have received the email while you were grocery shopping — not exactly the time and place that you’re thinking about publishing a new story on Medium.
So instead, Medium put a message in the most natural place: pinned right to the top of their homepage. It’s relevant, non-distruptive to Medium users, and guarantees that everyone will see it.
It’s All About Knowing Your Audience
95% of Medium’s readers are college graduates, 43% of them earn six figures or more, and 70% are under the age of 50.
Medium’s core audience is made up of tech-savvy early adopters, so when they shipped an update on December 17th — the day before the highly anticipated Star Wars movie came out — Medium dedicated their entire product announcement to Star Wars fans.
Instead of thinking of their release notes as the last thing to do before these changes went live and writing a boring, bulleted list of feature updates, Medium turned their release notes into an opportunity to delight their users.
A Fun And Friendly Tone
Most people hate change, and as a marketer, that means your back is already against the wall when you’re telling people about changes to your product. The odds are already working against you: it’s human nature to be mad at change. Remember what happened when Facebook made the switch to Timeline?
There is, however, one way to combat this: write like a human.
Medium does a great job at writing with a fun and friendly tone that matches the voice of their customers. Whenever you read a product announcement from Medium, it’s clear that they know exactly who their audience is.
Take the Star Wars product announcement for example, or this one, where they wrote the entire announcement as a “guy walks into a bar” joke:
And sometimes, for the really big ones, Medium CEO Ev Williams even writes them himself. It’s tough to get more human than that.