Medium Gets Personal with Real-Time Video Responses on Twitter

March 11, 2015

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Meryl Ayres


On February 10, 2015, the User Happiness team at Medium kicked off the #AskMedium campaign.

When followers used the hashtag and asked Medium questions via Twitter, Nick, Greg, and Luke replied with real-time video responses. They fielded everything from “What’s the most read story ever posted on Medium?” to “How do you see a musical group utilizing Medium effectively?” to “Where’d you guys get those boss hardhats?”

Their video responses were concise, witty, and often musical.

We spoke with Medium’s community manager, Nick Fisher, about their motivation behind the lo-fi video campaign, their largest challenges, and their results.

Q: Why did you decide to explore using video on Twitter? I know you were inspired by this post, but beyond that, what was your reasoning?

NF: We were looking for ways to make Medium more accessible and human. Video seemed like a perfect way to show people who was behind @Medium. Plus, my two teammates were both in a band in the late ’90s and wanted an excuse to relive their glory days.

#AskMedium was actually part of a larger experiment that we conducted where we did one out-of-the-ordinary thing on our Twitter account every day for a week.

“We were looking for ways to make Medium more accessible and human. Video seemed like a perfect way to show people who was behind @Medium.”

Q: Have you noticed any other companies using video on social in interesting ways?

NF: Not Twitter video specifically, but I’m really impressed with how some brands are using Vine. Oreo, Airbnb, and Taco Bell are some good examples.

Q: How has it worked so far? What have been the largest challenges? Most exciting results?

NF: So far the response has been fantastic. However, the reach has been limited because most of the questions are hidden behind a @reply. We have been experimenting with the perfect balance between public/private replies.

It’s challenging because Twitter video is very limited. If we decide something should actually be a public tweet after the fact, we have to delete the tweet and reshoot it. The other major challenge is coming up with new schticks quickly.

Q: How many people were involved with the #AskMedium shoots? How did you decide who would be on camera?

NF: Our User Happiness team made all the videos. There are three of us. We work collaboratively and come up with ideas on the fly. Often, we will just arbitrarily choose one or two of us to be on camera. If it seems like it’s not working, we frequently change roles. Again, we are limited by Twitter video because you have to hold down the record button, someone always has to be the cameraperson.

The videos where you see all three of us are either multiple takes or utilizing the front facing camera. We also like to rope in other people from the company, especially if the question is relevant to their role.

Q: What did you use to shoot the videos?

NF: Twitter video can only be posted via their iOS client on an iPhone, so that’s what we use. I think part of the charm is that it’s so lo-fi. We do need to get an external mic to improve the audio though. While I like the constraint, it would be nice to upload videos. Just so we could actually edit them or do voiceovers.

“I think part of the charm is that it’s so lo-fi. We do need to get an external mic to improve the audio though.”

Q: Have you used video in other ways to help foster community or scale communication?

NF: We haven’t yet but are cooking up some new ideas as we speak. Coming soon!

Q: What are your thoughts about the future of #AskMedium? Do you see it evolving in any particular way?

NF: I worry it will get stale. The internet has a notoriously short attention span. We would love to involve writers and the community more, but again since you can’t upload video (and drafts are saved client side) this is a challenge at the moment. We want to expand onto YouTube and Facebook to get around this.

We also are constantly bouncing schtick ideas off of each other to keep things fresh. Ideally, #AskMedium would become a weekly feature on our Twitter account.

We’re always on the lookout for companies using video to make their brands feel more human, and we were super impressed by Medium’s scrappy, experimental spirit. Have you seen any great examples of companies experimenting with lo-fi video on social media? Join the discussion!

Note: Since conducting this interview, Twitter has rolled out the ability to upload any video from your phone.

Meryl Ayres


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