The Striking Similarities between Medium and YouTube Content
Because first impressions do count and make the difference between clicking or discarding.
I was binge-reading written content on Medium the other day. Halfway through the article, the writer asked me if I remembered what the title of his piece was. Now I did, but it got me thinking.
The title, subtitle, and featured image are the first things you see when open the Medium app and hunt your homepage for worthy-to-read pieces. Ideally, the featured image is a perfect addition to these short but intriguing lines, making you inclined to click.
Once you click, the writer passed the first hurdle. The next challenge is to get you to continue reading. To do so, the writer must entertain, inform, make you laugh, or teach you something new.
If a reader doesn’t click the article, the words inside it will never be read. You, as the writer, will miss out on an opportunity to receive feedback on your work. Your words won’t get the chance to do anything but aimlessly float around in envy of other texts that do get eaten up like strawberry pancakes during a Sunday brunch with the family.
I thought of YouTube, and how this applies equally much. You can spend weeks or months on the video of your life. If you however don’t bother to update the title from the default file name that YouTube takes to something more enticing, or call it “Video asdf” because you felt uninspired, who will care? It does not intrigue, it says nothing about the content.
The same with the thumbnail. Compare it to walking in a bookstore. A book cover needs to draw you in somehow if it wants to have a chance of being picked up by you by chance, and read amongst the countless other titles it competes with.
Even if you slave away on a video for ages: if your thumbnail and title suck, not a soul will click on it and therefore not watch it. Or worse: deceive them with a clickbaity-title. Once they get deeper into your content, and they realize you were lying to them? They will be out just as fast as they arrived. Your work won’t get a chance from them in the future.
This insight emphasizes the importance to me of wrapping the content of your article (or video) in a proper frame: the title and subtitle. On YouTube, the thumbnail plays a huge role too. Give a preview of what readers can expect, without being misleading.
Placing your content online in a corner of the internet doesn’t guarantee exposure. Your content should at least get a shot at getting shared with the world.