Tracking Data

Launching version 2 of a prototype is in some ways more nerve wracking than the first version. It’s easy to suffer from imposter syndrome at this point. Questioning lessons learned or that the positive buzz generated with the target consumer may be damaged by some changes made. Version 2 is still raw experimentation, lacking the type of conviction reinforced by data. Because of this, it’s important to implement changes from lessons learned and ship V-2 as quickly as possible to avoid these thoughts. Doubts act like anchors on action, creating analysis paralysis – the worst possible mindset for prototyping.

V-2 of the Memos Of The Future publication was titled, Memo: IoT and What’s To Come. In a previous post, Content Strategy for a Media Prototype, I discussed the change from V-1 to V-2 by switching the content length, depth and breadth of essays. The decision was primarily made based on the reader data provided by Medium’s publisher platform. Version 1, although successful in my eyes, had a lot of room for improvement.

Here is the data from V-1, ill detail below how it informed my decisions for changes made to V-2 as well as what data I’m hoping to capture.

 V-1 What are Smart Cities?
Days Active9
PublicationMedium – The Startup
Lifetime Earnings$0.51*
Lifetime Member Reading Time (H/M/S)47.55
Average Reading Time Per Member0.47
Views by Traffic Source127
Read by20 
Read Ratio16%
 Internal 65%
External referrals35%
email, IM, and direct39
Android device (not Medium app)0
* I have no idea how the earnings are tabulated at this point. It’s more of a curiosity to me than a goal.

This is a breakdown of the stats from V-1 after 9 days live. The main takeaways that led to changes was the read ratio and average reading time per reader. My thought process was that it needed to be shorter to both attract potential readers and keep them reading longer. By shortening the length of the essay it would reduce the readers commitment and hopefully bump this number up in future essays.

V-2 data after day one with the implemented changes.

Days Active1
PublicationMedium – MOTF (The Real Prototype)
Lifetime Earnings$0.12*
Livetime Member Reading Time (H/M/S)14.39
Average Reading Time Per Member0.30
Views by Traffic Source70
Read By29
Read Ratio41%
External referrals47%
email, IM, and direct14
Android device (not Medium app)4
*V-1 had $0.09 after 1 day live

V-2 was half the length of the first essay and I tailored the opening to be a little punchier. My goal was to tell the reader exactly what to expect within the essay and show a reader that did a quick browse that the clearly delineated sections were short and to the point.

Although the comparison of the two data sets doesn’t show how they match up on a day one basis, I can already tell that V-2 is performing better. What’s interesting is that V-2 performed better on an external basis after having been curated by Medium’s technology and future curation team. My hypothesis is that they are more willing to promote short and to the point content externally rather than a 13 minute essay. I also see greater value in attracting Medium’s professional curation team as opposed to internal publications. The curation team appears to have more marketing ammunition to put behind published work.

Another critical element of the second version is that I made the decision to post on the MOTF publication, the true prototype. This decision was part of the overall Hub and Spoke publishing strategy. Ie: I wanted a repository for the interconnected work and it didn’t make sense to wait. An unexpected outcome of this decision was that as an owner of a Medium publication, I was able to gather data that was previously unavailable.

The publication gives the owner access to total read time from members and non-members. Non-member read times are unavailable to writer’s on Medium. As such, it gives me a different read on V-2’s read time, moving it from 14.5 minutes to 60 minutes. This is significant because it shows that there is a potential appetite for this content on external platforms and I am now able to actively track that appetite more effectively. Previously I was blind to the significance of the external sources and now I have an ability to make use of them.

Moving forward, I will look to assess patterns that arise on platforms that drive more readers to my content. Specifically, I am interested in Flipboard as a potential external opportunity. The question: Is there an opportunity for me to share future versions on Flipboard and drive them to MOTF?

It’s too early to tell overall performance of either version yet, however I do believe that the documentation of lessons learned and alteration of approach is showing signs of success. In V-3, I will look to continue analyzing on a comparative basis and seek to establish a trend that the more content published the greater the chance of capturing an audience. Finally, I will focus on adapting the content to exploit the curation guidelines of Medium to get better external exposure and gather more data.

In closing, the launch of V-2 got me my first official follower. The person is from Saudi Arabia. The internet is a wonderful thing.

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