What Not to Do Immediately After Publishing
Why you might want to wait a bit before promoting your article on social media
A goal most Medium writers strive for when they publish an article behind the paywall is to be “selected for further distribution.” In the old days (before about October 2020) this was known as “getting curated.” If your article is selected for further distribution, its chances increase for
- Showing up on member home pages
- Showing up on the topic page for whichever topic the article covers. (If you’re not familiar with topic pages, here’s the topic page for Books so you can see what one looks like. Here’s a list of topics on Medium.)
- Showing up in the Medium Daily Digest
Therefore, your article gets in front of more eyeballs, and your earnings increase. Your chances of the article going viral increase as well.
Distribution is not the only way for an article to be seen
You don’t have to rely solely on distribution to get your article in front of a large number of readers. Another strategy is to have the article accepted by a publication in line with your article’s topic. Here’s a list of top publications on the Medium platform
You also have the option of self-publishing your article. In my opinion, self-publishing is underrated. There’s no wait time to be accepted by a publication, and you don’t have an editor rewriting what you wrote. However, if you self-publish, the onus is on you to self-promote your work.
LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are all popular places to self-promote your latest articles. On Facebook, there are groups for Medium writers that have daily threads where you can share your latest article. This is an easy way for others to discover your work, and to discover you personally as a writer. Three of my favorite groups that offer daily link threads are
You have to apply to join these groups, but it’s not hard to be accepted. They just want to verify you’re a Medium member (paid and free Medium members both accepted) and have you promise to read group rules before you post.
For many up-and-coming writers, participation in these groups is part of building a following. Drop your link, read a couple of other articles by other authors, and if you like them, leave some claps, a comment, and maybe follow the writer.
However, due to changes Medium has made in distribution practices, you might not want to drop a link to your article immediately after you publish it, or after you receive word that a publication has published it. Read on to find out why.
Curation on Medium back in the good old days
(Prior to October 2000)
When you published a new article, it would go into the queue for human curators to examine. They would look for certain qualities in your article to determine if it was worthy of further distribution on the platform. These included
- Title, subtitle, and featured image that would compel the reader to click into the story and read more
- A featured image that was of high quality, not overused on the Medium platform, and had attribution to the image’s owner (or “Photo by author” if the article’s owner supplied the image)
- Good grammar (running the article through Grammarly can help with that)
- Attractively laid out, with section heads, subsection heads, separators, and images to break up the monotony and add whitespace
- Sources cited to back up assertions in the article
It tended to take anywhere from an hour to two weeks for an article to be curated. However, articles in the large publications (The Startup, The Ascent, Better Marketing, for example) seemed to get automatically curated upon publication.
The new system: Bot curation
Since about October 2000, the largest publications have retained their ability to curate articles — or select them for further distribution, as it’s now called. As for all others, it appears that Medium’s algorithms examine the newly published articles and pick the ones that receive further distribution. This is known as “bot curation” to Medium users.
As Sarene B. Arias points out in her excellent article What Does Medium’s Increase in Bot Curation Mean for You?, the algorithms tend to take about an hour after you publish to decide whether to pick your article for further distribution. What’s happening in that hour?
According to Arias, and what I have read from other sources as well, the algorithm looks for a ratio of views to reads to read times to claps. She says this is a “signature” that says people are genuinely reading the article carefully all the way through and finding value in it. If your first hour’s worth of readers finds value, the bots apparently reason, subsequent readers will too.
Why link submission to Facebook writing groups can derail your chance of bot curation
Last month I wrote an entire article about Facebook writing groups as places to share your work, listing the pros and cons. Among the “cons” was that people who click through to your articles usually don’t read them carefully all the way through.
I know I’m guilty of this. My typical day as a writer goes something like this. (Times are US-Central if it matters)
- The night before: Write a new article
- 5:30 AM: Proofread, edit, proofread again, select tags
- 6:00 AM: Publish
- 6:05 AM: Drop links to each of my three Facebook Medium writing groups, and read a couple of other writers’ articles in each in order to be a good citizen of that group
- 6:30 AM: Get ready for work
With only about 25 minutes allotted to read 6 articles (2 from each writing group) I’m in a rush. I will typically find a title that looks interesting — or a writer I know to be good — and click through to their posted article. I will usually skim the intro, the subheads, anything that’s a quote or in bold, and the conclusion. If I like what I see, I will go back and read it carefully, all the way through. But that’s not guaranteed.
I hate to say it, but I believe most members of those Facebook groups do the same thing I do. That throws off your views-to-reads-to-read time ratio that the bot curators are looking for.
So, how to post links to Facebook AND satisfy the bot curators?
Simple. Alter your publication schedule.
Ideally, for your article that you publish on Wednesday, wait until Thursday to post it to social media. This is true not only for Facebook writing groups, but for sharing links to Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms as well.
If you can’t wait until the next day, at least wait two hours before you post links to social media. That should give the bots enough time to make their decision.
But wait, isn’t this kind of like, “gaming the system”?
Sure it is. Also, I don’t care.
I look at Medium as one big video game anyway, and I know I’m not the only one who takes that approach. I’m here to get a high score — not because I want to type my initials and have them displayed on the high score screen, but because I want my high score displayed on the screen when I check my bank balance.
Those of you who share links regularly to Facebook groups or other social outlets, give this a try. If it improves your distribution (or if it doesn't), let me know in the comments.
Let’s keep in touch! Feel free to sign up for my newsletter. Here’s a link to my full article on the pros and cons of Facebook groups for Medium writers: