We are incredibly proud of how much our community has grown and accomplished in the last 10 months. We have created a platform for millennials to engage in smart discussion unlike anywhere else on the web and reach a huge audience. We are impressed, and humbled, by the high quality conversations which millennials are having on PolicyMic about the most important political and cultural issues every single day. That excitement has translated into real momentum and a growing community: We began the year at 100K monthly unique visitors, and yesterday we surpassed 5 million monthly unique visitors. In addition, we’ve grown from several hundred pundits to 1,500 pundits in 45 countries, and our team has expanded from 4 people to 9 full-time.
We have big plans to continue to grow into the place where millennials go to read, discuss, and report the news. We wanted to share some reflections about what we're doing, why we've been successful thus far, and how we plan on continuing to grow moving forward:
1) We are giving young people a voice. Millennials have largely been left out of the national conversation this year. Their opinions and perspective have been ignored, and the candidates have spent almost no time engaging them. Our mission is it to be a platform for millennials to express their opinion and reach a huge audience. We are engaging a generation that is sick of politics as usual, and doesn’t trust large institutions which don't seem to be listening to us, like government, the media, and corporations. Last night, millennials voted at higher rates than they did in 2008, proving that we are motivated and enthusiastic, but still need a platform to get engaged.
2) Our community comes first. We believe one of the best things about the internet is that it lets us learn from and talk to interesting people. From AIM, to Facebook, to Reddit, to Twitter, we are attracted to social platforms because they teach, inform, and entertain us while allowing us to share our ideas with others. In many ways, online media has failed to incorporate the best of online communities. At PolicyMic, fostering smart community is what we work on every day.
By focusing on the community and providing value to our members, we’ve engaged millennials in discussions that many said were impossible. On the tech side, we’ve built a platform that allows the community to democratically promote the brightest thinkers. On the editorial side, we spend hours giving feedback to our top pundits and recruiting others who we believe will add valuable perspectives to our discussions. Perhaps most importantly, we listen to our community. We're receptive to feedback and criticism. A healthy community takes time and effort to build and will ultimately be the measure of our success.
3) We believe in quality. While many in online publishing are moving towards tabloid-style news, we are doing the opposite. We think there is huge demand, especially among millennials, for thought-provoking analysis and discussion that teaches, informs, and sparks conversation. Of course, we have our fair share of stories using memes, Gifs, and jokes, but we use these tools to tell stories about important topics and highlight deeper questions, not to dumb down and ignore serious issues.
In the beginning, many people asked us, “Don’t millennials only care about Snooki and cat videos? How many really want to talk about politics, culture, or the arts? Isn’t that only for Ivy League kids?" We’ve seen the opposite trend. Young people actually want to talk about issues like tax rates, the best fiction books, and the economy in a smart way.
4) Our team is full of rockstars. On the editorial side, our team is made up of diverse innovators who share a passion for smart conversation. Our editors are thought leaders, teachers, and community managers at the same time. They take pride in engaging and teaching all of our pundits on a daily basis. They are some of the most thoughtful and hardest working group of people we've ever met.
On the tech side, our team is supported by a super-talented developer who moved to America to get away from the failed politics in Eastern Europe. He is deeply passionate about PolicyMic's mission. We’re taking a fresh approach to building products and tools for our community – all from scratch – to foster a totally unique online community.
This is only the beginning. We have a lot to learn and a lot of work to do to build our vision. On the editorial side we will work hard on building out our team and growing into new verticals. Not only do we plan to ramp up our cultural coverage, but we also will branch out into more millennials-focused science, and technology verticals. We will work hard on improving our analytics system to better train our editors and pundits how to improve every day. And, we'll put an emphasis on mastering Facebook, by writing smart, but shareable stories which will help PolicyMic reach new readers.
On the tech side, we are building better tools for our pundits to publish engaging multimedia stories. We're also working on improving the commenting system, adding deeper moderation tools, and building a more advanced level-system that continues to promote our best community-members. Finally, in 2013, we'll be releasing a mobile app for users to keep the conversation going on the go.
We are incredibly grateful to our community, readers, and advisors for the support, feedback, and enthusiasm. We’re proud to be on this journey together.
Chris, Jake, and the PolicyMic Team