Social Networking for Writers: Hi

For the last few years, it has seemed as if our online society was moving towards a preference for brevity. Twitter instilled the notion that any idea over 140 characters was too long. Online articles went from thousands of words to a few hundred. Even Buzzfeed eliminated heavy word usage in their posts to accommodate our decreasing attention spans.


For someone who has grown up writing long, never-ending narratives, the idea of a word limit was slightly terrifying. Sure, shorter can be sweeter sometimes, but what happens when there is still something left to be said?


As predicted, the writing world showed some backlash to the idea of limiting a story, and we saw a resurgence of a higher word count. Outlets like The Verge introduced long-form sections to their outlets, The Atavist focused purely on long-form essays, and Fast Company began experimenting in continuous blogging (the idea of adding content to posts after being published).


A great notion, but long isn’t necessarily what the Internet is looking for either. There seemed to be a giant hole between quick snippets and long-form essays, and no social platform could successfully find that balance. That is, until Hi.


A relatively new social platform, Hi bills itself as “real-time journalism and storytelling.”


For me, what’s so cool about Hi is that it incorporates visual and written content, long and short – a little something for everyone.


You start with a picture (a must in today’s visually-focused, social media world), and add a caption of up to 20 words. Tag a location, and share. Simple enough, but that’s just the beginning.


Hi lets you publish in stages. The initial post is called a sketch, but the author can continue to build it out over time by adding context (up to 10,000 words) or additional photos to create a fully realized piece.


The platform realizes that life happens in stages and that great posts aren’t crafted in a single sitting. A moment in time is not necessarily complete just because an image or brief sentence has been posted online.


Sometimes, the background, the story, and the follow-up behind that “snippet” can be just as important as the moment itself. And without those pieces, followers can be left with an incomplete idea.


The ability to continuously add to your story is great, but another aspect I like almost as much is Hi’s strategy behind engagement. Public comments aren’t allowed – shocking to some, but so often the fear of negative commentary can turn writers away from posting publicly. Instead, Hi allows for private messages, and for readers to admire good work by clicking a public “thanks” button – an idea that encourages a stronger connection to the work than, say, a Facebook like.


Hi isn’t going to become the newest craze to take over social media, especially when it is competing with platform giants like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and it will certainly not become a replacement for blogging or news outlets. But Hi does provide a nice, new platform that really focuses on the beauty of visuals and a continued story.


It’s something that doesn’t exist today, and as a writer and a lover of beautiful visual, I’m excited to see how Hi unfolds.


Have you tried the platform, or something like it? Share your experience in the comments below.


Rachael Genson is an Account Executive at INK in Austin, Texas. Tweet her at @rmgenson.