Blogging, unlike writing an article, is all about going “out” where the people are to engage your audience.

When we began blogging years ago we referenced what others wrote on their blogs. The technology, whether it was “trackbacks” or vanity RSS feeds, let us know if another blogger had mentioned us or what we had to say on our blog.

With the huge volume of content being produced, trackbacks and vanity RSS feeds are no longer possible.

The result is we have a whole lot of talking (writing) and no one listening. With no listening, there’s no engagement.

Don’t dismiss engagement either. It’s the stuff relationships and reputations are made of.

Believe it or not, Facebook may be the answer for bringing engagement to your blogging. God knows if you want to go where the people are on the Internet, you go to Facebook. Everyone in America is on Facebook.

How do you bring engagement to your blog via Facebook? Technologist, entrepreneur and blogger of two decades, Dave Winer (@davewiner) shared that he has started posting his blog posts in entirety to Facebook.

Why? Engagement.

First, there is no engagement on my blog. I have comments turned off.

Almost no engagement on Medium. Three people hearted my post. One highlight. No comments.

But on Facebook, even though the piece looks like crap and has no links, the post has a handful of comments and 20 reactions. I have no idea how many views, FB doesn’t provide users with that info, as far as I know.

Winer nails the need for engagement.

There’s the reason I wanted the connection. I missed knowing what people think, and getting ideas from people who read my stuff. Facebook has that.

I have started doing much the same thing. I post my whole post or at least enough of my post for people to get my point. That way people can engage me (like, comment or share) without going to my blog.

At its best, blogging is all about expressing ideas, thinking out loud, responding to what I’ve read elsewhere, meeting people I have not met before, getting to know people better, building friendships, building respect when friendship is not possible and advancing thinking in areas I am passionate about.

Facebook brings this. Blogging without taking your blog posts “out” for engagement doesn’t.

Taking your posts to Facebook doesn’t make having an independent blog site any less important. Heck, having your own blog site may be more important.

As you get out and network on Facebook you need to have a place where people can see your body of work. You need to control your content and the design of your site. You need to have your content accessible in other ways – Google searches, email sharing and other social media sharing.

I’m with Winer on bringing engagement to my blog via Facebook. I get few if any comments on my blog. But when I post to Facebook I receive a lot of engagement.

Learning, friendships, collaboration and more from blogging combined with Facebook. Give it a try.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Francois Proulx

Facebook Live could play a big role in law firm video — sooner than later.

Law firms struggle big time with video. We know video is important, but what the heck are we supposed to do? What equipment do we need? What should we cover? Where should we run the video? How will the video get seen?

Out for only two months, Live has proven popular for media companies the likes of The New York Times, CNN, Huffington Post and Vox.

Check out this Live video from The New York Times’s Nicholas Kristof reporter one Friday following up on his story in Thursday’s paper. The quality, look and feel is awful nice.

Facebook Live answers a lot of questions.

  • What equipment do we need? A mobile phone with a good camera and mic. An iPhone 6 Plus works nicely.
  • How can people see our videos on mobile? Facebook is all about mobile with its mobile app. Live is no different, video is viewed wonderfully on a smartphone or tablet.
  • How are our videos going to get seen? Facebook’ Live videos, by their nature can be seen live, but in most cases viewers will watch an archived Live video on Facebook.
  • How will people in our target audience become aware of the videos? For those lawyers and law firms wise enough to be using Facebook to connect, share and engage, notice that you are on Live and that you have an archived video will sit at the top of people’s News Feeds. Facebook is pushing Live so videos done on Live are given preferential treatment by Facebook algorithms.

Why Facebook and not your website for video? The numbers and the way people consume video. Facebook has over 1.3 billion users, including about 80% of your target audience. The fact that your lawyers and law firm are not using Facebook is your fault and an issue that ought to be rectified.

Your audience is not watching video on law firm websites. You can put video on your website, but your audience is more apt to see and watch video where they are – 0n social media like Facebook.

There’s the social distribution of Facebook as well. As people like, share, and comment upon your video, Facebook’s algorithms see to it that your video will get to others’ News Feeds.

Liz Heron, executive producer of the Huffington Post told The New York Times “This feels like a transformative step.” They’ve recently restructured its video production to favor social media distribution after streaming video through its website since 2012.

Just how big is live video becoming on Facebook. The NFL was considering having Facebook livstream its Thursday night games. Negotiations broke off this week when Facebook didn’t like the NFL’s traditional method of running ads.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Doctor Popular

Law students, like lawyers, are quick to dismiss Facebook as a vehicle for publishing, networking and creating a professional profile for employment.

Big mistake. Facebook, for those who seize the opportunity, is an excellent place to learn, nurture relationships and build a strong word of mouth reputation.

While LinkedIn may be the most widely examined social network by potential employers, Facebook is used by over 75% of the people in this country.  According to a September 2015 study done by the Society for Human Resource Management, 19% of companies had sourced new hires from Facebook. And almost 25% of HR professionals thought it was important to be on Facebook when looking for a job.

Business development and marketing consultant, Matt Sweetwood (@msweetwood), in a piece in the Huffington Post, shared nine tips on how jobseekers should be using Facebook.

I’ll add one and share my thoughts.

  • Be Professional Your Facebook page should look serious and be representative of you are. Make sure your profile is completely filled out, just as you would complete a LinkedIn profile. Facebook’s profile provides an even greater opportunity than LinkedIn to share information on your background and current status. Do not post things you wouldn’t want employers to see. Partying, vulgarity and drinking are great on Facebook if they are what you would tell an employer about or show them picture of.

Keep in mind what a survey of over 900 hiring managers observed from potential candidate’s social media:

Facebook for law students

  • Smart Security Allow your posts to be publicly visible. There should be nothing in your timeline that you would be afraid of people seeing. Like it or not, the net has made much of our lives an open book. Attempting to conceal items can be looked at with suspicion. At the same time, go to the setting: “Who can add things to my timeline?” and set to “only me.” Turn on approval of all tags before they appear on your timeline. You don’t want other people’s comments when they have tagged you to appear on your timeline without your moderation.
  • Be Friendly Friend people who may add value to your life based on the items they may be sharing, whether the items are personal or professional. This will include people you do not know personally. Accept friendship requests in the same fashion. Will the person add value to your life by you getting to know them and seeing the items they share? Nurturing relationships and learning from others can be a strong guide.
  • Publish In addition to blogging on your own publication, Facebook is an excellent place to publish in short form. Four to six paragraphs , two to three hundred words or more is fine. The easiest way to do this is to share a link to a news story or legal development you have read. Then pen a piece on why you shared it, why you found it interesting and what you think it means to people. Not everything you share will appear in the News Feed of all of your Facebook friends. As you use Facebook more, your personal friends, family members and other people who have no interest in such things will never see your posts on legal matters. At the same, you will be building your influence in the area.
  • No Politics Politics and religion ought to be off limits. No matter how strong your beliefs, you will offend a good number of people who differ. Worse yet you’ll be drawn into heated discussions in which there are often no winners.
  • No Whining and Complaining Face your problems, don’t Facebook them, per Sweetwood. Whining about a company may may feel good for a minute or two, but employers are not looking to hire those who complain. Potential Facebook friends do want to befriend whiners. Complaining will also limit likes, comments and sharing of your posts, ultimately reducing your influence on Facebook and limiting those who see your posts in their News Feeds.
  • Great Profile and Cover Photos If your profile picture is embarrassing or tasteless, change it. At the same time, Facebook is not LinkedIn, you don’t need a professional headshot. Have an interesting and engaging photo that presents you in a positive light. Change your cover photo, that sits above your profile picture, from time to time with pictures you like and are proud of. Perhaps family, local scenery or people or geography – think pride, fun and engaging.
  • Always Post with a Picture Everything you share ought to have a picture. People are attracted to stories which include pictures. No pictures mean less engagement and less influence. You’ll look boring and out of touch with best practices. News stories and blog posts you share with a link ought to automatically pull in the picture from the source. Share pictures you take with a brief description of the event, the people or the place.
  • Be Interesting and Informative Share things that you believe others would find of value. Know that even personal items people enjoy as they are getting to know you and what you value. Facebook has become the front page of the newspaper for many people in this country. As you read things in the news and as part of your learning experiences that you believe interesting, share them with your take. Lawyers share on Facebook news stories and blog posts regarding legal matters and events. These items draw significant engagement. Follow their lead, success leaves clues. Share personal items as well. Gatherings with friends and family, law school events and things that you’ve enjoyed. People like to get to know people.
  • English 101 Spelling and grammar are important. Read over what you’ve written and go back and edit items. Communication skills are among the most important skills employers want to see — including on social media. Keep the “ROTFLOL”s to a minimum.

Getting a job as a law grad is tough. Yet most grads do the same things as everyone else. Law school placement offices are more apt to talk about the hazards of Facebook and social media than the opportunities they present.

Doing what others do not do separates you from the pack. It’s that separation and drive which legal employers are looking for. Knowing you’ll do what it takes too get a job tells them you’ll do what it takes to  grow business, something most law grads are woefully unprepared to do.

Facebook announced Wednesday afternoon that its Instant Articles feature will be made available to all publishers come Aptil 12. Publishers include law firms and other professional services firms publishing interesting news, insight and commentary.

Until now, Instant Articles was limited to select publishers such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, BBC News, BuzzFeed, The Guardian, National Geographic and NBC.

Instant Articles enables a publisher or news organization to select articles they want to publish directly to Facebook, as opposed to merely sharing a link on Facebook to an article on their own site. Facebook users then view the entire article with the Facebook app with formatting similar to the publisher’s site.

Facebook Instant Articles

Instant Articles was ostensibly built to solve the problem of slow loading times which created problems for people reading news on their phones. No question articles running on the feature load at lightening speed, about 10 times faster than standard mobile Web posts. It’s an eloquent experience with articles instantly slid off to the side when done reading.

I say ostensibly as major publishers looked at Instant Articles as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Major publishers, who get their revenue from advertising on their sites saw publishing on Facebook as giving up that revenue. Facebook and the advertisers ultimately worked out a split of the Facebook ad revenue as well as an agreement allowing publishers to embed ads in their content published on Facebook.

Facebook Product manager Josh Roberts said in a blog post:

Media organizations and journalists are an integral part of Facebook, and we’re committed to delivering products that will create the best experience for publishers and their readers. With Instant Articles, publishers have full control over the look of their stories, as well as data and ads. They have the ability to bring their own direct-sold ads and keep 100 percent of the revenue, and track data on the ads served through their existing ad-measurement systems, or they can monetize their content through the Facebook Audience Network. Additionally, publishers can use their existing Web-based analytics systems to track article traffic or use third-party providers. They can do all this while accessing a rich suite of multimedia tools to create dynamic, interactive stories that will load quickly everywhere on Facebook, regardless of where in the world their readers are.

Roberts also detailed how publishers can get started with Instant Articles after April 12.

We’ve made it easy for publishers to join by building a system based on the tools they already use. Instant Articles uses the languages of the Web and works with publishers’ content-management systems, and we have documented an open standard that is easy for publishers to adopt. We encourage all interested publishers to review our documentation and prepare for open availability in April, at which point they will be able to share this fast, interactive experience with their readers.

What’s this mean for blogging lawyers and other professionals? Facebook will not operate as a wasteland for content of marginal value. Algorithms will see that such content never sees the light of day.

Little question professionals who measure publishing succcess in traffic numbers versus reputation and relationship building will look to automatically push their content into Instant Articles. It’ll be a waste of time and may even impact them negatively so that anything they say or publish on Facebook is punished.

As Casey Newton (@caseynewton) of The Verge reports, publishers will not flick a switch to get their content on Instant Articles.

Independent blogs and newspapers are still unlikely to create Instant Article feeds of their own. While Facebook says they have worked to simplify the process, creating what amounts to a custom RSS feed with unique HTML-like elements still requires a level of technical expertise that many publishers still lack. More interesting would be if publishing platforms like WordPress, Medium, or Tumblr enable the automatic posting of Instant Articles to Facebook. Until then, publishers interested in developing for the format can start reading up on how they’re created.

We’ve been discussing internally at LexBlog publishing the best of our network’s posts on Facebook. We’ve done so on a limited basis to date, but have recently discussed expanding our Facebook postings so as to be ready for the day Instant Articles was opened to everyone. We’d do it to get quality legal insight and commentary out to the public as well to shine a light on our network’s best posts and bloggers.

LexBlog Network publishing on Facebook Instant Articles will likely happen. The logistics from a technical aspect will need to be nailed down to provide for the presentation of the elements Facebook allows in its interface. We’ll want our publishers’ posts to be displayed as eloquently as content from the New York Times or Harvard Business Review.

With 9,000 bloggers we also need to do things in a way that scales, can be upgraded, provides high performance and that’s secure. A curation aspect may be desirable. Not even major publishers are auto-feeding all of their articles onto Instant Articles.

In regard to individual blogs publishing to Instant Articles, we’ll start discussions on technology and how such a feature could be included in our three offerings.

Opening Facebook Instant Artcles to all publishers is good news. For publishers and their software providers, such as LexBlog, the devil will be in the details. Racing to “push” content onto Facebook will not be the answer.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jereme Rauckman

Publishing on a non-mobile blog? You may want to think again.

The Next Web’s Napier Lopez (@napilopez) reported yesterday that 90% of Facebook’s daily active users access it via mobile.

Facebook just released financial results for Q4 of 2015, and one number starts out in particular: 934 million mobile daily active users (DAUs).

Sure, 0.9 billion might not sound quite as impressive as the 1.04 billion total daily users, but we already knew the company had passed the billion milestone in early November.

There were 894 million mobile DAUs at the time, which means the company has added 40 million more mobile users per day since November, and it will very likely cross 1 billion mobile DAUs sometime this year.

Facebook users are not only sharing personal pictures and stories, but are also sharing news stories and information. Some of these stories are published directly as an update on Facebook. Other stories are published on third party sites/blogs and shared with a link — a link that opens the third party site/blog in the Facebook interface.

What does this mean for you as a blogger? That you must be publishing to a mobile enabled interface, preferably a responsive design. Otherwise your content cannot be viewed by a good portion of your target audience – that’s those reading content on mobile devices.

I am not suggesting that your audience is all coming via Facebook. I am suggesting that Facebook’s mobile numbers signal where people are accessing social networks and content though. It’s on mobile devices.

I recently shared that LinkedIn’s updated mobile app caused a huge jump in referral traffic to news sites and blogs. The reason being that so many people were consuming news and information on LinkedIn via mobile devices.

It’s a mobile world today. You may be publishing your blog from a computer, but your blog is being consumed on mobile devices.

You should take no comfort in web stats which may indicate you have more viewers coming from non-mobile devices. Good content moves via social media even more than via search today. Content moves on social media via mobile. If your blog is not mobile optimized ala responsive, your blog is not going to move well via social media.

Facebook is almost an Internet in and of itself. It’s shaping our behavior as well as signaling what’s to come. Here it’s signaling mobile first when it comes to publishing.

Image courtesy of Flickr by F.D. Richards

Law firm managing partners and other law firm leaders are largely absent from Facebook — at least as a means of connecting and engaging with younger professionals. Younger profesdionals including lawyers and other legal professionals at their firm.

Perhaps not the perfect example, but Cambodian journalist, Bopha Phorn (@bophaphorn) reports that 63-year old Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has taken to Facebook in a big way.

Why? One-third of Cambodians now have Internet access, and most of them are using Facebook. Especially younger people.

Government spokesperson Sok Eysan says Hun Sen’s Facebook account is simply a way to connect directly with the Cambodian people.

He set up electronic communication because he wants to be close to people. He also wants to know from people if they have any problems or concerns living under the leadership of the government, so he could be aware of the problem. Then he could solve the problem.

The prime minister has opened up to the public. Not only to the CPP’s members and supporters, but other people including opposition party supporters. If they have a request or have problems in their lives, they can inform the prime minister, so he could solve their problems.

Ou Virak, president of the Future Forum think tank, told Phorn that Hun Sen realizes that younger people do not even watch TV.

Before, he solely relied on TV. He thought that it would be enough, so he talked on TV for hours. But the 2013 election was a warning sign for him that it is not enough.

So Hun Sen is expanding his social media presence in an effort to engage. In a post last week, he declared that his page would be a “peace Facebook page, which promotes freedom and actions contributing to the development of the society.”

We’re not talking an elected official or television appearances in the case of law firm leaders, but the point’s the same. Younger people are more apt to hear you on Facebook than on traditional means of communication such as emails, intranets and other announcements. You’re connecting and engaging with people, as opposed to broadcasting.

Law firms can be tough places today — for young lawyers, law firm executives and other professionals. Leadership that leads by connecting with people in a real and authentic way can mean a lot to everyone.

A lot of money is spent on marketing, business development and public relations. All good, but why not use a the medium used by more people than any other — Facebook.

Facebook can be an uncomfortable place to start with and I am not comparing managing partners to Hun Sen, but if you’re looking for a channel to connect with young professionals, you could do a lot worse than Facebook.

In a call to investors last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook has hit 8 billion video views a day, up from 4 billion in April.

I am experiencing this growth firsthand. I posted on Facebook earlier this week a brief video interview I did with Seattle University Law student, Miguel Willis (@MiguelElCapiTon), regarding the Social Justice Hackathon. The next day the video had been viewed over 1,100 times.

TechCrunch’s Josh Constine (@joshconstine) reporting on Zuckerberg’s call says to expect video on Facebook only to grow.

The company aims to connect users and help them share what they care about. Video is becoming the top way to share. That’s in part because the vivid format is aided by the proliferation of mobile phones with powerful video cameras, expansion of storage on these phones and computers, and faster mobile networks to upload and watch these videos. Facebook thrived by embracing photos back around 2005, and now it wants to ride the video wave.

We’re not talking childish videos. COO Sheryl Sandberg, per Constine, said that 1.5 million small and medium-sized businesses shared videos in September.

Over the last year, I’ve been conducting brief video interviews at legal events around the country which I post to Facebook. LegalTech Show, ABA TechShow, Texas Bar Association Annual Meeting, law school programs, Clio Cloud Conference and the Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference to name some of them.

I pull out my iPhone 6s, select an interesting person my followers may like to hear from and do a two- to three-minute interview. I begin asking who they are, what they do and why they are at the conference. Depending on the responses, that may be enough to get a full interview.

I feel a little silly playing junior journalist, but the HD camera on my phone is outstanding and so is the sound from the built-in microphone. Uploading the video, with accompanying text a paragraph or two long, is as easy as posting a picture to Facebook.

Before Facebook and video with my iPhone, I never used video. What video camera would I use? What editing software would I use? How would I upload the video to YouTube? Too much time and I didn’t need the hassle.

With Facebook videos from my iPhone, I do no editing. No intro’s, no snappy audio to begin and end, just shoot and upload. The video is running on Facebook within minutes.

Rather than worrying about how people are going to see the video, my social network on Facebook—as well as the social network of others—gets the video in the News Feed of people who may have an interest in the video.

As with with other posts to Facebook, likes, comments and shares drive engagement among those you know and those you’d like to get to know. As with other content posted online, it’s not always the copy or video itself that’s most important, it’s the engagement which ensues which drives word of mouth and relationships.

We’re seeing an explosion of video online. Facebook, because of its ease of use, built-in audience and distribution channel is going to be an obvious choice for millions of people and businesses.

Lawyers and law firms would be well-advised to learn how to build a social network on Facebook—and then how to use video to build relationships and a reputation.

Though referral traffic from Facebook to third party sites may be plummeting, lawyers using Facebook may have little to worry about.

As reported over the weekend by Lucia Moses of Digiday, referral traffic (desktop + mobile) to the top 30 Facebook publishers plunged 32 percent from January to October.

The bigger the publisher, the heavier the hit.

The Huffington Post’s Facebook traffic fell 60.1 percent, to 16 million. Fox News’ dropped 48.2 percent to 4.3 million. BuzzFeed’s Facebook visits fell 40.8 percent to 23.7 million.

Why the decline?

…[T]he most common theory is that as Facebook has been trying to keep users in its ecosystem, it’s encouraged publishers to upload their articles and videos directly to the social network, whether it’s video or its Instant Articles feature that began rolling out in May. That means fewer traditional links in news feeds that take people back to publisher sites.

Publishers need traffic numbers to generate advertising revenue. Not the case with lawyers and law firms.

The drop in Facebook referral traffic may be bad news for those legal marketers and lawyers who look at Facebook as just another way to garner traffic to their blogs and websites. They’re looking for users to click on links to their content and go to their blogs and sites to read the content.

On the other hand, for those lawyers who get their work by virtue of word of mouth reputations and relationships, a drop in referral traffic from Facebook means little, if anything. Content is the currency of engagement for these lawyers, no matter where the content is viewed.

Such lawyers use Facebook as a vehicle to build their reputation and build relationships. Facebook represents an opportunity to network with their audience of clients, perspective clients, referral sources and the influencers of these three. Better to be out networking than to passively watch people read your content on your site.

These lawyers know that Facebook users can read excepts of their content or a complete article on Facebook. Leaving Facebook to read content is neither needed nor preferable for an optimal user experience.

These lawyers also know through likes, comments and shares, content posted to Facebook, whether their own or a third party’s, leads to engage with users. It’s this engagement which builds word of mouth and relationships.

As reported by Business Insider, a recent study by Oxford University’s Reuters Institute, Internet users are turning to Facebook to find, post, read, share, or discuss news.

While news consumption on Facebook only jumped from 37% to 40% of Internet users in the U.S., 44% of Internet users in Denmark turn to Facebook for news, up 13 percentage points from last yeat.Nernst users consume news on Facebook

Think about it. Internet users — your clients, prospective clients and referral sources are turning to Facebook to find, read, post, share and discuss the news.

And who produces the news is no longer limited to the mainstream news media. News and information is broadly published today by trusted authorities covering niches. Among these niche publishers are lawyers just like you.

Think about it. The leading news publications on China law, cannabis law and food safety are published by Seattle law firms. How about the leading news sites on FMLA, cruise law and Connecticut employment law? All of these news sites are published by lawyers.

Where are these niche news publications going to be read in the years ahead? Increasingly on Facebook.

Hey, a couple years ago I was the first guy to proclaim it was lunacy to think some people were getting real news on Facebook. I said never me.

Today, Facebook is one of the leading sources of my news. And best of all, I get to engage the publisher via likes and comments.

I wrote last week that Facebook represents an opportunity for law firms to share their publishing. This is why.

Law firms produce an awful lot of content. Blogs, newsletters, mini-sites, alerts, you name it.

Though some bloggers have built a healthy list of RSS subscribers, most law firm publications are distributed to users by Google search, email subscription and, in the case of larger law firms, distribution services.

Law firms may be missing an opportunity to extend the reach of their publications.

Look at the most shared media sites on Facebook for the last month. These media sites largeley represent leading news sources, not quirky entertainment sources.

Facebook sharing of legal publications

For the news media, Facebook is becoming their most important means of online distribution. No wonder, 71% of adults use Facebook today—and not just for exchanging pictures and social notes.

Per the Pew Research Center on Journalism and Media, 63% of Facebook users now say that the platform serves as a source for news about events and issues outside the realm of friends and family. That share has increased substantially from 2013, when about half of users said they got news from Facebook.

It’s not easy to get your firm’s publications shared on Facebook. No one appreciates you auto-sharing each post or alert. Posting to a law firm Facebook page garners little traction.

Writing interesting and timely pieces comes first. Second is the personal use of Facebook by the law firm’s publisher—the lawyers. The lawyers share to their personal Facebook account their posts with an excerpt of the post and, in some cases, the entire post.

Seeing how important Facebook had become, The New York Times has begun requiring its reporters and editors to use their personal Facebooks to share media—their own stories and others’ stories.

It’s the sharing of others’ stories that gives one credibility—it’s not all about you and your publishing.

I have befriended on Facebook reporters and editors from The New York Times, National Geographic, Digiday, The Wall Street Journal, Time, and the like.

I do this not because I am their beer buddy, heck I don’t know them personally. I do so to improve the quality of information and news I receive on Facebook. They befriend me as Facebook is a means for them to distribute their content, personally.

I also befriend on Facebook bloggers from the legal, publishing, technology and marketing verticals. Again, these folks are looking to distribute their posts and I am looking for valuable news and information.

In addition to distribution alone, lawyers distributing their content on Facebook will grow their influence as Facebook users like and share their content and comment on what the lawyer is sharing. Over time, those lawyers who establish influence as an authority on Facebook will have more of their content displayed in others’ News Feeds, when relevant.

Bottom line, Facebook represents an increasingly important method of distributing your legal publications.

Rather than dismissing Facebook as something to be used for only personal exchanges, law firms would be wise to follow the lead of the news media.