By Kevin O'Keefe

Does legal publishing have a future on Facebook?

Could we see more law reviews, law blogs, legal newspapers, and other legal publications expanding to Facebook to increase circulation? Maybe even publish solely on Facebook and forgo their own print publication or online site?

This past weekend’s widely discussed story about the Rockville Central, a community news outlet for the DC-area city of Rockville, Maryland, moving its entire operation to Facebook page got me thinking about it.

From Megan Garber of Nieman Lab reporting on the Rockville Central move:

There are some obvious benefits to the all-Facebook approach. Facebook, for one, has a huge built-in audience — one that is used to sharing and commenting on and contributing content. It has a built-in infrastructure — one that easily accommodates multimedia. It has, essentially, a built-in mobile app. For an outlet that’s run by people who do that running in their spare time — that is, publishers who have even less time than most to deal with concerns about site design, server capacity, and other logistical aspects of digital journalism — Facebook’s insta-infrastructure could free up time that may be spent on more traditionally journalistic endeavors: fact-gathering, conversation-guiding, content-aggregating, community-building, etc.

Brad Rourke, the site’s founder, points out the obvious attraction of Facebook. “Why have a separate site, and try to drag people away from Facebook? Why not go where they are?” There are over 550 million users of Facebook, including 70 plus percent of any community in the country.

There are some obvious shortcomings of going all Facebook if you’re an ad revenue based publication. Facebook sells all of its own ads and doesn’t split ad revenue with publishers (creators of pages).

But if your focus is community building, engagement, distribution, or collaboration, as is the case with many legal publications (including blogs), publishing on Facebook may have merit.

There’s also the obvious shortcoming of going it alone on Facebook, that is without an independent site. You’re publishing is controlled by the whims of a third-party which could change its publishing rules on a moments notice.

Doing a quick look around Facebook I found the following legal publications which retain their own online or print presence publishing on Facebook:

JD Supra also has a Legal Publishing Facebook App that allows law firms to feature documents on their law firm’s Facebook page.

Right now legal publishing on Facebook is fairly limited. But as Facebook expands its presence as the central nervous of online social interaction, you can expect to see more legal publications turning to Facebook to increase circulation and engagement. I think you’ll even see a few publish solely on Facebook.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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