By Kevin O'Keefe

Facebook as a publisher of blog content?

Facebook law blog publishing

Publishers, both mainstream and bloggers, have come to realize that as many people come to their sites via social media as come directly. These people are coming on mobile primarily via Facebook.

As I blogged last week, this means law bloggers need to get their posts distributed on Facebook by becoming more active on Facebook and by making their content easy to consume on the browser displayed directly inside Facebook’s app.

The New York Time’s David Carr (@Carr2n) reported Monday that Facebook is thinking of taking things a step further. Facebook would become not only the distributor, but the publisher itself.

Both Facebook and the publishers know that publishers have a difficult time delivering their content in Facebook’s NewsFeed. Pages loaded with advertising and heavy graphics load slowly, and when they do, many are difficult or impossible to read on Facebook’s mobile app.

A Facebook executive not looking for attribution told Carr one possibility for improving the service would be for Facebook to act as the publisher, users would publish on Facebook directly.

…[P]ublishers would simply send pages to Facebook that would live inside the social network’s mobile app and be hosted by its servers; that way, they would load quickly with ads that Facebook sells. The revenue would be shared.

Carr reports such a solution scares the heck out of of many publishers, both traditional and digital insurgents, like law bloggers.

If Facebook’s mobile app hosted publishers’ pages, the relationship with customers, most of the data about what they did and the reading experience would all belong to the platform. Media companies would essentially be serfs in a kingdom that Facebook owns.

Reminds me of of the days when AOL’s gated garden was the Internet as we knew it or Amazon serving as a publisher, in addition to book seller, today.

Closer to legal publishing, the situation reminds me of Martindale-Hubbell and Google 12 or 13 years ago. Martindale did not want to enable Google to index its entire lawyer directory without compensation. As a result, Martindale blocked its directory from Google. We know where that ended up.

It’s not that these companies are evil, it’s just that they dominate use of the net. Facebook is more important to publishers than Google. Publishers such as the New York Times have lost 50% of their home page direct traffic to social media, primarily Facebook.

Lawyers, more comfortable with LinkedIn, Twitter, and content distribution services will come to grips with Facebook over time. It’s just too darned big.

I do believe professionals such as lawyers are going to want to retain a home base with their blogged content. A lawyer’s revenue is their work developed in part by networking online (not advertising), Google will remain important, blog posts will be curated into association and firm networks, blog posts will need to be included in a federated search at the law firm and legal research level, and lawyers will want to point to blog posts via email and the like for business development.

At the same time we cannot ignore the role of Facebook in law blog publishing. Wether at the publishing level or merely at the distribution level.

Even if law firms don’t follow Facebook publishing developments directly, online media solution providers such as LexBlog and the major legal publishers will need to.

Image courtesy of Flickr by AJ Carr

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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