The New York Times decision to start publishing stories directly on Facebook further signals the importance of publishing away from your flagship website.

As the Times’ Claire Cain Miller (@clairecmwrites, Facebook’s hosting stories from the Times and other publishers is not just about page views, revenues and how fast a story loads. It’s about who really owns the relationship with readers today. It’s about where people go to read news and information.

If you want to read the news, Facebook is saying, come to Facebook, not to NBC News or The Atlantic or The Times — and when you come, don’t leave.

The front page of a newspaper and the cover of a magazine lost their dominance long ago. Web home pages are following suit. Increasingly, the articles, videos, photographs and graphics that media organizations publish are stand-alone fragments that readers happen upon one at a time, often on social media. It is similar to what happened to musicians when iTunes started selling individual songs instead of albums.

The days of the publisher dictating that their content be read on their websites are over. Edward Kim (@edwkim), chief executive of SimpleReach, explained to Miller:

In an analog world, you had to think of a newspaper as a collection of stories which provides publishers and marketers with online metrics. That’s how it was packaged and distributed and sold. In digital, every story becomes unbundled from each other, so if you’re not thinking of each story as living on its own, it’s tying yourself back to an analog era.

Who controls who sees what? To a large extent its people’s “friends” and the algorithms of social networks. People receive their news and information via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and email.

The more a piece of content is shared the more people who will see the content. We’re not just talking by mere sharing one to one and one to many. We’re talking as the publisher of the content grows their influence (expertise) on social media the more the content will be surfaced by social networks and that many more people with relevant interests will see the content. Exponential growth in readership takes place.

What’s it have to do with law blogs? Lots.

In a digital social network world each niche legal publication, and even each piece of legal content, is unbundled from each other.

Publishers, including law firms, are rowing upstream by packaging all their content and blogs in their website.

Could content on your website get shared socially? Anything is possible. But content is much more likely to get share when on niche standalone sites. Influence is grown and content is surfaced on social even more.

It’s flawed logic to place blogs and content in your website if search performance is what you’re after.

As Miller reports, in 2013, per Shareaholic, 40 percent of traffic to the more than 300,000 publishers in their network came from search while 14 percent came from social media. Today, social has surpasses search.

The New York Times has lost over 50 percent of the traffic to their website home page. The way in which content is discovered, viewed and distributed has totally changed.

Law firms would be wise not to live in the past.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Wally Gobetz