…[M]y guess is that within three years, it will be normal for news organizations of even modest scale to be publishing to some combination of their own websites, a separate mobile app, Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News, Snapchat, RSS, Facebook Video, Twitter Video, YouTube, Flipboard, and at least one or two major players yet to be named. The biggest publishers will be publishing to all of these simultaneously.
This sounds stranger than it will feel: Publishing to these other platforms will be automated. Reporters will write their articles, and their content management system will smoothly hand them to Facebook, Snapchat, or Apple News. There’s nothing new here, really — this is already how RSS feeds work.
But there will be more of them, and they will matter much more. The RSS audience is small. The off-platform audience will be huge. The publishers of tomorrow will become like the wire services of today, pushing their content across a large number of platforms they don’t control and didn’t design.
The concept is not far-fetched. No matter what publishers do to perfect their sites and apps for target audience viewing, many will read their news and commentary on third-party sites of their choosing.
If the publisher’s content is there, great, it will get read. If not, no amount of spending on SEO and “content marketing” is going to get these folks to the publisher’s site.
The attraction of these off-platform sites is traffic. Facebook attracts a huge audience, as does LinkedIn and even Flipboard. But if traffic alone were everything to businesses like law firms, everyone would run billboards and broadcast their content across the net to every Tom, Dick and Harry they can (some law firms foolishly do).
There’s no question there are benefits to law firms with off-platform distribution. Firms will benefit with more of their audience members consuming niche legal content on third-party sites and social networks. They’ll deliver thought leadership to where the people are. Distribution services such as JD Supra are already helping law firms in this regard.
At the same time, branding with eloquent—yet simple—design means an awful lot to those in professional services businesses, such as the law.
Law firms like pointing to their thought leadership packaged in the firm’s brand—from emails, social networks, links on websites and more.
Shrewd law firms leverage their blog publications for guest posts by in-house counsel and strategic interviews. Guest commentators and interviewees enjoy the prestige that comes with being in the “Harvard Business Review” of a niche.
Last, but not least, don’t forget about the archives—at your place and at Google. You’ll want a knowledge base stored on your brand. You’ll also want those doing a Google search on topics you’ve written to find it on your branded platform.
I love Ezra’s thinking here. There’s a lot of upside in serving as a wire service to an off-site platform, something not even possible just a few years ago.
But despite the attraction and growth in off-platform publishing, law firms will still use your own platform for initial publishing, content management and syndication.
It’s not an either/or proposition.
Image courtesy of Flickr by Rochelle Hartman