By Kevin O'Keefe

Medium, Facebook or blogs, where will professionals publish?

Digital publishing

There’s a flurry of discussion going on across the net about who is going to have the best publishing platform. Facebook, Medium, or maybe even Twitter. Let alone blogs running on WordPress, which is powering a quarter of the net’s publishing.

Everyone knows about Facebook as a social network, but few view Facebook as an application to use for publishing. Sure, share on Facebook what I publish elsewhere, such as on my blog, but publish directly on Facebook’s system?

Facebook recently resurrected “notes,” a feature that enables users to “blog,” using the term liberally, inside Facebook.

Earlier this week, Isaac Salier-Hellendag, a Facebook user interface engineer shared:

We’re rolling out an update to make notes on Facebook more beautiful and customizable. Notes are now an even better way to write a longer post and share with anyone — whether it’s a small group of friends or everyone on Facebook.

With this update, you can add a cover photo that represents what your note is all about. You can caption and resize photos, and format your text into headers, quotes or bullets.

For instance, you can recap your summer vacation or an important time in your life to update the people you care about. You can voice your opinion on something you saw in the news or write an open letter you want to share with the world. You can share a special recipe with a bulleted list of ingredients and photos of each step.

Tech and publishing commentators view Facebook’s move with “notes” to be in response to Medium, a well-funded company founded by Ev Williams, who co-founded Twitter and Google’s Blogger.

Medium is a free blog-like publishing platform that enables people to blog into a community-like atmosphere of curated content. Its interface is eloquent and it is growing in popularity. Stephen Poor, Chairman of Seyfarth Shaw is writing at Medium on a publication called Rethink the Practice.

No one knows for sure where Medium is headed, except for possibly Ev. A couple days ago, Business Insider columnist Biz Carson penned a pretty popular piece on the reason for Medium having a high value in the venture capital community.

Despite not having tasteless ads based on traffic and click-throughs, Carson viewed Medium as the next PR Newsire with content bordering on ads and press releases.

There are no ugly ads that flash advertising before crashing your browser.

Instead, everyone from San Francisco’s local supervisors to the White House are publishing articles, essays, and press releases, surrounded by the same swaths of white and clean fonts. The bylines are tucked away in the top left corner.

Companies may call this “content.” A lot of it looks like advertising.

And let’s face it: Medium has become a dumping ground for a different generation’s press releases.

Then yesterday we get word that Twitter has plans to launch a product allowing users to publish well beyond the 140 character count.

It is unclear what Twitter’s product will look like, but sources say it will enable people to publish long-form content. It is also speculated that the user interface would not be the same as the core Twitter interface so as to enable a more blog-like look.

No question in anyone’s mind though that Twitter’s move is a response to Medium and Facebook’s publishing platforms.

Then we have LinkedIn Publisher, which frankly has not generated nearly as much discussion among publishing and social media authorities as six months ago or last year when pundits wrongfully predicted this feature would kill off blogs.

LinkedIn Publisher may be its own worst enemy with the huge amount of stuff people and organizations are pumping through it—almost spam-like.

I like a publishing platform and network that is open (versus closed a la Facebook) and with individual publications in the publisher’s brand, whether the publisher be an individual or an organization.

Though I closely follow Medium, Facebook and others, law firms and other professional services organization tell me they value firm-branded publications—big time.

And why not? Publishing a blog that becomes the “Harvard Business Review” or “CNN” of a niche subject is huge. Huge as a reputation builder and huge as relationship currency when highlighting and citing others—and even allowing guests, such as in-house counsel, to post a piece.

If you are looking for circulation alone, these other publishing platforms may make more sense. And don’t get me wrong I do believe exposure can bring credibility and reputation. I just see it as more limited.

Who knows where this is all going to go—other than publishing continuing to rise. But for now, I am betting on firm-branded publications, whether we call them blogs or anything else that publishers can call their own.

Image courtesy of Flickr by redspotted

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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