Facebook Live is coming to the American courtroom.

More than 40 years after the Florida Supreme Court (@flcourts) welcomed cameras to its courtroom the court will become one of the first in the world to use social media media for official live video.

In a Tuesday press release, the Court announced that Thursday’s 3:30 p.m. event will showcase, on Facebook Live, the annual Florida Bar Pro Bono Awards honoring lawyers who donate services to people in need. Afterward, Facebook Live will be used permanently for all oral arguments, starting with February’s.

Chief Justice Jorge Labareleasrga nails it.

In the 1970s, Florida became the first state to allow broadcasts of its court cases at a time when every other court in the nation refused it. This Court’s experiment with transparency showed everyone a better way to balance First Amendment rights against the rights of people involved in a trial or appeal. Social media will be our next step in moving this highly successful model of openness into the Twenty-First Century.

The court staff believes that Facebook Live – with access to the world’s 2 billion Facebook users – will, in time, eclipse the reach of other broadcast methods now being used. More than two-thirds of American adults already use Facebook.

With a smartphone in their pocket or purse, a desktop computer or digital streaming to the family room TV, people can easily watch the Supreme Court live. Just follow or scroll over to the Court’s Facebook page. You can watch as you browse other items in your News Feed.

I expect Facebook will archive the videos just as it does with my own Facebook Live videos. This will enable the court to share the video on Twitter and on its site or blog.

The Florida Bar has a reputation nationwide for limiting lawyer’s engagement of the public via the web and social media. Not so with the Court.

Justice Labarga and his fellow justices approved a sweeping court communication plan in 2015. The communication plan, called “Delivering Our Message,” was approved and forwarded to the Court by the Judicial Management Council, a court advisory body that includes judges, lawyers and non-lawyers

While emphasizing the importance of time-proven principles of effective communication, the plan called on Florida’s courts to embrace recent advances in technology and communications, including social media and podcasting.

The Court and the council saw the opportunity to maintain transparency as technology evolves – to go where the people are. Relationships of trust with the press and the public would be built and maintained as a result.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook knows that Facebook will serves as the epicenter for public discourse in the years ahead – in the United States and world-wide. In the States that means real connections of the three branches of government with the people. The Florida Supreme Court is showing other government bodies the way forward.

The Court is also showing lawyers, law firms and many bar associations who are afraid of their shadow when it comes to Facebook to get over it. Facebook is where you go if you care about communicating with people.

Facebook’s News Feed changes, as announced in a Facebook post, by its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, ten days ago, are good for lawyers and bad for law firms.

Legal bloggers should take note as your blog posts lead to engagement, relationships and a stronger reputation when they “move” socially across Facebook and you have built a stronger reputation by networking on Facebook.

Per Zuckerberg:

…[R]ecently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.

The change, already being implemented:

I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.

We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.

What can you expect in your News Feed? Again from Zuckerberg:

…[L]ess public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.

The Facebook pages run by law firms, most of which are not getting seen anyway, will be seen even less. Articles and announcements from such law firm Facebook pages are unlikely to even get seen in the News Feed of people who have “liked” the law firm’s Facebook page.

The change is good for lawyers who are Facebook friends and engage with industry leaders, business colleagues, clients, referral sources, bloggers and reporters, in addition to family and personal friends.

Why? Because Zuckerberg expects the time you spend on Facebook to be more valuable and more meaningful when there is more engagement with your personal Facebook connections.

At its best, Facebook has always been about personal connections. By focusing on bringing people closer together — whether it’s with family and friends, or around important moments in the world — we can help make sure that Facebook is time well spent.

This evening, I skimmed through the first twenty items in my Facebook News Feed. All, but one, were from business colleagues – mostly lawyers, one personal friend and one New York Times reporter with whom I am a Facebook friend. Though some of these Facebook friends were sharing personal items, most were sharing business or legal commentary.

Facebook will no longer be an option for lawyers. Privacy and ethical hang-ups are not legitimate concerns. They merely reflect ignorance or an unwillingness to adapt to the change in which people network.

The Facebook posts in my News Feed tonight included posts from one of the leading media/First Amendment lawyers in the country, a former large state bar president and a leading privacy and data security lawyer. My Facebook friends who are lawyers offer value to me and others, they’re not promoting themselves nor chasing down clients.

Business development for lawyers, offline or on the Internet, is all about networking to build relationships and to build a name. Facebook, at its best, is all about such social interaction, making it perfect business development.

Perfect though for individual lawyers doing the networking, not so much for law firms trying to promote the firm and its lawyers.

A business colleague emailed Friday asking what equipment I used for the Facebook Live interviews I’ve been doing at legal and tech conferences over the last year plus.

Video, and Facebook Live in particular, is perfect for a blogger. Publishers are using video more and more. Video is no longer the sole province of television stations and video crews. Video is engaging and a perfect way to shine a light on influencers in your niche.

Facebook Live is also good because of Facebook’s giving greater weight to video, especially live video. Like Google showcases influencers in search, Facebook showcases influencers in users’ News Feeds. Doing Facebook Live increases your personal influence.

So what do you need? First, it’s what you don’t need.

Don’t buy expensive and fancy equipment. To me, it’s a waste of money. It’s a headache to haul around. You’ll need another person or two to operate the trappings. Perhaps most important, you’ll loose some of the informality that makes Facebook Live video engaging for those being covered as well as viewers.

I did a fair amount of research before buying equipment. So though I am far from an expert I’d suggest going with the below. It’s what I reccomended to my friend on Friday.

In addition to Amazon, B & H Photo Video (everything listed) and MeFOTO (tripods) are good suppliers.

Like blogging, developing your own style on Facebook Live takes a little trial and error. Fortunately, it’s not expensive and the medium is perfect for that.

Recode’s Peter Kafka (@pkafka) reports that Facebook wants to help major publishers sell subscriptions while not participating in revenue nor harvesting any data in the process.

The tool to launch later this year would enable users to view 10 articles from a publisher for free. Users would then be prompted to go to the publisher’s site to sign up for a subscription.

Facebook isn’t operating a subscription service ala Apple, which takes up to 30 percent of monthly subscription revenue, it’s merely creating a paywall associated with its Instant Articles feature.

News veteran, Campbell Brown, which Facebook hired earlier this year to Lead new partnerships makes a pretty strong statement on behalf of news publishers.

Quality journalism costs money to produce, and we want to make sure it can thrive on Facebook. As part of our test to allow publishers in Instant Articles to implement a paywall, they will link to their own websites to process subscriptions and keep 100% of the revenue.

As lawyers and law firms you aren’t selling subscription based publications, Facebook’s new tool does not apply to you.

But you are publishing legal news, insight and commentary to raise your stature and nurture relations. The message you should take is that your publishing can and should be openly and freely distributed for reading and consumption across the net.

Holding onto your publishing and wanting everyone to come to your website to read your publishing makes no sense. Get it out there and make it easy to consume where people are.

Your audience isn’t spending their time mingling around your website anymore than all of the potential readers of the New York Times, Washington Post or Wall Street Journal are spending their time hanging around their websites.

These publications know many, if not most, readers are out on social networks. That’s why they’ll get their get their publishing out on the social networks for viewing — and just as importantly, for social sharing.

Sure, create your core publications on their own sites, but look to deliver your publishing, preferably at no cost to you, to other outlets and networks online.

Facebook is a great place for publishing. Clean mobile interface, easy to key in content (even with my thumbs) and a built in audience for engagement.

There’s also no intimidation factor. When you open Facebook, free flow thinking is easy to get down “on paper.” With WordPress, it’s somehow a big deal. A blank screen makes you think that something more seminal needs to be published.

I am not talking personal versus professional. I regularly post professionally, that is matters relating to tech, publishing and business development, on Facebook. So much so that I often copy and paste posts from Facebook to my blog. This one I am penning on WordPress.

But I can’t blog on Facebook – for any number of reasons.

  1. I need to own and control my publishing. Facebook doesn’t allow this. If Facebook goes away or decides to change what can be viewed, my body of work goes away.
  2. My body of work is something that people should be able to access and review as part of sizing up who I am. As with a practicing lawyer, people should have the opportunity to see my interests, how I adresss issues and how I give back to the legal profession as a whole. I need the books and my pubications I authored — my blog — on the shelf. My blog gives me this. Not possible with Facebook.
  3. Google has become the world’s reference library. Relevant information from influential sources is available at your finger tips. Not with Facebook.

Dave Winer (@davewiner), the inventor of blogging who’s gone back and forth publishing on his blog, Scripting News, and Facebook over the last couple years (always leaving a record of his full post at his blog), is now back solely on his blog – for a whole lot of reasons, including the importance of the open web.

Winer also points out four features blogs have, which Facebook refuses to add.

  1. Links. How do you reference and advance discussion without citations, let alone how you engage those you are referencing in your writing.
  2. Simple styling.
  3. Enclosures for podcasting.
  4. Titles. We need to be able to charactertise that to which we are “permalinking” and to have a title to be indexed by Google.

To which I’ll add a few more.

  1. Images
  2. Graphs, charts — may be included in styling
  3. Custom features — this could get hairy, just as plugins do on a hosted WordPress platform. In the law, a blog platform requires a built-in “primary law citator” so that links to cases, codes and regs are available and linked to “open law.” Items such as multilevel editorial controls are also required by many legal publishers.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Facebook and will continue to post and engage there, it’s just not blogging.

What I need to get better at — again — is blogging on blogging software, which in my cases is LexBlog’s managed WordPress platform. Reflect and gather my thoughts on what I am reading, like this from Winer, and blog.

Title: Social media is more about the connections than the information and likes.

Author and Professor Deborah Tannen recently explained to Judy Woodruff on PBS that everyday talk and shares on social media isn’t about information we need to know. It’s about staying connected to the people we care about.

I think of social media as an extension of the how-was-your-day conversations that let you know someone cares about you, so you feel less alone in the world.

What someone is having for dinner, what beach they’re on with their family or a selfie with a friend, and the likes and comments that may follow aren’t necessarily important.

It’s the connections that ensue that are important.

Per Tannen,

Social media haven’t transformed human relations. They have intensified them. While that means ramping up some of the stresses and frailties of friendships, it also gives us new, more immediate, more creative ways to stay connected to the people we care about, who care about us.

I’d take it a step further. Social media give us the opportunity to meet, know, and care about those whom we’d never have met otherwise.

A week ago I talked with a lawyer friend across the country whom I met and got to know through social media. We talked about his wife’s serious illness. I felt good to be there for him. He told me it felt like talking to a brother.

Lawyers are often told by marketers to look at social media as a means of distribution — as a way to get more eyeballs on blog posts or other content authored by a lawyer. That’s totally missing the mark.

“Content” is a the currency of building relationships. Without words at a networking event and without content on social media, there’s no vehicle for us to communicate and engage.

But the words and how many people hear or see them are not the end goal. The end goal is relationships. Relationships with people you’d like to get to know and with whom you would like to know and trust you.

When I see Scott Mozarsky, the President of Bloomberg Law, share on Facebook things such as pictures of he and his son in Ranger’s Jerseys at a NHL playoff game, it’s the not the game nor the jerseys that interest me, it’s the connection and relationship I feel.

A relationship that results in Scott and I getting together at this week’s American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Annual Meeting in Austin.

When I see, Despina Kartson, the Global Director, Business Development and Communications, at Jones Day, on Facebook dropping her daughter at graduate school or Despina working with the disadvantaged in New York City, the information itself is not what is most important.

What’s important is getting to know Despina better, what she values in life and the enjoyment she receives in being with family and helping others.

I have talked to lawyers who say, “So what. Who cares what others do personally. Why would people share such items share on Facebook? Why would anyone care to look?”

But like Scott has shared with me more than once, “Business development isn’t all that hard, it’s about relationships with people.”

Social media, including Facebook, is just another way that Despina, Scott and I build relationships founded on knowing each other and trust, based in part by sharing personal events on social media — and in part by sharing professional items on social media.

Don’t be like the woman who complained to Tannen, “I don’t care what somebody had for dinner, all this stuff out there that nobody needs to know.”

It’ll be your loss, personally and professionally.

It was reported by The Telegraphs’s James Titcomb on Monday that Facebook is on the verge of 2 billion members.

The social network is even defying expectations by continuing to grow despite its size, with growth actually accelerating in recent quarters.

Facebook is expected to report report revenues of $7.8 billion and profits of $3.3 billion when it unveils first quarter results this week. Yes, that’s only for a quarter.

In reading a piece in Adweek that social media is the new television by Kurt Abrahamsom, the CEO of ShareThis, I couldn’t help but think of lawyers holding onto the past when it comes to Facebook.

With the rise of television in the 1950s, marketers gained access to a new medium that was growing rapidly popular. With all eyes on the only screen in the house, brands benefited from its wide reach to engage consumers at an unprecedented scale.

However, the audience’s attention is increasingly turning away from television and moving toward mobile devices and social media.

This represents a huge opportunity for brands, per Abrahamson. Brands can connect with people on social media channels in a personalized way. “Brands looking to strengthen their customer relationships should start with the personalization of social…”

Yet the vast majority lawyers, who need to have a brand, ignore Facebook when it comes to building a name, establishing trust and growing a network for business.

Most law firms not only tacitly go along with the lawyers, but establish a marketing culture where Facebook is viewed as below their lawyers for business development purposes. “If Facebook is to be used, it’s only for personal purposes.”

Some firms won’t even allow their lawyers to log in to Facebook on company machines. Crazy, but true.

I ran across a panel discussion among legal marketing “experts” discussing web marketing best practices for the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Today.

Admittedly the panel’s focus was websites, but the implication was clear. Drawing traffic and getting attention is the name of the game for business development success when it comes to the Internet.

One of the experts said “Blog frequently on your firm’s website (not somewhere else). Postings that address frequently asked questions (FAQs) are a great way to start.”

Lost on him, as he hasn’t networked online to build a name and relationships, is that blogging is all about leaving your website and going out and engaging others – listening to the conversation off your website being the most important concept.

Facebook, with virtually every American using it, represents a town hall discussion, with the people involved and the topics discussed framed by who you engage and what you share. Facebook’s algorithms will surface relevant discussion and people for you.

Lawyers and law firms need to let go of viewing the Internet as an opportunity to broadcast. Like televison, the opportunity to reach people at an unprecedented scale is addicting. But people have moved on to social networks, primarily Facebook, to communicate and engage with each other.

Lawyers have become accustomed to email and cell phones as a means of communicating for business development. Facebook is arguably just as essential for business developmet today.

Yesterday, leading blogger, tech evangelist and speaker, Robert Scoble shared on Facebook eight ways to get him to “Delete Request” when you request his friendship on Facebook.

I thought Robert’s points were pretty good and mirrored some of my thinking when I get friend requests.

  1. Don’t have any public posts in past month. Automatically gets me to click “delete request.
  2. Don’t list your job title on your Intro/Profile/About.
  3. Don’t post anything interesting about the tech industry in your past 20 posts.
  4. Don’t have at least 20 mutual friends (I have more than 4,000, it shouldn’t be that hard). Even a few is better than zero. Particularly useful to figure out if someone is a real member of the mixed reality community.
  5. Don’t have a real photo of yourself anywhere.
  6. Don’t make it possible to follow you so I can dip my toe in the water.
  7. Post only selfies.
  8. Only post quotes or those stupid posts with the color background.

I’m not near as popular as Robert, I don’t get the requests he gets and I don’t have the number of Facebook friends he does.

But I am cognoscent of a number things when considering friend requests.

  • Facebook caps the number of friends at 5,000. I am only North of 1,500 friends now, but things have a way of growing on the net.
  • Whether people regularly post things of interest to me. I often receive Facebook requests from people who have posted little more than profile pictures over the last year.
  • Complete profile listings – job title, contact into etc. I am not likely to friend people who are looking to be private on Facebook.
  • Diverse interests and offerings. In addition to Facebook friends in the legal industry, my friends include journalists, corporate executives, authors, artists, college professors, financiers and others — in addition to personal friends. The more interesting and diverse my friends, the more value I’ll receive from my Newsfeed and the more interesting the people I get to know.
  • Mutual friends. When I reach out to request friendship I look for people with whom I have at least 20 to 30 mutual friends. Common friends is something I also consider with requests.
  • Sharing of both personal and professional items. It’s a combination of both that lets me get to know people.
  • Post only their own articles and blog posts. Too many lawyers use Facebook as a distribution channel, as opposed to an engagement channel.

So it’s not that I don’t like you, that I don’t wnat to get to know you or don’t want to do business with you. If I delete your friend request on Facebook, it’s because of the things Scoble or I may consider.

There has been a lot of discussion of late about fake news on Facebook.

Some folks believe fake news affected the outcome of the presidential election. One law professor recently told me that most of the stuff on Facebook was fabricated. It won’t be too long before I’ll be at conference where lawyers will be told to stear clear of Facebook because of hoaxes and fake news.

Big mistake. Less than one percent of news and information on Facebook is fake. That’s probably about the same as mainstream media.

Also not to be lost on you, as a lawyer, is that Facebook has almost 2 billion users, and that 44 percent of Americans get their news from the social network. If you’re not sharing information and commentary on Facebook you’re missing a huge opportunity.

I’m with Mark Zuckerberg who recently posted,

Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes.

Having said that, Zuckerberg is looking to limit the fake news that there is and show people that they will find meaningful content and accurate news on Facebook.

Zuckerberg knows he must proceed carefully when you get into “the truth” and censorship, let alone Facebook’s desire to maintain its status as a technology company and avoid the responsibilities that come with being a media company.

Identifying the “truth” is complicated. While some hoaxes can be completely debunked, a greater amount of content, including from mainstream sources, often gets the basic idea right but some details wrong or omitted. An even greater volume of stories express an opinion that many will disagree with and flag as incorrect even when factual. I am confident we can find ways for our community to tell us what content is most meaningful, but I believe we must be extremely cautious about becoming arbiters of truth ourselves.

David Pogue, reports in Scientific American this week that Facebook has already taken action.

  1. If you tap the V button at the top right of a post and then choose “Report this post,” you’ll see a new option called “It’s a fake news story.” On the next screen, you’ll have a choice of options, including “Mark this post as fake news.” (Other options include “Message Chris Robin” [or whomever posted the story] to let them know they fell for it.)
  2. If enough people flag a story as fake, it will be sent to a fact-checking organization like Snopes.com or PolitiFact. And if the outfit determines that yes, the story is bogus, it will appear on Facebook with a red banner that says, “Disputed by Third-Party Fact Checkers.” That banner will include a link to the fact checkers’ article explaining why the story is false. The stories still appear, but with flags that identify them as phony and lower in your News Feed.
  3. Facebook will employ software and algorithms to help identify fake stories. For example, Facebook has learned that when lots of people read a certain article but then don’t share it, it’s often because the story is phony.
  4. Facebook is trying to shut down the financial incentive for fakers. Its engineers have eliminated the ability for the fakers to create Web sites that impersonate actual news sites, for example. And the company will analyze sites that draw ad dollars from Facebook traffic, and will cut them off if they’re in the business of fake-news fraud.

Though cynics argue that fake news generates eyeballs and ad revenue for Facebook, people use Facebook because of the value it brings to their lives. Value comes from accurate information and news — and the engagement that ensues.

Gaming a popular site is not without precedent. A whole SEO industry has sprung up to game Google in an effort to get Google users to visit third-party sites lacking valuable information. Through software and algorithms, Google reduced the junk to a minimum – enough so that the world uses Google as the leading source of information — including lawyers for a lot of legal research.

The above four steps are just a start, Facebook has the brightest social engineers in the world working for them. If anyone can eliminate fake news, they can.

How we receive news and information has changed dramatically in the last decade. Television news, newspapers and news websites carried the day five or six years.

Today, people receive news socially – from people they trust. Facebook, as the largest social network is likely to become the leading source of accurate news and information for Americans.

Facebook Live provides law firms the opportunity to present streaming news and information to their target audience without going through an intermediary.

Think about how Facebook Live broadcasts compare to the status quo of getting lawyers on traditional video broadcast, television.

Get marketing and public relationships professionals working on “packaging” particular lawyers. Public relations then works their contacts with the networks or local television. Then jump on things when breaking news arises or look for opportunities to get on television with evergreen information and coverage.

When successful, something that’s far from given, you need to wonder if your target audience actually saw the lawyer on TV. Did the influential reporters and bloggers, who are active on social media and who influence your audience, see the lawyer?

Because most of the target audience did not see the lawyer on TV, you’ll do a press release and announce on social media that the lawyer was on TV. Doing such a press release, something traditionally looked at as pretty cool, can seem awfully lame today.

How seamless is Facebook Live? On Monday morning I got word, via Facebook Live, of the shooting of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey. The live Facebook feed was coming from the news agency, RT.

In addition to the horror of the recorded video of the shooting that RT was running along with its Facebook Live reports from the scene, I was struck by the concept that Facebook was bringing me news of the day, live.

I didn’t click on anything. I happened to be on Facebook as part of my own networking and sharing. Up came RT’s live feed at the top of my Facebook News Feed.

Admittedly I use social media more than most legal professionals, but I am old enough to be amazed that Facebook was bringing my news live—from across the world, with footage caught on a smartphone, presented to me on my iPad on a cellular connection as I had my morning coffee at the kitchen table.

My news, not via The New York Times app (which is pretty fast), not via a news site like CNN (which I hardly use), not via reading The New York Times newspaper (which I no longer do for “current news”), or via watching traditional network TV news (which I never do). Live news “floating” in front of me.

Later Monday, I received news of the truck driving into a Christmas crowd in Berlin the same way. Facebook Live coverage, again from RT, a network I have not “liked” on Facebook—ever.

What’s RT streaming Facebook Live from its Facebook page have to do with a law firm? Everything.

If a lawyer or practice group wants to engage a niche audience, say immigration law for healthcare institutions, they could do a lot worse than a lawyer jumping on Facebook live and reporting on relevant developments. Perhaps even interviewing fellow leaders on immigration law or health care HR executives on Facebook Live.

Facebook will see to it it that the firm’s target audience will see the video. Some of those viewing the video will share, like and comment on the video. Maybe the world won’t see it, but a couple or three hundred folks will see it. And they’ll be a significant percentage of the target audience the firm is looking to reach.

I ran into a veteran law firm marketing professional and told her of this post and the opportunities that await law firms in using Facebook Live. She explained that law firms were neither equipped nor ready for Facebook Live. She’s excellent in the work she does, but raised the reality that large law was not prepared to address Facebook Live.

Ready or not, Facebook Live is already a reality in major industries, including healthcare, a huge markets for law.

Beth Snyder Bulik, writing on Facebook Live for FiercePharma noted:

[S]everal hospitals including the Mayo Clinic, UNC Healthcare and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin [are] successfully using Facebook Live with live-streaming events such as “ask a doctor” sessions, lectures, fundraisers, and guided tours. UNC Healthcare, in fact, reported results of its Facebook Live streaming that included a 480% increase in daily interactions and a 75% increase of page likes in the first six months. One of its live chats about the Affordable Care Act has been replayed more than 2,000 times.

Mark Zuckerberg is pushing Facebook Live harder than any other feature on his social network. New features for video and Live are coming every couple weeks. He’s weaving Facebook Live into the fabric of our Facebook use, the latest being videos being displayed across the top of mobile apps and a video icon at the bottom to take us to recent “Live” recordings.

Rather than doing what other firms are doing, law firms would be well served to focus on where the world is headed. Facebook Live.