Why work with Facebook?

I'm already getting bits of backlash, people disapproving of me working with Facebook. Their reasons are predictable, and not necessarily wrong, but imho missing the big picture.

So I thought I would write the answer to this question that's probably going to be a FAQ.

Background

I'm working on a way to publish content to blogs and Facebook simultaneously. So that writers don't have to choose between Facebook and their blog, they can publish to both. And when they make a change, it changes in both places.

To make this work, some Facebook API features have to be documented, and some added, and bugs fixed. And there are some nice-to-have things that will make it a really excellent platform for blogging tools. I'm working on the developer side of this, with people at Facebook working on the platform side. It's something I've done before, successfully, with other platform vendors and publishers including Microsoft, Apple, Netscape and the New York Times.

I've already produced a demo app that shows how an external blogging editor would work, and provided a bit of sample JavaScript code that accesses the new call that makes this possible.

Bullet points

Now, why?

  1. When I have a blog post to write, I have a dilemma. Do I post to my blog, or to Facebook? The blog has advantages. It's a complete archive of my writing. It's relatively easy to find an old post. It's indexed by search engines. It can be quoted on Wikipedia, and easily linked to from Twitter. On the other hand, Facebook delivers more readers and engagement. And despite all the advantages of blogging, Facebook is winning.

  2. It's not just blogs that feel this heat, so do journalism sites. Ones that connect well to Facebook get rich, ones that don't, don't. It's a generalization, but trends are made out of generalizations.

  3. The more it happens, the more it's going to happen.

  4. Trying to reverse the trend is not something anyone can think their way to. Maybe there's a way to get lucky, to create some instantly popular form of content that doesn't work with Facebook well. Like Whatsapp, or Instagram, or Oculus. And even so, Facebook adapts. They're really smart and gutsy and I admire the way they do it. Most companies by the time they get to Facebook's size are less agile.

  5. I asked Google for an API like the one Facebook provided. They said no. Twitter isn't a candidate, though they have a good API, the 140-character limit means I never have to choose between posting on my blog or Twitter. I asked Medium to work with me on this. Didn't get an answer.

  6. I don't think Facebook is hurt by a vibrant competitive market in publishing tools that post to Facebook and post elsewhere, simultaneously. This is where development happens fastest, without the huge installed base to bring along. If this is cut off, that cuts off growth. I think we've already been dealing with this, for a long time. I believe if Facebook opens up more, the lights will start coming back on in new content management tools.

  7. So the web and Facebook can co-exist and feed off each others' growth. Seems like a win-win. Facebook readers get higher fidelity content, more beautiful, easier to read. It's more effective for authors. And blogs and news organizations can easily publish and maintain their content in two or more places. When you're liveblogging an event, for example, you can't manually copy and paste every time something new happens.

  8. Like others, I tried for a few years to live in a world without Facebook. I deleted my account, around the time Diaspora started. I forget why I was fed up, but I was. Did I think that my withdrawing from Facebook would hurt them? No, I didn't. Did I think I could continue as if Facebook didn't exist? I tried not to think about that.

  9. Facebook does exist. Trying to pretend it doesn't makes your world smaller, and if you're making blogging software, makes it harder to find users.

  10. Earlier this year, I created a new Facebook account, at the urging of a friend. I'm glad I did. I like Facebook. And now I don't feel bad about that, because there is a door open that I needed to have opened.

  11. I've been working non-stop for the last 20 years on blogging software. Even though my newest product is wonderful in many ways, very few people look at it, and even fewer use it. When reporters write about recent innovations in blogging, my product is not mentioned. For me at least, blogging as a market is moribund. It was either add something to the mix, to change the market, or give up.

  12. I want to continue making great blogging tools. And I want lots of people to use them. So these steps are on my path. I can't succeed without doing this. If you can create a market even a fraction as big as Facebook's that delivers the readers and engagement, then I'll do the same with your platform, if you want to work together. I try to accept what is, and have the most fun I can doing what I love to do. And for now this is it.

Update

A new release of Little Facebook Editor makes it possible to post to WordPress and Facebook simultaneously, and keep the two versions updated as you save your changes.


Last built: Sun, Sep 14, 2014 at 10:51 PM

By Dave Winer, Sunday, August 24, 2014 at 9:04 AM. Don't slam the door on the way out.