MG Siegler over on Techcrunch yesterday wrote a story about how the AP is tweeting links to its stories. Those links, however, are not to its website. Instead those twitter links lead to Facebook copies of their stories! Here's a snippet of his post:
The AP is using their Twitter feed to tweet out their stories — nothing new there, obviously — but every single one of them links to the story on their Facebook Notes page. It’s not clear how long they’ve been doing this, but Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan noted the oddness of this, and how annoying it is, tonight. The AP obviously has a ton of media partners, and they could easily link to any of those, or even the story hosted on their own site. But no, instead they’re copying all these stories to their Facebook page and linking there for no apparent reason.
As Sullivan notes in a follow-up tweet, “i really miss when people had web sites they owned and pointed at. why lease your soul to facebook. or buzz. or whatever. master your domain.”
What’s really odd about this is the AP’s recent scuffle with Google over the hosting of AP content. The two sides appeared to reach some sort of deal earlier this month (after months of threats and actual pulled content), but now the AP is just hosting all this content on Facebook for the hell of it?
To me this isn't unusual at all. In fact it's common practice amongst 'social media experts'. Many of us use/used tools like FriendFeed, Buzz, Facebook etc not just to share links, but to actually host original content. We actively send all our traffic to these sites rather than using them as draws back to our own open blog/publishing platforms.
I completely agree with MG. Sending your audience to a closed destination site which provides you no brand control, monetization or cross-sell capability shows a profound misunderstanding of the economics of publishing.
Some will argue that the content should find the audience, and they should be free to read it wherever they like. Sure, I won't disagree with that, but actively generating it in a non-monetizable place and actively sending people there seems like a missed opportunity to me. Why not generate it on your blog and then simply share the links in other places. If those users choose to chat over there, that's fine, but the first, best place to view the content and observe the conversation should always be at the source, at YOUR source. YOUR site.
Some will argue that those platforms generate more engagement than a regular blog/site. They generate engagement because your blog is not looked after. You're using inferior plugins and have not taken the time to consider how your blog can become a first class social platform. You're willing to use tools that cannibalize your audience rather than attract them. You're willing to use your blog as a traffic funnel back to other destination sites by replacing big chunks of it with FriendFeed streams rather than hosting your own LifeStream like Louis Gray and Leo Laporte have done.
Some will argue (or not, because they don't realize or don't want to say it out loud) that they are not journalists, they are personalities, and they go wherever their audience is. They don't monetize their content, they monetize the fact that they HAVE an audience by getting paying jobs that enable them to evangelize through any channel that they choose. Those people (and there are very few of them) have less incentive to consolidate their content sources (although there are still reasons to do so). Unfortunately, though, media properties sometimes get confused and think they can do the same thing.
The list of reasons why publishing stuff on Buzz or FriendFeed or Facebook as a source rather than an aggregator goes on and on, so I will just stop here.
I'm glad MG has picked up on it and written about it on Techcrunch.
Update: Steve Rubel is agreeing with the AP's approach. Using all sorts of fancy words like Attention Spirals, Curating and Relationships Steve is justifying APs ritual suicide of their destination site in favor of adding value, engagement and traffic to Facebook. Sorry Steve, but giving Facebook all your content and your traffic and not getting anything in return is called giving away the house.
Again, I'm not advocating that you lock content away behind paywalls, I'm simply saying that you need to own the source and make your site a first-class citizen on the social web. Not make Facebook the only game in town by handing it your audience.