Sharing and curating content is an efficient way for an organization to keep their oar in the narrative waters. You offer valuable content to your community and build engagement, and your community gets useful and enjoyable information. But are you doing it right…or are you a poacher? Learn the right way to share, and common pitfalls.
Is your neighborhood like mine — do you all try to present a great face to your community by having a fabulous front yard? I know neighbors who are definitely leaders in how to have an fantastic lawn. They’re creative, innovative, visually interesting, and usually in front of gardening trends. Others are often inspired to use some of their ideas in their own yards.
If you were to integrate someone else’s design ideas into your front yard would you place a sign by the curb attributing credit to your neighbor?
Most likely not. It’s not ever done, you’d have put your own style in it, and your neighbor would probably be flattered, and glad, because the entire community benefits when a good idea spreads and creates beauty. You keep up everyone’s property value.
In social media, online influencers are the master gardeners, and their content is the fabulous garden idea that increases everyone’s values.
The key difference between lawns and social media is this: when you share online you do need that sign crediting the source.
Content Curation: Great strategy, but use professional etiquette
Many organizations are not focused on content development; they focus, instead, on their mission. These groups want to provide valuable content to their communities, though. Curating germane content keeps you a trusted source and connected engagement with your community. As much as sorting, organizing, and presenting meaningfully are crucial to successful content curation, sharing with attribution is important.
Why? Two good reasons:
1. You’ve heard that authenticity is key. Crediting a source is being authentic and trustworthy. Citing the source provides your community verification that the content is good, as in trustworthy. It also shows your faith in the source through your willingness to cite it openly.
2. Generally, people are okay with you sharing and promoting their content…as long as you give them credit. Asking in advance is a courtesy — and necessary if you plan to reuse an image or content in full — but if you’re simply sharing, attributing is showing respect for how what someone else created benefitted you, and may also benefit them. Communities grow through cross-pollination (gratuitous gardening reference and play on words).
Social media makes sharing easy…too easy
In social media, it takes one second and one click to share content. When something is that effortless, it often becomes thoughtless. Creating a standard process for curating and sharing content can prevent that and also some of the problems it might create. Make sure that your social media policy includes this. Here are a few things to consider as points in a share process guideline:
1. Is this public content and would the source be fine with it being shared?
2. Is it in line with the tone and purpose of our organization?
3. How and where does it fit with our organization and can we directly tie it in?
4. Where are we going to share it?
5. How are we going to share it? Through an embedded tool, such as Facebook Share, or through a more manual process?
6. How much of the original content are we going to use?
7. What’s our standard style we should all comply with for crediting a source? Quotes from verbal? Copy and paste of a portion of an article? A status or Tweet? And image?
Examples of good credit:
Avoid security issues and backlash
Storify is one of the many great and free tools that enable organizations to quickly and easily create content. By pulling in comments from social media, you can quickly create a story that covers a topic comprehensively, and includes many voices — quite a few of whom may come from your community. This is a great practice. You lead the narrative and provide space to share your community’s thoughts on the topic. You can leave the story on the Storify platform, or you can pull it into your own. In minutes, you can have a great piece, which is fantastic for timely topics and time-pressed organizations.
Even better, if you work on Google Chrome, you can install a Storify extension that lets you collect content you see and like with one click.
Here’s the trouble: all that content that you can pull? It’s not yours and it may not be okay to share it, via Storify or any other extension or tool. And yet, some tools may — and Storify definitely does — enable you to circumvent privacy and security settings.
You wouldn’t go yank plants from your neighbor’s yard to build your own landscaping. Neither should you poach content or take it public without knowing it is truly fine to use and share. Again, asking is a good courtesy, but also ensure that any content you pull is public versus intended for a private or restricted audience. Hopefully, also, tools will continue to refine their functionality and improve recognition of privacy settings.
All doors open to courtesy (quote attributed to Thomas Fuller)
The bottom line is: crediting the person and/or site where you got the image or content you are sharing is simply the right thing to do, whether you are doing it in a formal or informal way, for professional or personal reasons. A share button does not do it for you, and it still doesn’t provide the hat tip or appreciation a manual credit does. It may keep the original source in the stream but nothing is as valuable as a moment of time to say a thanks or give credit where it is due.