Whether you’re a ministry, business, non-profit, blogger, or you send newsletters, there is ample opportunity for us to share content with each other, especially if it relates to the work we are doing. Content sharing is a wonderful way to build connections and help each other share our messages and expand our reach. If you are a content creator or you sometimes look for content to share, these tips will help protect the content you’ve created or respect those who’ve created the content you want to use.
There are a few ways to reference or share someone else’s content within your own newsletter, article, social media, or website. One is to simply share a link to the content that will auto-populate a post to the article; another is to make a reference with a quote or mention (which should be followed with a link to the original content); the other way is to share the full content. This article focuses mainly on when the full content is being shared between different places, whether you are sharing your content among multiple sites or someone else is sharing your content on their site. In the midst of sharing content, there is etiquette that both protects intellectual property and keeps search engines happy.
You mean search engines care that we share content? Yep. While I’m not qualified to get technical here, the bottom line is the internet folks at Google, Bing, etc. are very smart. Their algorithms [bots] are even smarter. Copying and pasting content from one source to another will result in a duplicate content penalty.
[Suggested reading: Should You Repost Your Blog Content on Other Websites?]
Most small businesses, ministries, and non-profits are unaware that content from another source on the web can hurt the ability of one or both of the websites involved and they will lose site traffic. If you want to post content from one website to another, even if it’s your own, you must do so by properly using a rel=canonical in source code or a nofollow tag. You’ll find plenty of information on how to accomplish that by doing a web search as I am not qualified to explain it properly.
7 Content Sharing Tips
Aside from the technical and search engine implications of sharing content, the greater issue is how to best show courtesy to those who have put in the work to create articles and other content for their audience. While we may think sharing content is flattering to the original creator, it is only a benefit if done properly. Granted, many of us are unaware that there is an etiquette to sharing content and our intentions are well-meaning. The tips I share below include some industry standards but also tips from my experience.
- Never share the full content of an article, etc. if it is not your own or it is already on another website. This will cause a duplicate content penalty (see above), it’s considered plagarism, and is a copyright infringement. It is far better to reference the content of another person’s work. I recommend writing an introductory review of the content you want to share and why you like it. Then, give an excerpt or quote followed by a link to the full article. If you want to use the full content, see tip #2.
- Get Written Permission. In general, it is taboo to share someone else’s full content without written permission and full understanding of where and how it will be used. This doesn’t apply to a quote or reference to someone else’s work within your own content. At the bottom of this article I’ve listed a few questions to ask the author/content creator.
- Use No More Than A Paragraph of duplicate content. Search Engine issues pop up when you have more than a paragraph of duplicate content. Not only that, you start getting into plagarism so there’s that…
- Use The Author’s Name As They Have It Shown. Most authors and creatives work hard at branding. Use their name as they have it shown on the original source when referencing the articles/content.
- Always CLEARLY refer or link to the original content. It is common courtesy to reference the author and publication at the beginning of sharing their content. Additionally, include a hyperlink if you are sharing digitally or give the full link if you are sharing via print. Optionally, you can include the date of the original article. (Example: Article by Laura Prather. View original article here: MicrobusinessMentor.com. Follow: @microbizchick [instagram])
- Keep The Same Title And Format. Sharing someone else’s content but putting your own title on it is effectively claiming the content as your own. Also, rearranging the content and/or adding to it is not ethical or respectful of the person’s work. Both of these are considered copyright infringement and can get you in a heap of legal trouble or, at the very least, damage professional relationships. If you want to share someone’s content, you need to share as they have it written and presented, unless you have a prior agreement.
- Include A Social Handle. Many authors and content creators have a social media presence. Including their social handle (and link) when you share or reference their work is a nice courtesy.
Content Creators love having their work shared! It’s how we connect audiences with more content that is relevant or interesting to them. If you are a content creator, you want to protect your intellectual property. In the same fashion, if you are sharing content, you want to protect your reputation and become a space where content creators WANT their work to be displayed. We accomplish that by understanding the implications of sharing content and making sure that proper credit is given to those who put in the work.
Ultimately, you will want to speak with the original author before sharing any content and specifically request:
- if they want their content shared
- tell them where and how it will be shared
- ask how they would like their content used
- what kind of acknowledgments they prefer
If you are a content creator, it’s best to think through the answers to these questions upfront so you are ready when someone requests to share your content. Research their platform to make sure it aligns with who you are and your audience. Remember, it is better to communicate upfront and get any agreements in written form – even if it’s through email.
Recommended Article: Sharing, Citing, and Stealing: Content Etiquette Rules For The Digital Age.