Branding Blog

Social media ethics: ways around plagiarism and stealing ideas

Written by Dale Berkebile | Fri, Nov 19, 2010

An interesting thing happened the other day. I found a new way to promote our social media tools. After sending out an email blast to promote this to our personal friends, prospects and clients, we got a similar email promoting the same thing that came to us the next week.

In this day of content and ideas as a freemium (totally free), it makes sense to share content and ideas with others. So the question that comes up- is it stealing or plagiarism when you take someone else's ideas or contents and use them as your own. The answer in my opinion, is yes.

Going this route not only hurts the developers of the ideas, creative and content, it also hurts your reputation in the online community. The online community can be a ruthless one. They have been known to find ways to blacklist you or start an online campaign against you. Obviously this is not something that you want to chance.

So how do you use other people's ideas, graphics and/or content without stealing them or plagiarizing their efforts all the while still benefiting from using these things?

Here's the answer.
Just give them credit and provide a link back to their site.

Wow! That's it? Yep, that's all you need to do to create a win-win for all. Now let's look at what the benefits of this are:

  1. you get to use the idea, graphic or content to improve your brand/company
  2. you get to flatter the person whose content, graphic or idea you are using by mentioning their name and website
  3. those flattered people will see that you are just looking to build your business and since you gave them credit for their ideas/content they are probably willing to promote your usage of their content and push it out to their following which could bring you a whole new market and more business and followers (retweeted through twitter, etc.)
  4. on the same note, others will see you are an ethical digital citizen and would be happy to interact and share more ideas with you because it is mutually beneficial
  5. lastly, these digital citizens are more likely to promote or retweet your message because you are an upstanding digital citizen yourself- you know the old adage you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.

So for those of you out there who wanted to use other people's ideas, graphics or content… I say have at it.

All I ask is please give the originator credit for all their hard work. These build stronger relationships instead of breaking relationships if caught in the act.

Also, here is an SEO tip to share when sharing an idea or someone else's content, create a link with one of the originators keywords to link back to their site.

An example would be:
This article written by Tess Wittler The Builder's Writer or
This idea developed by Dale Berkebile the inbound marketing expert or This photo taken by Stacey Pinkney of Simple Moments Photography

See you want to first give credit to the person you are borrowing the idea, content, photo or graphic from- then provide a link to their website. Using a keyword the originator would like to be ranked for in search engines helps pass on SEO Credit back to their website, blog or bio. Happy sharing and don't forget to give credit to those who you learn from and share with.

Please share your thoughts or other ideas on this topic. Just leave a comment below. Thanks.