This past week, I’ve had people repost my blog twice, word for word on other sites, without attributing me. My entire blog post. Incredible right? I can’t even imagine copying and pasting someone’s entire blog post and posting it onto my site without permission and without including the author’s name. It happened twice to me just this past week.
I’ve also been noticing something in social media for quite some time: Educated, wonderful, brilliant, people stealing other people’s work or sharing other’s work as their own. Unthinkable right? It happens every second of every minute of every hour on social media. Just as there is an etiquette in real life, there is also an etiquette online and within social media that must be adhered to. It is critical to employ good etiquette lest you lose your credibility over time.
In social media, giving attribution to a tweet, a Facebook post, an Instagram photo, a LinkedIn share, a Google + post, etc., is also imperative. It’s beyond rude and annoying to pass off another’s work as if it is your own. Whether it was a language arts class in high school or a university level course on composition, we are all taught how important it is to provide attribution to another’s work. When you post a quote, attribute who originally shared the thought it if you saw it via someone else. It’s a dead giveaway you stole it if you’re posting a quote imbedded in a photo that someone else previously posted. It takes time to create these kinds of images with quotes, (I know… I spend hours creating these kinds of tweets and posts). Photos posted and shared must be attributed the same way, give credit to the person who you got it from, otherwise you ripped it off. When you retweet or repost someone else’s material make sure to include them in your tweet (and anyone else they included as attribution in their post).
I get so frustrated on Twitter. I’ve had tweets, along with photos that I took and paired with a post, duplicated word for word by someone and shared as if it was their own. Completely ripped off. I’ve found some of the worst offenders of this are people with huge follower numbers, one person had 170,000 followers, another 300,000. This brought an instant block from me. I realize blocking them won’t prevent them from pirating my tweets, but I cannot stomach looking at their tweets knowing that they absolutely know better (with numbers like that I assume they understand the rules, and worked hard to get those numbers…unless they purchased their following.). Did they reuse my tweets without attributing because at the time they ripped them off, I was a “little fish” with less than 10,000 followers? I don’t know, but the number of followers or friends you have shouldn’t make a difference in how we treat one another online, and in real life.
One of my social media friends, Emily Thomas (@emitoms) has had the same thing happen to her on Instagram. People have taken her personal photos and used them as if they were their own without providing any attribution. This is very poor etiquette. Those of us on social media are happy to have others share what we have created, but we get a bit frustrated when others pass our work off as their own.
Another important Social Media Etiquette practice is Give first before asking to receive. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have, 55 or 355,000, ask how you can be of service to others. Don’t just look to see what you can get from someone else or their following, but give and offer to help another person. How can you contribute or support someone? I remember when I had less than 1,000 followers, innocently offering, Sean Gardner (@2morrowknight), who has 750,000 followers, if there was anything I could do to be helpful. I went so far as to message him to DM (Direct Message in Twitter lingo) me if there was anything he’d like me to retweet for him and I’d be happy to offer my support. Now as I look back, I think it’s hilarious that I offered to help him since I had so few followers, but I was genuine and sincere in my desire to do something for him. I’m sure if he even saw my DM (I hardly ever look at mine since it is riddled with spam), that he might have smiled to himself thinking who the heck is this person?! Thankfully Sean didn’t respond with a LOL or an ROFL because of my low numbers. Sean is a super classy guy and is always engaged in retweeting and posting those folks new to Twitter, as well as, individuals with well-established accounts.
My friend Brian Fanzo (@isocialfanz), a social media superstar in his own right, was sharing on Facebook just this past week how he felt a bit frustrated and drained by those who would use his good naturedness for their own gain. It is critical on social media we treat other people the way we would wish to be treated. There is a reason why all of the world’s great faiths and cultures espouse The Golden Rule.
Some might argue that they’re only looking to use social media for business; making sales and building brands, not making friends. The problem with this line of thinking is, whether you are in real life or online with social media, everything is about building positive relationships. It’s ALL about relationships! We can quickly use up any social currency we have by having poor etiquette and treating others with a lack of respect. (for more information on the concept of social currency, please read my article on the topic by clicking here)
My dear friend, Ted Rubin (@tedrubin) is a thought leader on the concept of relationships and the return we generate from them. He says, “Return on Relationship™… simply put the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship. ROI is simple $’s and cents. #RonR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations and sharing.” I LOVE what Ted has to share about the value of our relationships! If you’re not following him, you should be!
Bryan Kramer (@bryankramer), CEO of Purematter, is on the leading edge of discussing how we are no longer living in a world of business and consumer relationships. As he says, “There is no more B2B or B2C, its #H2H: Human to Human.” (You can watch Bryan’s TED talk on Why Sharing is Reimagining the Future by clicking here.)
The very nature of our interactions is changing at lightning speed. No longer are we tucked away behind national borders or the exterior wall of our home or work, we are challenged every day to build stronger relationships with people around the world.
Some Tips to Twitter Abbreviation and Attribution
You can of course simply click retweet and share someone else’s post as Tony Robbins (@tonyrobbins) was so kind enough to do with my tweet of one of his quotes (another reason attribution is important):
If you would like to repost someone else’s content, here are some abbreviated attribution tags and methods you can use with examples.
RT (Re-Tweet) – Use this when directly retweeting someone’s post. For Example:
You can also use via instead of, or along with RT
MT (Modified Tweet) – Use this when you are retweeting but significantly modifying someone’s post. For Example: The Original:
“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” – Alexander Hamilton — Aziz Abdur-Ra’oof (@ziz87) January 11, 2015
The Modified Version:
HT (Hat Tip) – Use this when you are only using a small element or idea from someone else’s post, but otherwise fully rewriting and sharing as your own. The Original:
The New Version: