It happens all the time. More often than not in the world of daily content churn. Photos, videos, recipes, ENTIRE BLOG POSTS are borrowed and rebranded without permission in order to earn eyeballs. Even if you give the original creator (token) credit, you are stealing from them. Stealing traffic, stealing Facebook views, stealing likes, stealing social media credibility, stealing THEIR livelihood.
And just in case your moral compass is THAT broken, stealing is stealing even if there is no harm.
But there is harm.
You see, the reason bloggers go to such painstaking efforts to create interesting, educational and engaging posts, labouring over the perfect photos that capture their stories in pictures, researching keyword phrases that will draw in new readers, monitoring social media for trending topic, is because traffic, likes, subscribers, followers, fans, etc. add up to money in their banks.
Oh, but it’s not that much. Just a few page views stolen. Just a couple hundred new Facebook fans. Just a viral video that isn’t connected to the original author. How much money can that possibly add up to? Everyone knows that ad rates are way down so the blogger probably doesn’t rely on them for their living.
WRONG! They are just the numbers and statistics that bloggers use to market themselves to brands. Just the credibility that they use to land the ambassadorship with the travel destination or the sponsored post with the fashion brand. Just the dollars and cents that add up to a mortgage payment, lessons for the kids or an extra weekend away with the spouse.
JUST don’t do it.
If you don’t have the time or ability to create your own content, here is how to properly borrow content:
Share the Original Video From Their Facebook Page — Click on that good old share button and let Facebook do the rest (by maintaining the link back to the original source). That way you both benefit. You share something that your fans will enjoy and reshare (possibility crediting you as the source) AND the blogger benefits from increased exposure. Anything that breaks that link to the source is theft.
Post the Recipe Title and Thumbnail With a Link to the Full Version — Write a blog post with a list of your favorite recipes and include the recipe name, a thumbnail image and maybe even a short excerpt from their post, but do not, I repeat DO NOT, copy and paste the entire post and give them an attribution at the bottom. That’s bullshit and you know it.
Ask Permission to Republish the Post — Write a nice note to the blogger telling them how much you love their post and how perfect it is for your audience, and politely ask their permission to publish it on your site. Explain all the details of what you intend to do with it and how you intend to repay their kindness with blatant promotion of their site (and maybe, just maybe, they will say yes, but if they don’t, you no publish, are we clear?).
Hire the Blogger to Create Content for You — Pay the blogger directly for their content or ask them to create content exclusively for your audience. Bloggers earn their living by creating killer content for themselves and very often, others so if the content you are considering stealing is such a perfect fit for your audience, chances are the blogger is too.
The bottom line is if you are sharing content that you did not create yourself, you need to ask yourself if the manner by which you are sharing it benefits the content creator. If it doesn’t, whatever you are doing is stealing and you need to seek their explicit permission to share it.
And readers, please take the time to track down the original source before resharing content from pages if it doesn’t look like it’s related to the page (i.e. the radio station page that is sharing viral cat videos). Yes, it takes a little more time, but a quick google will usually lead you to the original source. Your personal Karma thanks you (and bloggers thank you).