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Six Rules On Sharing Third Party Content On Social Media

Sharing third party content on social media
               Image credit: Gerd Altmann

Every day we share digital content without thinking twice about it – often written or designed by someone we’ve never met. This is third party content. We might share third party content because we find it amusing, interesting, helpful, informative, enlightening or thought-provoking. But most of all we share it because we feel it reflects our own ‘message’.

This holds true whether we are sharing something with our colleagues, friends or potential customers and clients; we are defined by everything we share, particularly on social media. And third party content is really just an extension of our own perspective, opinions and ‘brand’.

Three reasons it is good practice to incorporate third party content sharing into your content marketing strategy

  1. Third party content can provide vital support to your content creation team, and help to maintain a steady outflow. Regular content sharing is essential for maintaining, building and engaging audience, but it can be a challenge to produce large amounts of fresh new content daily. The more high quality relevant content you have to share, the better – regardless of who created it.
  2. It enriches your overall content offering and creates variation for your readers, offering different style, tone, format and a fresh perspective. It also illustrates to your audience that you’re not just a soft sales machine – you have a vested interest in providing them with information they want and need. Sharing third party content makes you a more valuable source of information to them.
  3. Third parties want their content to be shared – so you’re doing them a favour by expanding their article audience further. This also opens up the possibility of content sharing in kind; some marketers are open to returning the favour. If you regularly share someone’s content and feel that your content might be of interest to their readers, you may be able to negotiate some return article shares, increasing traffic to your own site.

Everyone is getting involved in third party content sharing; even news outlets have started to rely on third parties, searching popular forums for funny and interesting stories that their audiences will love.

However as with any content marketing tactic, there are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Assign credit clearly whenever you share a piece of third party content. Being accused of plagiarism is not a good look, and it will tarnish your audience’s perception of you. Whenever you share a piece of third party content make it clear you didn’t write it, either by tagging the company in question or just mentioning their name – for example, ‘We love this infographic about data theft by Sue Rawlins’.
  2. Stay relevant, and don’t fall into the trap of sharing funny/cute but completely irrelevant posts for likes. People aren’t stupid, and if a post isn’t connected to your messaging in any way you may find yourself accused of laziness. Every piece of content must strengthen your messaging, so sharing relevant material with corresponding information to your own is key.
  3. Develop a list of key, credible contributors producing interesting relevant content you wish to share. This is especially important if you have a team working on your content strategy – it keeps everyone on the same page, targeting the same contributors. It can also help you to build alliances. Communicate with the contributors – let them know that you’re actively endorsing them and increasing their reach, and find out if they’d be interested in promoting your content in turn.
  4. Never copy and paste third party content to your own website without permission, even if you credit it, as this can be seen as ‘stealing’ click-throughs from the original writer. Respect copyright, and always include a link back to the original poster’s site – even for images.
  5. Keep a healthy sharing ratio of your own content and third party content, to ensure that a healthy stream of traffic still goes to your site. Otherwise you run the risk of becoming more of an influencer for other businesses and individuals than for yourself. Some businesses prefer to share more of other’s content than their own, to maximise the variety of their content. Find out what works for you – you want to keep a balance to ensure your own brand ‘voice’ is clear’, but also to ensure sufficient content variety and volume for your consumers.
  6. Fact check the content you share. Just because it’s pre-written doesn’t guarantee it’s right. Review and proof each piece of content just as you would your own, as it doesn’t reflect well on you to share incorrect facts or data.

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