Keys to Being Social: Honor

A major factor in spending the time and, often, money to learn social media, harness your online presence, and maximize the effectiveness of your digital space, is to share content and establish yourself as an expert in the field. And if you want traffic, continuous, regular posting is good.

“Google loves fresh content and posting a blog regularly is one way to get crawled by the Google bots.” Ruby Rusine, “Why Is a Blog Important To Your Business.” 

Within the context of social media, we often discuss the concept of branding. Along with other posts in the Keys to Being Social Series, character has an impact on your branding. Why? Character shapes the ethics of how your social tactics will be used to achieve the goals in your overall social strategy.

Where honor most shows itself is within the content that you both share and create. Plagiarism is an epidemic with screen capturing, copy/paste, and right clicking on image. Surprisingly enough, many people believe that if they do an images search on Google, those images are free to use. Plagiarism is both unethical and illegal. This applies to both words and photos.

There are two categories of content: created and curated.

Created Content

Created content is what comes out of your brain and is translated onto the paper, canvas, or back-lit screen.

Ideas are never without precedent as, the saying goes, “there is nothing new under the sun.” However, how you present them in your own words  and style is uniquely yours.

I’m convinced everyone has content but they may not realize it. In fact, this idea was reinforced when I recently attended the Social Media Mastermind Orange County Meetup. During the discussion, the facilitator and founder, Robert Watson, said,

“You should be able to write 30 things down about your business. Those are your blogging topics.” Bob Watson

I think it’s sage advice I’m personally going to take to heart.

Curated Content

Curated Content can manifest itself in two main ways: reblogging and social sharing.


Reblogging’s main appeal is that it gives you a potentially wider audience. The downside is that it essentially steals traffic from your site, especially if lacks proper attribution and a link to the original source.  Without attribution, you are claiming this work for yourself.

This is a good time to remind ourselves:

“Copying nearly all of a work, or copying its ‘heart’ is less likely to be fair.” Electronic Frontier Foundation 

Using someone else’s text on your blog without explicit permission or syndication is wrong. The insult to the injury is to leave off the writer’s name and link to the original work. Don’t be that person. Read about this from the U.S. Copyright Office.

Reblogging is also a way people make money with affiliate links and the like. It’s the hop, skip, and a jump method of sharing which, as a user, is completely annoying.

Social Sharing

Pinterest is the ultimate in social sharing curation, especially when you pin an item from its website. Retweeting is social sharing on Twitter, and Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus all allow for sharing (public and friends-only or specific circles, groups, etc.). When you use the native sharing tools within the platform, you’re pretty safe.

Social sharing is wrong when you steal photos (downloading image, uploading image) from [Insert Social Network Here] and then uploading it with or without that caption as your own. Saying “courtesy of” does not make it okay. I’ve noticed this happen a lot with Buffer users and Pinterest. It’s not the tool’s fault when it’s user(s) violate TOS and copyright laws.

Image Use  – Created v. Curated

With image use there are a few options.

  • Sign up for a paid stock image service (like iStock).
  • Take your own photos.
  • Use images that fall under the Creative Commons license. (I search Flickr specifically for those type of images.)

Read “7 Best Practices when Posting Images in Blogs” by Ruby Rusine for more information.


Again, unless the musician, record company, or copyright owner gives you specific (usually written) permission to use their music in your video, podcast, or other media, it is a violation of copyright laws. This is why I wrote my own jingle for my videos.

Honor and Character:

Honor is a pillar in the foundation of your character. Stealing is inauthentic, at best. You may have tens or hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter and make all of  your money online, but if you don’t have your honor, you have nothing. Your foundation is faulty and it will eventually give out and your character will be revealed. It’s not worth the risk.

Sound Off:

Have you had your content scraped or stolen? How have you dealt with it? Have you been sued?

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