Online media makes it easier to copy things. As it is the case with so many other activities, however, execution is key. In researching information for this post, for example, I came across a post Lee Odden has written about 5 ways to source content on Twitter.
- polls — I do mine very informally, usually when I'm researching a story
- Twitter chats — in addition to participating, I was the founder, then co-host of #kaizenblog
- by crowd sourcing — some use this to learn which topics interest their network
- searching for questions — this can also give you ideas of the kinds of information one looks for
- searching for tips and smart people — is there a pattern that can be surfaced?
When quoting an article, we credit by linking, and listing from the post, as I've done here per the terms of the creative commons license. Many don't know this, but the Creative Commons licenses spell out terms and protect the work of creators.
Creators retain the copyright of their work. The two are not mutually exclusive. The most important part of the license is attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
In the early days, Conversation Agent used the "non commercial use" option. Every single day some person or another asks me to republish my content — sometimes entire posts or series of posts for their books — in exchange for credit. I'll take the money, thank you very much. No takers on that so far.
As for the credit, that is tricky. Why is giving credit so hard?
One of the most often cited reasons is that ideas are free and we should be able to build on each other's. Others fear they won't be looked to as thought leaders if they do. Which is interesting, because none of us is born learned — we all learn somewhere. It is a sign of maturity and professionalism to admit and share where.
Not crediting is also happening in school term papers, and I imagine that many an author is actually convinced to have come up with an idea or concept when someone else they read in fact did.
Quoting and crediting is done all the time in university research papers, articles for publication, and books — all publications of a certain tenor and weight list sources and further reading. If you flip to the end notes in a book, or at the end of a paper, you will see the proper style.
Sourcing content can be fun
My approach to social and to knowledge in general is to make researching topics and information fun. Even though I have different settings in different networks, I like to participate in the communities that form in those networks.
Since we have a good handle on some ideas for Twitter already, let's look at other networks and tools. Here are a few examples for content ideas on LinkedIn, which is often overlooked by many, yet is rich with activity.
- Crowdsourcing a post with a question, and integrating email from LinkedIn is a possibility
- Looking for patterns in the types of questions that are being asked is also information
- Gathering intelligence you can draw insights from is another good use
We also talked about using Delicious and SlideShare for ideas. The latter is a bit more work, yet because so many of us are visual creatures, it can really pay off. Google search, StumbleUpon, Reddit, YouTube, and Flickr are other potential sources, as are books, movies, stories, and experiences of any kind.
By definition, when I hit publish on this post, I am still pushing content out there. However, you may comment, link to it, quote it, build on it, etc. In marketing, we still call all the times you come in contact with content from a company or a brand touch points.
A phone conversation and a customer support call are still content.
What digital is allowing us to do, is to shift from orchestrated touch points to voluntary micro interactions. In other words, when I put my content out here, I do not necessarily know or can predict within a certain degree of accuracy how much you will interact with it.
However, the mere fact that I am exposing new ideas and stories to your reactions and engaging in interactions with you, allows us to build context together. These interactions form the fodder for further blog posts or conversation — online and offline.
The key is how and when you and your customers want the information and when they need to use it. Content at the point of use? We've been talking about the knowledge flow and the power of pull, which a respectable content strategy would address. Noah Brier asks what the tool or technology to manage bits of content would look like.
How do you go about sourcing content? What are the stumbling blocks on crediting those sources?