Nowadays, social media become the lead of media channel. Not only social media has been used by personal social but also been used in brand marketing side. When almost every company use social media for marketing, plagiarism becomes a serious problem in the business world. Plagiarism can damage brands and cost millions money. The person who did social media plagiarism may go to the court.
What is plagiarism in social media?
Plagiarism is the act of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as their own original content (Meriam-Webster Learning Dictionary. Web. 30 Jan. 2015). Plagiarism in social media means brings someone’s idea to put in their own content. Attract more traffic for your social media platform by someone else’s brilliant idea. No matter is the whole idea of others or just part of the idea your steal from others, it will be plagiarism.
Do you have an experience that when you find something interesting or you have an idea to make fun for your Facebook friends, somebody post your idea to pretend their own? Sometimes this person who steals your idea even gives you credit. You will hate this person for sure. If this person does it again, probably you won’t be a friend of this guy.
Another example of plagiarism in social media is someone uses the same idea but transfers it to other language and posts it. It still is considered to plagiarism. I saw many digital marketers always looking for some interesting ideas from other language and translate to their own social media content. This is absolutely plagiarism. Translate plagiarism is difficult to be the catch, but still it is a bad behaviour and will be catch someday.
What impact of plagiarism on your personal brand?
First of all, if someone plagiarise in social media, he/her will lost all the trust that he/her build from very beginning in person and also in the brand. You will lose all the audience you have and make the bad influence of your brand. People will think all your words are untrusted. People cannot trust your product anymore. It takes a long time to let people forget your plagiarism. This transparency internet world. No one can lie forever or hide something behind.
Second, plagiarism can put you and your brand in danger. If your steal someone’s idea. People who realized will report to the original author. The author may catch your himself/herself. Then probably he/she can put you on the court. Yourself and your brand can be charged by law. Sometimes the penalty is much more than your gain by plagiarism. There is example posted in Washington Post: Buzzfeed fires Benny Johnson for plagiarism.
Third, plagiarism is a bad behaviour. If you do once, probably you will rely on that so much, because create your own idea to attract people is more difficult than just put some stuff that already attract people. However, you cannot always use others idea to present yourself or your own brand. It is unsustainable that you do not have own idea to brand your products.
Last but not least, plagiarism will damage others hard work. Nowadays, an idea is the most valuable things on social media. Marketers work hard to use their brilliant idea for branding. The stealing idea can make the idea useless, sometimes become nothing. If plagiarism does not get punished, it is huge lost for the industry.
What can you personally do to avoid plagiarizing content?
First, there is a great video that we can learn how to avoid plagiarism
Technology is one of the powerful tools that people can use to avoid plagiarism.
I am a social media marketer myself, a specialist in Wechat , a mobile text and voice messaging communication service developed by Tencent in China, first released in January 2011. It is one of the largest standalone messaging apps by monthly active users. In the first couple years, business started to use Wechat public account for branding themselves. However, content usually copied from websites and blogs. No one gets credit and no one care about plagiarism. Since the active user of Wechat was increased a lot, Wechat public account becomes more valuable for business. Some of the business hire a team to manage their public account. Some entrepreneurs even started their business from Wechat public account. More people looking for protection to their idea and content. Wechat announced ‘ Original work protection’ project. When people publish the work on the public account, they can apply for original work protection. Then the work will show the original author and original public account automatically. If someone use this article or a part of if. The article will link to the original article that published in original account direly. Another protection for Wechat is that if you use someone else’s word and not a credit to him/her, your account will be ban for a week, a month or forever. After Wechat announced this project, people who always created their own words feel more comfortable to use Wechat. Although many public accounts died because the cost of creative productivity is high, the content in Wechat became diversity and rich.
Not only in Wechat, but also in Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and etc. It is easy to credit to other when you use their works. Embedded hyperlink, @ and #, those easy tools could use for avoiding plagiarism. For example, when you use someone’s photo, put an embedded hyperlink to their site or you can @ the author. However, we do need permission from the author before we use the works.
Supervision by the masses
Fair internet environment needs everyone to contribute. Internet content had been adding millions every day. There is no specific content police to catch the criminals who steal others works. Everyone have to participate in supervision. If you find anyone use others work but not credit. Take 5 mins, send a DM to the author or report the plagiarism to the social media official account. Do not do it just for your own work and your friends’ work. Keep an eye on everyone. I believe that if you give a hand to others, you will get more helping than you give by others. Especially in the online world.
I host serval Wechat public accounts. My team and I use a lot of time to created content. It is true that idea becoming popular in the online word is extremely hard in this days. We need a long time to do research, information gather, editing and correction. When we really have something exciting, we do not want other people to steal our idea for sure. However, our eyes are limited. Even with technology protection, catching every thief is impossible. it is necessary that everyone keep an eye on plagiarism. Then the environment of the internet will be better and clean.
Asking permission for every work you use, this is important for an online marketer. Some works are not available for use or have some limit. We have to respect the decisions that author or company have made. After we get permissions, use it carefully. You should always check the citation rules that author needed. If there is the specific rule, cite the work exactly follow the rules. If there are no specific rules, you still have to use it carefully and follow the general citation rules. We have to check it after we done to make sure it credit to the right person or organizations.
The most important thing is that DO NOT THINK ABOUT PLAGIARISM EVER! Plagiarism is like drugs. When you do it once, you will always think about it. Plagiarism makes you lazy. You will never think carefully about your brand’s own vision. Image of your brand is unsustainable. The reputation of your brand will totally lose if your steal other works for branding.
What can you do to prevent others from plagiarising your own content on social media?
As I said before, using the technology that provides social media platform is a powerful way to protect your incredible works. If social media provide original work protection like Wechat, apply it when it possible.
Upload PDF version of text when it is possible. if not possible for PDF, always make visible about your name and your citation rules. Attach citation yourself, make a citation for your work as easy as you can.
Put the uncuttable watermark on your original pictures before you upload to the internet. Give a link to the original place that you posted it when you personally share your own pictures to another place. @ someone if this is co-work with others.
Put # below your every work includes pictures and blogs and Twitters. It not only helps you with avoiding plagiarism but also helps you increase SEO results.
Why is plagiarism not acceptable?
First of all, plagiarism is not moral both in the academic world and internet world. Plagiarism is like theft in the real life. No one should accept this activity happen. No one should think about getting benefit through plagiarism. No one should do business with the people who used to plagiarism.
Second, plagiarism is not only damaged others work but also, damage your own brand. In the online world, trust is the most important thing for a personal brand. If you did plagiarism once, all of your trust in your brand will lose forever.
Moreover, stealing an idea is not fit for your brand. Use the other brilliant idea may not fit your brand image and marketing plan. It is unsustainable that you steal ideas from others for your branding.
In conclusion, I want to make a promise myself first, I will never do plagiarism in social media world. It will hate other and also yourself.
“If someone is worth quoting then they are worth citing.” (Sukhova, Emilia. “Is Social Media Creating Plagiarism Problem (+Infographic).” Content Marketing, Blogging and Content Creation,n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2015.)