Content is critical to a successful digital marketing campaign. It’s also challenging and time consuming to generate the type of quality content that will attract your target market and inspire them to engage with you. Unfortunately, many marketers look for shortcuts for generating content which leads to disjointed messaging that struggles to establish credibility with target markets.
There are only two authentic ways of generating content:
- Creating original and accurate content that engages your target market.
- Compiling credible information for your audience and making meaningful commentary on that content (while crediting the content’s creator).
There is varied media for delivering content from video, to blogging, to published articles, to graphic representations; but every type of media boils down to one of these two content strategies for generating content.
Unfortunately, there are two common inauthentic ways to generate content, plagiarism and regurgitation.
Regurgitation is often repeating oneself or others without expanding on or digging deeper into the topic. Rethinking how you create your content will often shift repetition into clearly communicating your valuable knowledge into compelling content marketing.
Plagiarism is a tougher habit to break. Marketers often view their own plagiarism in a lens of self-delusion, referring to it as their ‘spin’ rather than a copy. In fact, I rarely find an instance where plagiarism is executed with malicious intent, but rather it’s rooted in fear that the marketer is incapable of making compelling content.
To cleanse plagiarism, the first step is identifying if you are guilty of it. Most plagiarism in digital marketing is either assembled or restructured.
Assembled plagiarism is seeking out content and then assembling it into something new. For example, a blogger might select a topic they want to cover and then do a web search for that topic. They then copy sections of others’ articles and assemble those into their own post. They then ‘complete’ their content by making bridges between the disjointed copy to make it somewhat more cohesive. If you find that the majority of a piece of content you create is taken from another source and you’re attempting to glue it together, it’s likely that you’re guilty of plagiarism.
Restructured plagiarism is taking something that already exists and modifying copyrighted material or specific elements to make it ‘their own’. There are even tools that originated in academia making their way into digital marketing like Spinbot, Essay Rewriter, Free Article Spinner, and Auto Rewriter. These tools restructure sentences and liberally apply the thesaurus to written content. If you are lifting and shifting content, especially if you are doing it in an automated way, you have fallen into a process of plagiarism.
Do any of these content creation processes sound similar to how you develop content? Hopefully not, but if so, awareness is the first step to eliminating the problem. But is it really a problem? After all there are many in depth articles about exactly how much of an article, image, layout, intellectual property, etc. needs changed to avoid copyright infringement. If your content doesn’t risk a law suit, should it concern you?
Ethics aside, plagiarism will erode credibility in digital marketing. Most notably because it:
- Makes for disjointed communications that struggle to find a stable voice to your target market.
- Results in poorly constructed messages that lack the appropriate level of professionalism (try running your article through one of the rewrite tools above to see an example of how mangled the text can get and how the initial meaning can be completely misconstrued).
- Often takes the same amount of time as creating your own content. Piecing together disparate information or restructuring something in a different but understandable way is often not a fast process.
- Ensures you won’t provide original insight because by definition you are simply repackaging what others have already communicated. This ensured you won’t be a market leader but rather flying under the radar hoping your target audience doesn’t discover the authentic voice and insights that you are pulling from.
Plagiarism is often falsely conveyed as inspiration. There’s a difference between inspiration and theft. Trainers, consultants, and professional coaches should be actively learning about their field of specialty. Sometimes the information that we encounter can be incorporated into our digital marketing but needs to be done in an authentic way by making new insights into the topic and crediting the original content creator when referencing their insights. When done appropriately, it builds credibility as a market leader, rather than assembling or restructuring what others have created.
Image courtesy of Kippelboy | commons.wikimedia.org