You might be an online thief if you make it a habit of plagiarizing content that is not your own. And if you think plagiarism is something only high school and college kids do to get through that nasty term paper, think again.
It can happen to YOU.
It seems only too easy to copy a webpage’s contents, to rip off a visual element or to “forget” to cite your sources when sharing OPC (other people’s content).
In fact, many members of the Social Solutions Collective have been victims of content thievery.
While I can’t speak on their behalf, I can tell you MY story. And in the interest of being polite and professional, I won’t name names.
As a “trust and verify” measure, I often set up Google Alerts of my online content. I use anything from keywords from our website, titles and phrases from blog posts, to online recommendations. One such recommendation I received on LinkedIn (previous to launching B Squared) got a ping back from Google Alerts.
A small investigation revealed a very interesting result: Someone with whom I used to be employed used MY LinkedIn recommendation from MY personal profile on LinkedIn to create a recommendation on their company website.
I was shocked, to say the least, that anyone would feel it was any sort of appropriate to use a recommendation left on my LI profile as their own, and worse, to take out any reference to my name and replace it with their company name. Shameful.
So what can you do if this happens to you?
1. First things first, verify that your content isn’t being plagiarized. You can do this by taking snippets of your work and setting up a Google Alert (for a video on setting up Google Alerts, CLICK HERE).
2. If you catch someone using your words without citing you as the source, or stealing your visuals, or using any of your trademarked materials, take screen shots of the violation or download/save the stolen work.
From here you can take a few courses of action:
1. Send a polite email to the offender explaining why you believe your content is being plagiarized – which has worked for several women in the Collective.
Google does not take the act of plagiarism lightly, and they typically respond quickly to well filled out reports by victims of online theft.
I’m sure MANY of you can share instances of online theft, so let’s hear ‘em!
See you in the social sphere!
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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and customer care agency. She's also the Co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast with Mark Schaefer, where they discuss jaw-dropping marketing trends. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout!
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