One of the most amazing things I’ve experienced in the past decade of social media is the aspect of sharing. From the first time I read Cluetrain to the current place it takes in the multiple buzz word lexicon of social media – sharing is a central pillar of social engagement.
For many of us today, sharing is an easy exercise. Cut & paste a link, click a share button for a photo or embed a video in a post. We take it for granted… it’s easy!
For those getting started, or for businesses both large and small, sharing is not as clear as one would think it is. Businesses may worry about ownership of content (copyright) issues, or the context of the content they’re sharing and how it reflects or impacts their brand and reputation.
Individuals may have similar concerns, and might have trouble understanding the technical “how to’s” of proper attribution or embedding of HTML code. But that’s what the seasoned folks should be, and are, helping with – that’s a lot of what we share.
Back to sharing itself though.
As online social engagement grows with mainstream participation, people and businesses gain more from sharing than we initially realize. Giving back to the community has always been a cornerstone of corporate responsibility, and participating in online communities is easier and more cost effective than in the physical community.
Offering up tips, tricks, ideas, solutions, trials, samples, free product, services and more helps build community and reflects on individuals and brands in a positive light. Who doesn’t enjoy or respect those who are helpful? That’s not the same as giving things away simply for favors, that has it’s place in brand building, but not for community building.
Many will call it the “pay it forward” method, and indeed giving back to your community is crucial to the health of that community. It motivates others to do the same and thereby provides a basic, common knowledge to the community that benefits the whole. In the end, ideas are shared back to you or your business that you might otherwise not have thought of. And that’s always a good thing.
Photo credit: Andrew Crummy