Is Reusing Content a Punishable Offense?
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Someday, if you haven't already, you will find writing is to be an essential skill (regardless of career path.) No one is exempt from the writen word, regardless if you are a designer, marketer or media buyer. I myself (a designer,) am constantly writing e-mails, composing tweets, shaping social media updates, vomiting out proposals and agonizing over blog posts. If your breathing and earning money then chances are you are also writing.
We're fortunet to live in a time where technology provides us with sophisticated writing tools. No need for a jar of ink and a quill. Technology allows us to save, chop and expand our work as we see fit. Furthermore, it's now effortless to distribute our writing to thousands of sources and mediums. Of course distributing the same content to multiple mediums means repurposing content. After all, why write the same thing twice when you can save it and use it again later? But is this a good idea? Should you reuse content? Let's explore the implications.
Can You Reuse Content?
Marketers have been reusing content since the birth of the internet. Early websites were nothing more than a duplication company brochures. This practice was so widespread it aptly earned the term "brochureware." Today the same practice exists, marketers will use the same message on their website, through every social network and in traditional advertising. But is this the best way to communicate with your audience? Jacob Neilsen says "No."
Audience, Intention and Context Shape Content
If you are not familiar with Neilsen, I recommend you review his "Alertbox" articles. In a nutshell, Neilsen is a leading researcher and publisher on website usability. Most recently Neilsen published his findings on the reuse of content. Specifically, he found reusing content leads to bad experiences. This most commonly occurs when people repurpose print content for the web. Neilsen notes that good print content and good web content are fundamentally different. As one example, some online news sites try and reuse their print materials and experience dissatisfied users as a result. Alternatively, successful websites like The Drudge Report and CNN write content specifically. While reusing content saves time it does so at a cost. Each medium requires a unique approach and therefor unique content. For example, many argue status updates on Linkedin should be different than Twitter. This is because the audience, intention and context changes based on the medium and the content should as well.
What's Your Experience
Share you experiences with poorly repurposed content with the class. Have you come across websites that are overwhelmingly text heavy? Tweets that should be press releases? If you can't think of anything surf the web and find some examples of content that would be easier to read in print than web (hint: look at some local news websites.)