Is Reusing Content a Punishable Offense?

Ross Johnson's picture
Instructor
5/29/2012
New Media

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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.)

Comments & Feedback

Student

This is an issue that I have come across multiple times in my own research. I can recall attempting to hunt down further information on an article or piece of information and being forced to read the same facts/information on a multitude of websites, but with the same exact approach and information. Re-using information is a tricky subject because people are alreay pointing and shaking their finger before reading the full story. If it's not plagarism, it's somtimes necessary but can be just as problematic as well. There is a huge probability that the young woman on her iPad is different (and prefers different content, in a different approach, voice, etc.) than an elderly woman who got her iPad for Christmas from her grand-kids and frequently reads the newspaper, not the online publication. These are simple details that are overlooked and absolutely need to be considered when moving from one medium to another. A change of pace and technology means reaching out to the reader individually, acknowledging what medium their using, and owning it.

Student

I think this is a pretty interesting post, because I know of multiple blogs that re-use content daily. When it comes to blogging, I think it's hard to claim jurisdiction of a news story. With this said, there are still tons of instances of design-jocking that I have noticed on the web, where people will take pictures or grapics with no regard for the person who made it. I think type of negligence is growing actually, and will become a bigger issue as time continues. 

Student

I think re-using content, as long as your are not using plagerism shouldn't be a punishable offense. We learn from other peoples mistakes and build our new ideas off of them. This shouldn't be a punishment because we are seeing the flaws in someone elses work and are using it to better the idea. There shouldn't be any punishment when the person is only working off of someone elses previous concept.  No new ideas will ever be generated if we don't start from somewhere, which is likely to be something that is already been stated. 

Student

I think reusing content is useful and helpful at times. I think when people respect the etiquette behind it, then reusing is fine. For example I love reading Glamour online. Often on the A Week's Worth of Wedding Inspiration, the author is resuing content. Yet she always adds a small statement why the article or photo spoke to her along with a link to the article. I think this a proper way to resuse the content. Sometimes the statment is directly from the post, but she gives credit to the original site.  I don't mind that, it's when information is being restated with no new idea to the topic, then it becomes a waste of the readers time. Reusing conent is fine, but if there is no purpose behind it, purpose is lost.  

Student

I think re-using content, as long as your are not using plagerism shouldn't be a punishable offense.  Often times, in research, you build off of previous experience and methods.  We learn from other peoples mistakes and work off of them.  There shouldn't be any punishment when the person is only working off of previous research.  Evolvement can only happen if we don't keep re-starting in the same area.  If people were scared that everytime they were to use other people's research or words then we would never improve on anything.

Student

I think content can be reused 'correctly'. On one extreme, it is definitely wrong to over re-use content. But in the same right, I wouldn't avoid it entirely. I think that re-using content can allow a user to establish their perspective. With information being so readily available to the public via technology, I find it very rare that someone gets their news from a single site, or doesn't do browsing beyond that point. This is where re-using shines in my opinion. Another blog can re-use the content, but offer different insight about it that the user may have not recieved from the previous source. I believe re-using can allow for bloggers to establish themselves and their ideas.

Student

I don't believe reusing content is a punishable offense. We've been reposting and recreating posts for as long as we've been writing and making art. If everyone became scared of being prosecuted for reusing content than no new content would ever flourish. 

Student

Reusing and repurposing are punishable crimes. Where is the focus on the user? Users use different types of media for different types of purposes. Neilsen points out that user experience must be taken into account. Figure out what your target audience needs, and then provide that experience for them.

Student

I have never been a guy to reuse content, especially for school or any other reason.  I think some people do reuse content subconsciously and consciously.  Some people think I won't get in trouble, because this sounds like something I would say.  Well either way it is stealing.  I personally think that plagarism is a very ridiculous crime.  Why take credit for another man's work, when you could be doing something equally as amazing as the man whom you just reused his content.  I know we aren't talking about straight up plagarism, but in my AP literature class senior year, my teacher accused more than half of the class of plagarising.  Of course that wasn't true, but the service she used to detect plagarism picked up on what we said and called it stealing.  If a service for a school is that strict about it, why aren't more websites.  I think that reusing content depends on whether it is to just show or to use for personal gain.

Student

Reusing content is acceptable only if one reuses every so often. If someone is following another on a blog or social media site the follower wants to see something different not the same thing over and over again unless it is being used as a referance, or if the topic is being expanded upon. No one on the planet wants to see a company with the same commercial replaying for years, that's just boring. Companies use the same story like Progessive with FLO or Priceline with Will Shatner, or Captial One with the Vikings. These stories and content send the message by repeating with faces and situations but differ when explaining by giving the people different commericals. If companies did this to the content of the social media sites or the homepage it will keep things fresh and will not bore the people searching.

Student

I think it's appropriate to reuse content if you think it's right for you. I do believe in giving credit where credit is due, so whenever you use  someone else's content you definitely, without a doubt, need to reference that person but I really don't think it's a problem. The phrase "great minds think alike" is actaully true and isn't just a cliche, so it's bound to happen that someone else has the same great idea as you and maybe presented it more eloquently. If you've already posted something about a certain subject and you find that it comes up again, I think it's a great idea to reuse content you've already created. It'll get more people to view what you've already done and may even establish yourself as an expert. I have come across websites that are overwhelmingly text heavy and believe the content on those websites should be saved for print -- the internet is supposed to be visual so staring at a lot of text without anything else won't increase readership in my opinion. 

Student

I think that it is okay to reuse content, especially when it's news.  Most likely, people will use google, bing, or ask and they will ask it about a historical event or news that could have happened yesterday.  All these search engines will probably bring up different articled that all have the same content.  If there was just one article on something, my guess is that it would be hard to find.  It's hard to imagine, with an Inernet that is so large that no content is being reused.  We all just have to get used to it, if we published something online chances are someone has already published something like it, and someone will after you.  I do agree that it would be nice if people couldn't republish content on the web, because it would make it easier to use and more organized, but it is impossible to do.

Student

My opinion on this is that I would always prefer things to be written in a book form article or paper rather than internet. To not get me wrong the internet is very reliable and easy to use, but I just read better with things in front of me it tends to be easier that way for me. Also it seems more factual than an internet article I find so many things on the internet that are just not true and is not reliable information. Many things on the internet are just reused I have read the same thing in different formats many of times just searching for something as simple as a driving directions. With all said the internet is a great source for so many reasons it is just my personal prefrence to have things in a hard cover format.

Student

I feel like personally to a certain extent content should be reused because people use more than one website to retrieve information, but it should not be word from word though. People can explain content in differnt forms with not saying the exact samething but meanings will be similar. People do not like reading the exact same thing twice so puting an unique spin to it will make the reader engage more in the content and want to read it. As mentioned above in the passage about many arguing status updates on Linkedin should be differnent than twitter. What I feel about that statement is that people should be mindful in what they place on their twitter status if they have LinkedIn attatch to it or vise versa they should have more professional tweets or just unlink those two websites togther to where unprofessional information does not show up. To be honest being careful in what you place on social websites should always me a must becasue just because its not showing up on your LinkedIn profile which is more professional it can show up on your twitter profile and you can be following someone that could be future employer and not even know it so it is always good to be careful becasue stuff that is put on websites are there forever.

Student

After reading Nielsen's findings, I think that I tend to lean more towards the "re-purposing" school of thought. From my own experience, I know that it is an awful idea to try and use a desktop version of a website for a mobile version. But for marketing materials like press releases, tweet, blog posts, e-mail marketing, brochures, web content. etc, I think there's a lot to be said for re-purposing. Now, I'm not saying that you should copy and paste directly and expect results, but minor tweaks with same verbage, images, style, etc does a lot for brand recognition. If someone sees a tweet about a piece of news from a company and then reads a press release about it later-- same phrasing, same look, same tone--chances are they'll be more likely to remember your name in the future. Also, with high incidences of audience fragmentation due to the plethora of media platforms available, it's likely that you're reaching unique sets of eyes on each platform. In an agency situation, sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day to optimize content for eight different platforms. If an account manager has to put out 3 different pieces of news on 8+ platforms and optimize each for its respective platform, there's a large change the quality of the original as going to decline as they move along. Also, it takes time to get content approved. There are often different levels of management that need to verify everything that gets released. If you're bombarding them with new variations of content 24 times a day, its going to be difficult to get anything approved or released. Why not just stick with one proven high-quality piece of content?

I've noticed however that news articles in a paper, don't translate well to web as far as formatting and making people want to read them. Web content needs to be broken into small paragraphs with line breaks in between. Reading on the web is different than reading print. Your brain processes it differently. So, if you want people to actually read your content on the web, whether its copy and pasted from print or not, it needs to be tailored to web reading. 

Student

"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."

I agree that status updates on LinkedIn should be different than Twitter updates.  I have found some people I am connected with on LinkedIn have linked their Twitter accounts to their LinkedIn, so whenever they tweet something --professional or unprofessional-- it shows up on their LinkedIn.  If he had a more professional twitter account he could link up to his LinkedIn page, then that would work.  Those connected with him have to see some cursing and unprofessional-ness on his LinkedIn.  Only recently did he realize that was probably a mistake and removed his twitter account from his LinkedIn page.

I'm using him as an example because I do think that the content used (whether newly created or reused) needs to fit the audience the website or user is trying to reach out to.  Yes, it may take more time to create new content for your LinkedIn and Twitter when they could just easily be linked up, but it's benefical in the sense that if you're trying to be professional, you may not want to advertise how you lost your fake id last night, for example.

Student

There are definitely a lot of start up companies that have trouble with reusing content. One in particular that I can think of is U-Go Stations. They were our clients for our ADV 486 campaigns class and thought their website was great, but there homepage was one big block of text and a picture of a bunch of old guys (the board) standing behind a EV charger.  We had to find a nice way to tell them in our presentation that they needed to clean up their site, get rid of half of their content, and make the information on the site something consumers will be interested in reading.  Hopefully they will redesign soon, so far they have only changed the picture. 

Student

To an extent, it is perfectly fine to reuse content, it is only natural that you'll feel the same way, or that the story doesn't change, or that a-b-c- still led to x-y-z. Even across different audiences the story/statement/emotion will remain the same, and potentially more damaging than being repetitive is being contradictory. But as with anything, there has to be a balance, one can communicated the same facts without using the same words, and should do so whenever possible. if you have a following across the different platforms no one is going to want to read the same thing, and furthermore one should be benefited by following you across platforms by being able to get something new from each of the platforms, or else it would prove pointless too have invested time into reading your content in more than one place. Think of it as a synergistic relationship, that is by reading across all your different platforms one should gain more than if reading any one particular or any combination that is less than the whole.


In addition to concerns of communicating your complete idea, each platform is designed to communicate with different audiences, and as such will allow for different tones of said communication. It almost necessitates at the very least some moderation of the content. 

Student

The Digital Bits is one of my favorite news sites. It specializes in delivering news about upcoming bluray and dvd discs. Unfortunately though, the website as an older retro design that seems to have come from the 90s and is EXTREMELY text heavy. I often find myself overwhelmed at the sheer amount of content available. The website does a good job of crediting its sources but can do much better in condensing the information and making it more visually appealing.

Student

I believe that the reuse of content has a blurred line when it comes to right and wrong. Personally, I think that it revolves around the saying "There is a time and a place". The benefits of rusing content are also the downfalls. Is reusing content all bad? No, but it isn't all good either. For example, I do not think that the same posts should be used on all social media platforms, because each one has a separate purpose/objective with an audience selective to that purpose. If they were all meant to have the same generic posts/updates across platforms wouldn't they all be the same? What is the purpose of many?

Student

It depends completely on what you would be reusing and if you are adding to it. If you have an awesome story that people want to know about and more details come into it I feel like you could reuse your content from the previous one. With that said you shouldn’t use it word for word you should do an overview of it to refresh your readers and give some insight to new readers coming into it the discussion. You should also add on to it. If your not adding anything to it than you shouldn’t reuse it. As for posting a tweet and then posting the same thing on LinkedIn or Facebook, you shouldn’t do that it is to repetitive and it could lose some of your followers due to repeating yourself. Don’t post on Facebook your word for word tweet spice it up change the wording or don’t post it at all. Chances are if they are following you on Facebook they are following you on Twitter. But, if they are not following you on both spicing up your post so it isn’t redundant, will help keep your current followers on both from getting annoyed.

Student

I don't think you should reuse content if your are working for a professional source like CNN, MSNBC or any other news networks. People go to those sources for new information about current events. I think it is okay to reference older content but never reuse. I think it is okay to reuse content for things like fashion or parties and events to keep the audiences aware of what is coming up, but when you are reusing content for those purposes i think it should be repearted on social networks not press releases. 

Student

I think reusing the content can cost a severe punishment when it considers in business society. when contents become a professional use I think reusing a content can consider as plargiarism even if the writer is same. also the interest of the viewer will become low for example when content is used in tv advertisement and also exact same content is used in web as well the viewer gets bored by looking at the same advertisement and the effect of the ad is getting smaller. If I want to reuse my content i probably use same content with different approach for example I would use my content in web and make my content to a song and put it on the tv advertisement it that case I would still have the same content with same meaning for people to understand but with a song that is made out of I could approach to a viewers with different view of the same content

Student

It depends what content you reuse and where you are reusing it. For example, companies spend millions of dollars to shoot a commercial made for tv to air on a certain timeslot on certain channels and they may yield a desire result. However, if they take that same commerical and then put it on the web without changing it for the web then they may lose interest from consumers because the audience on the web is different from the viewers for tv. Same goes for written content you can take your facebook status and reuse it for twitter and your own personal blog and that will be ok because those are social mediums and the content will be fine for the audience on the social network. However, if a professional blogger for ESPN reuses the same blog they wrote for another site then it can cost him a job because it shows laziness, lack of motivation, and it also shows that he doesn't understand his audience because the viewers for one site can be different from the viewers for a different site and therefore different things are expected and permitted. 

Student

I could not agree more that reusing content can only mean bad things for your online pursuits. While the reasons already listed provide ample rationale for making the online experience a unique one, the views I developed about creating online content come from my time as a journalist.

I worked at a small-town newspaper that was in the process of embracing the website as the other necessary arm of the paper. Subscriptions and sales off the rack were trending the way of all other small town paper: down. Our small staff slowly began to realize that, in order to maintain our presence in the community, we would have to put more of an effort into our lowly website. At the time, our website served as the destination for our photos and articles after they were published in the paper. This system of archiving had its uses, but it was far from a worthwile use of the online platform. Thanks to the persuasion of our parent company, we gradually began to expand our web presence. This was accomplished through such uses as:

  • Writing "web exclusive" content only available online
  • Releasing game scores and columns the night of the game rather than waiting till the paper was published the next day
  • Previewing upcoming articles

While we found these steps to be an improvement, it was a difficult undertaking for a small staff that was already responsible for every production step of a daily paper. I learned that creating a valuable web experience for users can't be a secondary priority. It takes a committment that shows users that there traffic is valued and their returns are desired. Our small staff was not equipped with the time or skills to make our website as valuable as we were trying to make our paper. Since I left the paper, it has become much better in its creation of valuable content and I am glad to see it. Creating a valuable web experience is a must for newspapers and any other organization, and achieving this takes more of a committment than reusing content. 

Student

The State of Michigan has a decent website – finally.

The other week in class, Derek went around the room asking for examples of bad websites. I mentioned the State of Michigan and the group let out a collective groan. It seems I’m not the only one who has had issues with the page.

I went to web.archive.org – a good resource for defunct sites – to look up the many versions, and things actually got worse before they got better.

The first incarnation was launched in 2001. It was bad, but it wasn’t that bad. It was too text heavy and the photos were small, but there were some positives. There was a nice photo banner at the top, the site didn’t feel too cluttered, and it was fairly easy to navigate

By the end of the decade (2009), however, it was an unmitigated disaster. The banner had been removed and replaced with a hodge-podge of items, including a Michigan.gov logo and a small photo of former Governor Jennifer Granholm. The photos, already tiny when the site was launched, were now even smaller. There was itty-bitty text everywhere, and very little, if any, white space. The amount of content in such a small space was overwhelming, and made we want to exit immediately. What a mess!

The state apparently realized the design was poor and revamped the site the next year (2010). They brought back the banner, had less text, offered larger section tabs, and more white space. The tweaking has continued and now the site looks pretty good.  Another positive is that it also incorporates other new media – users can connect to the state’s social media sites, sign up to receive an RSS feed, and download a mobile application.

So, how does Michigan.gov compare nationally? Well, I just so happened to check half-a-dozen other state sites, and Michigan actually has one of the better ones. I know – I was surprised, too. :)



 

 

Student

information. repurposed.

INFORMATION, REPURPOSED. IS IT REALLY THAT BAD? 

I think that repurposing content for various media isn't the worst thing in the world to do. In fact, I think repurposing information can be a huge time saver. Just because you may want to post your information to different media doesn't mean that you have to create something new everytime. Rather, people who wish to repurpose materials for their blog should add/delete information as needed to fit content into their blog posts. Some things that work for one blog platform may not work for another and should be handled accordingly. You wouldn't expect to fit a full facebook note into a twitter post would you? I think when information is repurposed, and has been edited for a platform should include a link to the original source. 

For example, the Lansing WLNS site is full of links to articles repuporposed from television. Of course they can't fit full stories on the home page, so the links to the articles describe their content. The more high priority stories get a link and a sentence that describes the article. This allows channel 6 to save space on their site, and repurpose their content for other sites which they do. Channel 6, repurposes their stories on their twitter page. Some of the content on their website didn't make it to the Channel 6 Twitter page. In fact it seems only the Top 6 headlines make it to their twitter page. While this may seem like a downfall because they're purging information, there are links redirecting site users to their site. So either way Channel 6 gets increased users to their site. Especially if the articles are worth reading. Channel 6's Facebook page contains some of the information that you would expect to see on their site or in the news. They go a little bit more in depth with the information they provide than the twitter page, however, they don't give you full details, only teasers. I think they do this to increase both viewership and website traffic. Either way, repurposing information can be used as a means of getting the word out in a more efficient way if you ask me.

Student

Like many others, I think that repurposed content can serve a purpose in certain circumstances, but generally should be avoided.  In a past job, I helped to redesign the website, which we knew going into it would be very text and content heavy (intentionally because of organizational goals).  While new content was being developed, I was instructed to plug in old content, which ended up being more work than it was worth, considering the need for revisions.  But it made me wonder, are we that desperate to fill the white space that we'll put anything in there?  On the other hand, it seems that we have so many opportunities to repurpose content with platforms linked with one another.  Even more obvious are the sharing buttons inviting, nay, encouraging us to pin it, tweet it, blog it, facebook it.  Is this not just another way for us to repurpose someone else's content?  I don't need to come up with any of my own tweets if I just retweet all the time.  But then, who would bother following me?  Originality is appreciated more than ever before because it is that much harder to come by.  But in order to be effective, I can't help but go to the old standby- write for the audience.  Learn about your twitter followers and design your content with them in mind; it can be the same general idea as content from another platform, but customize it for that audience and you can't go wrong.

Student

I think reusing content is fine but expectations should be tempered accordingly. A perfect example of this is from a company I recently interned with. They were just beginning to build their presence on Linkedin and in doing so created a group to target students in their industry. At first as a way to save time they used content they already had available on their website (i.e., job listings, webinars, workshops, press releases). All of it worked to fill blank space but none of it created the type of engagement they were looking for. After researching other successful groups on Linkedin they discovered that if they post job listings with a more personal message students would feel as though they were privy to insider information. The same went for postings with personal messages about webinars and workshops. Students began to sense that someone on the other end was actually listening and offering resources just for them. If your goal in repurposing content is to simply fill white space then I say go for it but if you want to engage with your readers its best to deliver something personal that adds value. 

Student

I think re-using content should only be done when you are stuck as for what to post and need a boost of creativity to get you going again. This strategy should only be used as a last resort because it doesn't particularly further your business and doesn't create new content, which ultimately draws people keep visiting your website. Blog posts should post new and exciting information that visitors are inclined to read rahter than just recycling and re-using what has already been said. Essentially, recycling content doesn't get you ahead, it just keeps your website alive for the time being.

Original content is essential to any successful blog post and web users are coming to your blog to learn something new and to engage in an ongoing conversation. When I come across content that I have already seen before, I am more inclined to not visit that particular website again in the future. To me, fresh content is what makes a successful website and seeing the same thing over and over again is just spam. I don't really see the point of recycling the same old content unless it is done so in an extremely creative and attention-grabbing way and is furthering a topic that needs to be exposed.

I agree with Neilson that print content and web content are different and should remain separate from each other.  When websites are cluttered with huge blocks of texts, they automatically steer people aways because they are overwhelming. I think that simplicity goes a long way, with any website or post. What's worse is when you visit a page with massive amounts of text that is essentially the same information you have seen before. I think that if people are considering re-using old content, they should first ask themselves if it is it really even necessary to make a post at all. It is impossible to keep up with every new post on every website that you might regularly visit, but to me, this is part of the fun of the internet. There is always something new out there. Who wants to spend time reading things that they already know?

Student

I think that reusing content is ok in some instances. For example, using the same status updates on various social media sites can be annoying to some people. If you look at it from a marketer's eye, not everyone who follows the company on Twitter also likes their page on Facebook. If they want to get the same message out to all of their social media friends, using the same status seems like a logical way to do it. It may be repetitive to those who do follow them on Facebook and Twitter, but they can't ignore one of their social media pages just so they don't annoy some people.

As far as websites reusing content, I look at a site I am on regularly, espn.com. The website contains the content from ESPN the Magazine, but it also has daily breaking news in the world of sports. To help fight against people only using the website and not subscribing to the magazine, they offer "insider access" online to all magazine subscribers. This is basically just the ability to view different articles that are for "insiders only". I think it is a great way to get people to use the website and the magazine.

Student

I've actually had some first hand experience with poorly repurposed content. The study I was the community engagement expert for a national study over the past year and was in charge of developing our various social media platforms. I was told to create content and disseminate it to our various audiences. A few of them included physicians, partciipants, stakeholders, community advisors, other study centers, the public, and other healthcare professionals. I was instructed to create postings at least once per week and distribute it however I saw fit (facebook was our main channel but I decided we needed to add further networks).

Individualized content was important to us in one way because we had the same followers on multiple sites. We did not want to give the same content to the same audience multiple times. However, more importantly, we did not want to give the same content to our many different audiences we were targeting. Study updates with heavy scientific information was meant for the stakeholders, engagement and recruitment materials were for potential participants, and retention and giveaway items were for already enrolled women and children. This really forced us to know our audience and know which channels would reach them. If we gave them the information they were looking for they could begin to depend on us and we would retain their participation.

Student

I see no problem with reusing content on mutiple media sources, because depending on the audience you are trying to reach you may need to use different platforms. However, you should also be conscious of the appropriateness of content to each kind of platform. In other words, content you are trying to share should fit in the space and match the purpose of the platform in which you are presenting it. For example, if you wish to share an information that is lengthy in print form, you should not simply copy and paste the same information to every social network you are subscribed to, but rather pick a few different networks that you are sure don't share a lot of the same user and just post a catchy headline with a link to the full information and let your readers decide if they want to engage. There is no doubt that it is harder to reach an audence that has become so segmented today, but you also have to remember that consumers today also like choices and get annoyed by forced messages.

Student

I am an intern for the Michigan Fitness Foundation's communications department. As we have many annual events, the communications is often struggling with whether we should reuse content or "reinvent the wheel." In my experience - there are phrases that are particular catchy that could be used as a unifying theme across all media platforms. But, I generally agree that media/marketing content should be rewritten and with a purpose. When writing, whether it is an email, a disseratation, and everything in between, there should be a goal for the writing in mind. A press release is more to inform in my job, whereas a tweet or status update is more to highlight or raise an awareness. I think there are also different audiences that are reached with this writing, and a good writer always writes for their audience - not for themselves. I think re-using is more for time saving on the behalf of the writer and less about meeting the needs of the audience or satisfying the goals of the individual, company, or organization.

Student

In some cases, repurposed content can be a bad thing. This is one organization that I followed on facebook, twitter and their web blast newsletter. After a while, I noticed that the same information that was in the email newsletter was being tweeted and posted on facebook multiple times. With the same information on the two social newtorks and the email blasts, I followed them on the social networks because I was already getting that info in the newsletter. If an organization is going to use multiple platforms then its important to put out different information. Like sharing a link to the newletter on facebook and making reference tweets on twitter. I think the only time repurpose content should be use is the esstential information. For example, I follow a skincare blog and the author reposts her most popular post on hyperpigmentation because its important to new readers. 

Student

I really don't see the problem with reusing content, as long as it continues to be effective. If what you wrote before still works, go ahead and use it again. Of course, if it doesn't still work, then it's a different story. While it may be irritating to some people when they read the same thing more than once, it doesn't mean its wrong for the writer to do so. I say, for the most part, try to come up with new material, or a new way to say it, but if you have to fall back on something that you already wrote, and reuse it, there's no problem with me about it.

I do agree with the people who argue about status updates being different. I would never update my LinkedIn profile the same way that I update Twitter. LinkedIn is a professional platform, and admittedly, most of my tweets are way too inappropriate to ever be on there. I will admit to having my Twitter linked to my Facebook account, but its not for every tweet. I can choose which ones go to Facebook by using #fb at the end of the tweet, and I usually only send over funny things that I come up with that I want more people to see.

Overall, reusing information is OK in my book, just be careful about which information you are using, and where it's going to be seen.

Student

There are some cases where reusing content can be a good thing, but most of the time I think it should be new content.  I did not think this was an issue until your post and then I started looking at some local news websites.  On my hometown's (Troy, MI) local news website I thought it was put together very well.  It did not seem too text heavy and there were main headlines with small intros to the articles then you could click the link to read more.  It was not overwhelming and I liked how the site was set up.  Other websites were overwhelming and showed videos to the news story, which I thought was repetitive and frustrating that they were just reusing what they had shown on the daily news.  I also think it is repetitive for the news or a company to make the same update on Linkedin as they would on Facebook/Twitter.  The audiences are most likely different on each website and I agree with you when you say the content should be different as well.  Overall, I think that if a website decides to reuse content they should do it sparingly and be careful with what they choose to reuse.  The website should also be conscious of the text on their websites and how they are using their content.

Student

I think out of all the websites I've seen this is the worst one when it comes to reusing content: http://www.f1racing.co.uk. They reuse the content from their magazine, and that's making the website look really bad. It's clear that if they had a real strategy for web, they would have done this differently, because this content looks really awkward and unappealing. 

Student

It is very hard to read a huge wall of text while browsing online. Most of the time I'll stay away from long drawn out walls of text unless it is extremely well written and engaging. I think most people are scared off by long reads online. Most people online are looking for instant gratification and entertainment and will leave if they dont get it. There arent many people I know that enjoy reading online. I think most people would much rather read from a hard copy than strain their eyes staring at a bright computer screen. That being said, information distributed online has to be organized to cater to these potential viewers. The message must be concise and engaging from the start.  

Student

Like some of my classmates, reusing content online was not something I was ever overly concerned about. However, after reading this blog post, I visited a few local news websites with this topic in mind. I was slightly surprised with what I found on one local news website from my hometown in Wisconsin. I expected to find short, “news-blurb” styled articles and a predominately text-heavy presentation of the news; instead, I found this local news station offering its online viewers the option to watch the video from the original broadcast or read a written news article – which was not a written transcript of the original broadcast - of any specific news story. I truly felt like this local news station was properly reusing content because the content was altered and formatted to transcend more than one medium.

 That being said, I do think there are plenty of instances where reusing content is not as appropriate or seamlessly executed. The online audience has high expectations for website content and are often looking for several different resources with different information, so reusing exact content may not be the most effective use of time. The many formats in which online content can be used, including company websites, social media, blogs, and many others, often require different communication strategies, and marketers should think twice about how they are reusing content online and if the content should even be reused at all.

 

 

Student

In my experience, it's never a good idea to repurpose print media online.

My first reason for believing this is that at many times, material doesn't translate from print to online platforms all that well. The first problem I typically notice when this occurs is that a website has way too much text on the homepage. When this happens, I tend to lose interest in the information the site has to offer, because I simply can't find what I was looking for easily enough. An example of what I'm talking about can be seen on http://www.wilx.com/, the homepage for WILX, a Lansing news and weather station. Looking at this page, there's just text everywhere. There doesn't even seem to be a real reason for the way the text is placed the way it is, it's like it's just thrown all over the page haphazardly. This makes the website hard to read, and as a result, I go to other sources to get my local news. 

Another reason I think that a website shouldn't just be repurposed online is that I believe variety is important. Seeing the same exact media campaign in print, online, on television, etc, gets real old real fast. However, if I see different things with a consistent message, I'm intrigued. Interest is so important this day and age thanks to all of the visual stimuli a person is exposed to in a day. If information can't catch and maintain someone's attention nowadays, it's not going anywhere fast. This is why originality is so important.

Instructor

Should you use the exact same content for print and on the web? Absolutely not.

As Nielsen points out in his 2008 post on writing for the web vs. writing for print media, readers have fundamentally different expectations of print and online media. In print, the reader expects the author to lead him/her along a thought or idea – "constructing their experience" as Nielsen puts it.

Online media is a different beast. Readers expect to be able to "choose their own adventure" and to support whatever it is the user is interested in learning more about at the moment. If a site doesn't have what a visitor is looking for immediately, he or she will leave. The same kind of witty headlines that work so well in print don't online, as online readers are searching for information quickly and will leave if they can't find it (hence the important of information dense headlines).

I saw this dynamic first-hand working in the governor's office, where most materials we issued were identical for print and online use (with very few outbound links and external resources people could visit to learn more). I started to generate more original content personally so we'd have better items to share on social media, like this blog post I authored in 2010 for the Huffington Post. While it still could be improved on (the headline could be much more informative and the paragraphs could be less dense), providing external links where viewers could "construct their own experience" really helped this piece work better online than some of the press releases our office issued that contained similar messaging. 

Nielsen's AlertBox e-newsletter is an absolute must-subscribe for anyone working in digital media

Student

Reusing content is perfectly acceptable. For example, if you're a medical manufacturing company, there is nothing wrong with "duplicating company brochures" right there on your website. The content you're giving is going to be straightforward and relatively black and white.

On the other hand, there are times when reusing content from one social media medium to another is pretty repetitive and sometimes doesn't make sense. For example, sometimes companies will link their Facebook pages with their Twitter pages there is a conflict. Twitter has a rather short character limit, and when trying to translate a Facebook post into Twitter, it will not fit. To solve this issue, they cut the post off and incorporate a short link to lead you to their Facebook post. The problem with this is that 9 times out of 10, the message makes no sense and the whole point is cut off due to the shortened post. 

All in all, I'd have to say that while repeating content is appropriate in some cases, there are many times where the message should be altered to fit the current social media or web medium.  

Student

Yes, I would say that as an audience, reused contents do make me unhappy when I read them several times. For example, I follow a lot of people on Twitter, and many of them will retwitte a same message. When I first read the message, it was a lot of fun and I really like it. But when I come across it twice or the third time, I feel it is really annoying. Maybe it is not about reuse the content, but my point is that an excellent content can be annoying when it shows up too many times. When it comes to the news, the problem of reusing content is more serious. The news is just about information, and we pay money or attention just for the content. When I buy a newspaper to konw some information, and when I check the its website to search for more information, but only find that they are same with reports in the newspaper. I feel that it just waste my money and my time. I think writers should be responsible to generate more information instead of reusing same content.  

Student

I agree with many of the posts before mine, repurposing content depends largely on the situation. An example of repurposing content can be found on the websites of many local news stations. In this case, repurposing content can be viewed as both effective and ineffective, depending on the situation. If the story is a major broadcast, and the main story being shared on the news, I think it would make sense for a website to repurpose the content in order to get all the facts across and eliminate confusion. Many people who view news websites do so because they aren't around to watch the actual broadcast. With that being said, I also think there are some stories that it would not make sense to repurpose. For example, if there is a smaller story, a sports update, or even the weather forecast, there is no need to repurpose everything that has already been said. Again, because people checking news websites generally don't have the time to watch the actual broadcast, they most likely don't want to dig through a full page story on the Tigers game just to figure out who won.

Also, I think that repurposing content to various social media sites is ineffective and shouldn't be done. A story being posted to Twitter should be perhaps only the title of the story, with a link to the article if necessary. Facebook gives you more room to expand, and you can include the main ideas of the story to give readers more information. I know I personally don't like seeing companies repurpose content to both Facebook and Twitter because it gives the same idea of a general email blast: unpersonal and ineffective.

Student

When I'm online, there are a lot of things that catch my eye that I may want to read more about. When I click the link to go there and I see an entire page of text, more times than not, I'll close it immediately. Especially when staring at a computer screen, I don't want to spend a lot of time reading about one thing. Online resources, unless you are looking for detailed information, should get to the point quickly and have a visual component to them. Longer blocks of text are much more acceptable in a magazine or newspaper, where if I'm reading them in the first place, I probably have a bit more time on my hands. So I'd have to agree that when reusing content, it probably isn't the best idea to just copy and paste. I think ideas, themes, quotes, etc, however, could be easily reused.

Student

The idea of reusing content has never been a large concern to me. The only reason I say this is because when I see people reusing content on their website, it is always a link back to the article from the original publisher on their website. As long as people are reusing my content as just a link to my website I do not think it is a big deal. I would still be generating large volumes of traffic and I would be able to tap into unrecognized markets. For instance, one of my favorite websites always has content re used from other sources. But it is always a link back to the original publication.

Even when magazines reuse content across multiple mediums I am never too upset. Men’s Health, for instance, does a great job of this. In their magazine they have the same articles every month that they use on their apps. It’s what they do differently across the two mediums that make them both uniquely great. The app has videos, slideshows, and more user friendly content that I can save and access while I’m at the gym or in the kitchen. The magazine still gives you that old school feel of holding what you are reading, with great advertisements, pages of recipes and workouts. All work to benefit the end user. Am I going to be upset that I bought the app and the magazine only to have the same articles? Never.  Because if I buy the magazine it’s because I want the magazine and what the magazine gives me, if I buy the app it’s because I wanted something from the app. As long as the content and how the content is delivered is unique across different mediums, the consumer should not feel slighted.

Student

I never really thought about repurposed content being used with different media outlets but now that it bought to my attentin it does make sense. I can understand why people would see this as an effective way to broadcast different information but continuing using the same content over and over gets old and too repeative. Its so much clutter and repeativeness on the internet that thier should be some type of restirction, I've came across lots content on the web that is simply too much and basically boring talking about lots of different things but it simply too much when it could be kept short and simple. Its pointless to go on and on and its just a bunch or words instead of actually content being explained! I think one of the reason Im not really into facebook as much as I use to be is becuase yea its changing, but the changes being made its just too much and changes that didnt really need to be made. It's the same thing just more difficult and its a lot of spam as well. Their trying to make changes but its really the same stuff with more difficulty, my personal opinon! Story lines that dont seem to change much I feel its really no need to repurpose them becuase its just gonna be the same thing each time!

Student

After taking several journalism classes at MSU, all of these things were brought to my attention. The internet today is definetly shaping our ways of writing and reporting. I have had some experiences where there is a lot of text and not enough explination, even in my own work. (which I'm trying to get better at) I've noticed that if you have too much black and white, the story will become less interesting, and readers will not be likely to read the full story. Thats what I want to expand on. A lot of stories I read online bore me. They are filled with crap, and not facts. For example, this article, is short and to the point where the reader gets all the information in a perfect amount of words. On the flip side, articles like this, are very text heavy, have a poor title, and definetly loses my interest after the first sentence. Now a days I think that its important for stories to be short and sweet. 

Student

This is a really common thing. I've had so many experiences (especially with local news) where I went to the internet for more information, and all I could really access was the same exact story online. In some cases I've had to skim through stories that read more like dialogue. Then I realize- Duh, it was originally a broadcast news story translated for the web.

It's an irritating thing to deal with as a consumer of the media, but I can also imagine it's tedious for the writer to have to write stuff over and over again. At work I'm supposed to write out individual emails for each person, but I'll be the first to admit it is absolutely dreadful to do. My solution? One mass email with a painfully generalized message that I'm pretty sure no one is going to read anyway. This leaves me with plenty of extra time for me to work on homework (which was exactly the scenario on this post) instead of wasting time re-writing emails over and over.