It isn’t so much because I don’t believe that the views are their own, but rather the subtlety by which they are saying that they are excusing their respective organization from anything stupid they may say or do. The problem is the world doesn’t work that way. What you do outside of work or on social platforms ultimately are a reflection on all of the communities in which you participate; your workplace being one of them.
It is with this I have long stood by the motto that I will judge (subconsciously of course) your various affiliations by the matter in which you tweet, share, or blog. It may not be fair, but it is life. Those that say they don’t are probably lying to you or themselves. So if you go out and make a fool of yourself on your own time and you later lose your job for it, I won’t feel bad for you.
So when you are sharing online, caution should be drawn because whether you like it or not your stakeholders are being judged by your actions.
With this in mind we should curate and share carefully, because everything we say leaves a footprint in the sands of time.
Well, I have a confession to make.
I don’t read everything I share. I read a lot of it, I skim some of it, and sometimes I just pass it along.
Now before you judge me, hold on. I can’t be the only sane person in the world that does this. With the amount of content that goes out on the interwebs and the gross number of shares that certain sites get, I have a hard time believing that everyone reads every single article. (I think somewhere I can actually hear the silent gasp of a social media purist dropping their jaw right now in disbelief.) But that is okay . I have a plan, and I have purpose. So I share with that in mind.
However, we have come to a bit of a crossroads here. With so much content and so many communities, how do we decide what to share? Further, how should we appropriately explain the demarcation between sharing content and that of a public endorsement.
Sharing is Caring
As we have all built up what has become our social communities we have set some expectations as to how we engage and share. Some of us are more conversational and chatty while others are much more content based. In some cases this pendulem swings depending on work volume, time of day/year, or just the ever changing commitments that we have.
In my experience I have built a tight knit community around subjects such as leadership, marketing, and technology and there is a tremendous amount of reciprocity built. I have hundreds of members in my triberr community as well as many others whom I reciprocate via guest blogs or other sharing mechanisms.
For the most part they all write good content and I have no issue sharing it within my communities. Having said that, I don’t in all cases agree with the content and in some cases I don’t agree at all. So that is where the question comes into play.
Sharing…But Is it an Endorsement?
If what I said above is true and we are all judged based upon the actions we take then a share could be misconstrued for an endorsement.
Why in the world would anyone share something that they don’t like or agree with.
Truth be told the majority of what I share I at least agree with for intent. Some of it I think is interesting, provocative, or different and worth reading. Some portion of it I tend to disagree with but still think it is worth a read.
So for me I don’t necessarily endorse everything that I share, however am I responsible to point that out? So if I share something whether marketing focused or politically charged does that mean I side with the article whether I agree or not?
Does the tweeting of a Huffington Post article make me a liberal? Does the LinkedIn share of a Fox News report make me a staunch conservative?
Personally it just means it is interesting or it is content from someone that I respect. Generally speaking it is only an endorsement if I say specifically that I agree.
Sharing…On The Other Hand
So why does it have to specifically be called out as an endorsement before it counts? I mean after all I don’t specifically not endorse everything else.
The fact is there is always to sides of the coin so we can’t neglect the fact that sometimes we will be unfairly associated with the content we share. So keep that in mind when making the decision on the content that you curate.
An Endorsement? So Is It or Isn’t It?
Unfortunately like so many things in life, the answer here isn’t going to be black and white. It is going to come with shades of grey. The fact is with so many eyeballs on everything we do these days we will be constantly judged. So the more important question is do you know whom you are trying to make the best impression for?
For instance, if you are a business owner and you work for yourself (and your customers of course) you may not be opposed to sharing a lot of diverse content with a small risk of offending someone along the way. However if you have a high profile corporate job you may want to be very careful what you put into the social sphere and where your content comes from.
The other big focus should be on your community. I have long heard an expression that you cannot fly with the eagles if you are hanging with the turkey’s. I suggest thinking of your community in a similar way.
If the majority of the people whom you share with/for are people of high moral standards and they put out a good product you can generally be sure that sharing their content comes with low risk. Also if the source is known for good content then you are generally safe as well. I find articles from Mashable, TechCrunch, and Harvard for instance to generally be pretty safe. The problems with only sharing from those sites is that you and every other person that knows how to tweet shares that content.
Of course the only way to be 100% certain to never offend or risk your reputation is to curate everything thoroughly. Read the post, check the links, and then add your input when sharing to make sure you safely and effectively present your view.
If I had the time to do so I would, the problem is I would be lucky to share 2 things a day which would probably not make me all that interesting to follow or engage.
I wonder if anyone will share this without reading? I wish there was an app for that!
Nevertheless, share carefully my friends…
A version of this post originally could be found on Millennial CEO. It can be accessed here.