Guilty by Association – Are you mindlessly sharing content you haven’t even read?

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Written By Jim Butcher

The Copy Collective’s Jim Butcher lifts the lid on lazy sharing that could cost you ‘Likes’…

Isn’t it annoying when your personal Facebook or Google+ newsfeed gets chock full of mindless junk?I’m not just talking about your cousin rejoicing in their latest Farmville conquest or your mate inviting you into the terrifying world of Candy Crush Saga. I mean the stuff companies whose Facebook pages you’ve liked, start sharing things with you that they think you’ll find “interesting”.
It’s the result of firms sharing content to improve and maintain their social media presencebut not really thinking about the quality of their newsfeed.
One poorly chosen shared article from them and ‘click’ they’ve lost a reader and a potential customer. It’s something you should be very conscious of when sharing content with your readers too.Too often people share content that they think is what their readers want to know about, but they haven’t even read the article.
To prove the point, National Public Radio (NPR) published this brilliant prank post on Facebook about why Americans don’t read anymore. 
After the headline and title image, a quick message asks all people who have read thus far to simply like the post and not comment and see what happens.
The comments that follow are well worth a read and just goes to show people really aren’t paying attention to what they’re interacting with online.
To make sure you’re sharing the right content, here’s a quick checklist of other important criteria to consider each time you share something with your readers online:

  • Does the hyperlink work? One of the most frustrating moments is when the lead-in to a piece has done its job but when you go to click through, the link doesn’t work.
  • How old is the article? Even if the content you’re sharing is evergreen, make sure it’s not too old. Anything more than a year old loses traction. If it’s a stats-based piece, it cannot be more than six months old.
  •  Is the article any good? Make sure it’s well written and interesting. Check it’s not full of bad spelling, poor punctuation or grammar.
  • Is the article correct? Don’t share the article if it’s wrong, controversial or – even worse – off-brand.
  • What does it offer your readers? Your readers will want to take something away with them from the article. Make sure what you share provides this.
  • Would you follow you? Think about this as you share more and more to your curated content portfolio. People are likely to look back at what you’ve shared in the past.
  • Remember, people trust your shares. Sharing poor quality content can adversely affect their trust and, therefore, your traffic.

As founder of ProBlogger – a publishing and information resource company – Darren Rouse says: “in the midst of the strategy and tactics, don’t lose sight of the people on the other side of your content.”