If You Love Your Content, Set It Free

Is that Sting song in your head now?

"Free, free. Set them free."

"If you loooove someone—SET THEM FREE!"

Thank you, Gordon Sumner (Sting's real name - let's just take it all the way).

I'm singing this in my head because of some funny conversations I've had about social media this week. It seems so weird to still have to get into the "yes, but you really want them to take your stuff and reuse it" conversation, but there you have it.

Nonprofits especially seem to get all tomcat territorial over their posts and content. I don't understand it. With acquisition being so difficult these days, their social networks are where they should be building the back and forth, warm and fuzzy goodness that will nurture those folks toward the next step: making a gift, volunteering, sharing posts, etc.

For my nonprofit brethren, this is for you.

1. Why Are You Using Social if You're Not Feeling Social?
The purpose of Facebook, Twitter, et al is to share, share, share. If you're not comfy with people taking your stuff - or bits of your stuff - and sharing it with the world, you need to consider why you're using this particular medium.

2. There Are Nice Ways to Get What You Want.
If it's super important to you that excerpts or blurbs are credited when retweeted or shared, say so — and make it easy. Ask them to link back to your site. Provide them with the text to use. Just be friendly and not finger waggy. Trust that people will do what you have respectfully requested. If they don't, they're still sharing your content and that's the name of the game. (Set It Free)

3. It's A Conversation with Real People - Not a Press Release Cannon.
It must bear repeating, y'all, cause I repeat it all the time. If you're in the fortunate position of having your donors and supporters take pride and ownership in your mission and want to spread it across the land in their own words to their people, you won. Don't quibble over the fact that they didn't quote your beloved mission statement exactly or edited your 500 word press release to one sentence. Be glad they care enough to read, engage with and distribute your goodies.