Don't Share Your Competitor's Content!

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One of the ways we devise blog post topics for our clients is that we look at the blogs of their competitors to find things that they've written that we haven't. By simply taking a title, topic, or keyword, we then write our own article for a client. It was through this routine process the other day that we came across an illuminating reason of why you ought to create your own content, instead of just sharing and curating what others create.

While looking through competitor's blog, we found a post that had a video in it. We noticed that in the video screenshot was a man that looked a lot like our client. Curious, we watched the video. Sure enough, it was our client! Not only did this competitor post a video that showcased his competitor, the video was an interview with our client about the service that the both of them offer. The competitor was never featured in the two and half-minute piece! Way to fail at brand awareness and promoting your business as the industry thought leader, especially when our client's name and company are shown at the bottom of the screen throughout the interview.

This is akin to Coca-Cola promoting a video on the benefits of drinking soda on its blog and on social media, only for the video to be an interview with the CEO of Pepsi talking about the benefits of drinking soda. This example shows a major flaw in only sharing the content of others: you're attaching your thoughts and talking points to someone else's words instead of taking the time to put them into your own words and to add your own perspective. It's one thing to share something done by a non-partial industry expert (such as one from an industry association), or by a vendor, or by a company you've partnered with. It's certainly another to share an interview or news story that features your competitor as the primary source and expert on the issue.

Why This Hurts

There are four reasons why a situation like this is a disaster for one's content marketing or inbound marketing strategy:

  1. If the point was to position the company as an industry thought leader, then this completely failed as it showed our client as the industry thought leader. This is especially true since the video never ever feature the company the wrote the blog post and the blog post didn't elaborate on what the company could add to what our client said.
  2. Since the client and the competitor are in an industry that's fairly new, and one that hasn't yet caught on with content marketing and inbound marketing. Therefore, there's not a whole lot of content in this space, making the sharing of your competitor's content a bit more egregious.
  3. The blog post was published in June 2011, meaning that this video has been on their site for 18 months! Either the competitor didn't notice that the video featured its competitor, or the competitor doesn't engage in enough content marketing to spend time creating its own content or finding pieces that are more appropriate to share.
  4. The video has Part II, an additional minute and a half with our client further discussing the service and its benefits. This video also has the interviewer introducing our client by his name and company. How did they miss that one?

What about the 50/50 Rule?

The 50/50 rule is still a great rule, but we make it a point not to share content from our clients' competitors on their networks. We would think that's an obvious point, but apparently it's something that needs to be highlighted again. When finding content to share on your blog, your social networks, or in your email newsletters, try to avoid sharing what your competitor has created or things that primarily feature your competitor.

If you're curious, here's the link to the blog post we found, and below if the video of our client, created back in 2009 (before he was ever our client):