Include TalkSocial intro blurb with line break after: This was a topic discussed on Talk Social With Wahine Media, a weekly radio segment on The Matt DiGeronimo Show. Listen to the podcast replay here.

I saw it on the Internet! It must be true, right?

Well, not exactly—and I’m sure we’ve all witnessed some laughable un-truths online. Joking aside, with the recent trending news on social media, it brings to mind a subject businesses need to keep in mind when sharing from outside sources. It’s easy to overlook the fact that a LOT of what you read on the Internet—and more so on social networks—is not credible, but more importantly, just not true.  

I’m sure you know by now—and I’m sure you’re sick of our use of the word, engagement—that a large part of successfully managing an online community is joining relevant conversations and sharing expertise, opinions, or news from outside sources. Businesses in particular should be highly sensitive to what these sources are, and sharing should never be a free-for-all.

Does your business have guidelines to vet the sources you’re sharing from?

While there are no formal guidelines on how to navigate these uncharted territories, we’d like to provide you with a few tips on what we’ve seen as best practices in leading communities on social media—things to consider when sharing content from outside sources.

When sharing breaking news, be aware that many personal profiles will be sharing this news as well, and often times—perhaps unknowingly—citizen journalism can loose the facts in translation. This brings to mind a recent case where a friend of mine said she saw a popular post from a friend of hers that stated a company was only being fined $X Million dollars for an environmental catastrophe they had caused—when the real fact was that they were being fined $X Million dollars per day for the incident. Try to share news from a credible news source or reporter covering the story. If they turn out to be wrong at least it’s not on you.

Be aware that Facebook comments and Twitter conversations are mostly personal opinion. Opinion is great, and self-expression is what motivates many of us to use the platforms. But as a brand you need to tread lightly when joining a hot topic conversation, or sharing a post that evokes them. A share from a post with some “questionable” comments may be perceived as an endorsement from your community, even if that wasn’t the original intention.

Blogs are one of the best resources to share expert advice. And if you strategically share the most credible sources, your influence in that industry can be elevated. When sharing blog articles be sure to scrutinize the author heavily. Do they contribute to other or popular blogs? What have they written about in the past? Does their social profile reflect the advice they offer? And here’s the big one—does their philosophy align with your brand? Or are you sharing to point out what you do NOT stand for?

Bottom line? Hands down, outside content is your friend, and sharing is the backbone of community building so embrace it—with some guidelines in place.

We want to know! What would you add to this list of guidelines? How do you determine credible content sources?