Where Did You Hear That? A Short Guide to Content Citation

Marketers love to share. The concept is confusing for those outside the industry, as, often, the kinds of details that marketers regularly share could be considered trade secrets in other industries.

I would argue it’s part of what makes the industry so successful. In this system, content creators can use the content of others to bolster their own ideas and authority.

But what makes the Internet and content marketing so great is also what makes things tricky for content marketers. You found this amazing idea in an article and you want to use it as a launching point for a blog post of your very own. Or you had an idea and you want to back it up with some statistics.

Hold your horses there, cowboy. Before you go claiming all these ideas as your own, you need to step back and make sure you give credit where it’s due. That’s where this post comes in. No idea is entirely original and you’ll only gain credibility by citing your sources properly. This post will help you cite everyone and everything with ease.

Within Blog Posts and Other Longer Form Content

Say you started a blog post because you were reading something in the news or you were reading someone’s blog post and an idea just jumped at you. It’s in good taste to reference that. Not only are the links helpful for the aforementioned page’s SEO, but it’s courteous.

Sometimes, you won’t remember where you got something and that’s okay too. But if you do write it out like this. If you’re newsjacking, then you must reference the original article. It won’t take you long and it’s definitely worth it. It’s also a nice convenience for your reader to read the same material you did while you were creating your post.

Direct Quote
When you are quoting someone directly, it is critical to not only say that they said it but to hyperlink the person’s name, provide the organization they are linked to, and mention where they originally said the quote you used. Some places say that you should hyperlink their Twitter handle if they have one as a courtesy.

When you use a statistic that someone else made, be sure to mention the company that did the research and link the study in the same sentence as the statistic you are using. You don’t need to hyperlink multiple times if you are using multiple statistics from the same study. But if you are using multiple studies, make sure to differentiate accordingly.

Images have the potential to really get you in trouble if you aren’t getting them from the correct sources. If you bought your images off a stock website, then you generally don’t need to source them, but it’s still a good idea to check the terms on the image you bought. While you may not want to buy every image you feature on your website, it’s often safer than using Creative Commons (like many marketers do). The reason is that the filters for this on Google may be misleading and while the person who posted the picture might have permission to share it, you do not.

In this article on citations, from HubSpot, they recommend these sources for free stock photos:

Social Media

Social media led to social marketing and luckily it’s very easy to give credit where it’s due on these platforms that are designed for sharing.

If you are retweeting someone else’s content via a tweet they posted, they are already credited in it. If you choose to quote the person instead of retweeting directly, then make sure to leave the original username on it. If you modify the original tweet, be sure to change “RT” to “MT” indicating that you modified the original tweet.

If you are tweeting a piece of content whose author is not present on Twitter (professionally or at all) then see if their company is and tag them that way. It’s better to over tag than to not tag at all.

Facebook is pretty similar. If you share directly from the person or organization’s page the post will automatically come with “via _____” and tag whoever you shared it from. If the content wasn’t originally shared on Facebook but the company it’s from has a page, tag them in your own post. If they don’t, simply mention the company, after all, you are using a link so they get the attribution anyways.

Of course, there is LinkedIn. If someone shared the post directly on their LinkedIn page, I would recommend linking to it there before anywhere else. If you are sharing a piece of content from a person or company on LinkedIn, I would recommend tagging both if you can in your share.

Citing your sources is easy and helps your brand cultivate relationships. Not only will it bother people if you are passing off their work/words as your own but it could also land you in hot water if they decide to get the law involved. Nobody wants that. Instead of making enemies by sharing your fellow marketers’ content without credit, make friends, and attribute appropriately.


Let us know what you think: 

  • Have you ever had anyone get testy over your use of their idea/quote or otherwise? 
  • How did you resolve it?


Related Posts

Leave a comment

Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.