Yep, you’re right. Pablo Picasso said it. And it still applies today. Even in the realm of word of mouth marketing.
We’ve seen it happen. A corporate giant wants their “own” Facebook. Or MySpace. Or whatever the flavor of the month is. And so they copy it, trying to emulate some successful online community or face-to-face word of mouth tool. But then it fails. Big time. And they scratch their heads and abandon any non-traditional efforts claiming that they just don’t work.
So what’s the difference between copying and stealing? When you copy, you’re trying to be like something or someone else. When you steal, you make it your own. Did you hear that? You make it your own. And when you make something your own, it becomes part of who you are. You internalize it.
We’ve seen this happen, too. And many times, the program that is “stolen” is improved upon because the company owns it. It becomes part of their DNA. It’s much more than a tactic or a means to an end. It becomes a part of the very brand.
So before you decide to copy whatever social community tools are hot this month, first take a look inside and make sure you’re ready to own it. If it’s right for you and you can improve on it then steal away. You might just create the next thing everyone else will try to copy.