At the moment, there’s been an important discussion within our industry about whether it’s appropriate to share another designer’s work on Instagram. This is a topic that’s key to address—especially because Instagram is one of the most effective platforms for interior designers to invest their time and resources. That being said, we’re often asked for our specific take on social media etiquette. Here’s where we land: while sharing another designer’s work is definitely an acceptable form of social media content, there are several non-negotiable ground rules to follow.
In today’s post, we’re going to cover why proper image sharing is overwhelmingly beneficial to the design community, with practical tips to repost responsibly. Let’s brush up on our Instagram etiquette for interior designers, including dos and don’ts to guide your posts.
As small business owners and makers, we are constantly searching for and sharing inspiration, but it’s important that we do our due diligence to cite sources properly. It’s proper Instagram etiquette and the best way to be a responsible member of the online creative community. So why do we believe sharing another designer’s work with proper credit is acceptable? Several reasons. First, when a new designer is working to build up their portfolio, incorporating well-curated regrams helps showcase a strong visual aesthetic to potential clients while also establishing a signature style. This is an essential element of attracting dream clients, especially for designers who aren’t yet booking projects that align with their goals.
Second, we believe responsibly sharing one another’s work can be a form of mutual support among those within the design community. Any time an account (especially a larger account) chooses to regram a fellow designer, they’re helping that designer grow and gain exposure with free access to their online audience. Growth in your Instagram audience often equals growth in your business. When done well, sharing another designer’s work can be for a win for everyone involved.
Okay, now that we’ve covered the “why” behind regrams, let’s talk about the ground rules.
This should go without saying, but in case it doesn’t—always, always credit the source. Even if they’re your competitor, give credit. Even if no one else is crediting the original poster, give credit. Even if it takes some time and effort, give credit. If there are multiple sources (designer, builder, photographer, artist), give credit to as many as you possibly can. Even if you’ve been given permission to repost, give credit. Social media is one of the only places where plagiarism isn’t strictly punished, but that doesn’t make it okay. Sharing others’ work without tagging them is lazy and reflects poorly on your account.
It’s worth noting that crediting etiquette also applies to Instagram Stories. No matter how casual posting to Stories may feel, it’s so important to give credit where credit is due. Whenever you’re sharing someone’s image to Stories, make sure you are typing out their full handle so it notifies them, too.
Tag in the Image + Caption
We recommend tagging sources in both the image and in the caption. This is dual purpose. First, it’s a conscientious move to cover all your bases and let your following know where the original content came from. Second, this ensures that your repost will be seen by the original account which is also great exposure for you!
PRO TIP: If you find yourself on the other side of an Instagram faux-pas, remember it doesn’t cost you anything to be kind. Community over competition, right? Leave a friendly, but a straightforward comment like “Thanks so much for sharing my [insert photo content here]! I’m so glad you like it!” If they don’t correct their error, follow up with a DM. We like to send something like: “Hey there! Thanks so much for sharing my [insert photo content here]. Would you mind please crediting me as the source by tagging me in the caption and photo? I so appreciate the share!”
Do the same if you were tagged, but your photographer or another important source wasn’t. Most people will be happy to correct their mistake.
If you aren’t sure whether you should repost a photo from an account, ask for their permission first. Photographers, especially, make a living from the use of their photos by brands and shops. Don’t assume that their shots are free for the taking. If you’ve been tagged in a photo or your specific hashtag has been used, you can usually assume that sharing is okay, but it never hurts to go the extra step and ask. This kind of thoughtfulness creates respectful relationships on and off the app.
Pinterest is not a stock photo source. This is the Instagram rule we see broken most often. Pinterest is an invaluable resource for inspiration, but tagging sources is a non-negotiable. For many images, you’ll be able to locate the source just by clicking through to the linked site. And, no tagging @Pinterest will not cut it. If the image is not linked, try reverse-searching the image on Google. Just go to images.google.com and paste the image URL into the search bar or drag and drop it from another window. If the image is located elsewhere on the internet, you should be able to track down the original source. If not, just re-pin the image and carry on. There are plenty of images you can repost with proper credit.
Good news! You can now reverse image search from your phone, too. It’s a little more complicated, but a desktop isn’t always handy. Here’s the tutorial.
If your reposted content doesn’t flow with your other photos, just skip it. Editing or applying filters to someone else’s original photo is an insult. Repost it as-is or find something that fits more cohesively with your other content.
It’s easy to assume that a mock-up or a well-curated flat lay or shelfie is a widely-distributed stock photo. This is why it’s important to know the source. If the image belongs to a competitor—that they fronted time, effort, and money for—it’s not a good look, and it’s not good for any connections within the design community that you’re hoping to form.
Don’t Rely Too Heavily on Reposted Content
If you never publish any original content, you might find your follower account eventually dropping. Regramming in moderation is fine, but the primary value of your account will come from your own thoughts and ideas. While there’s no specific formula, we recommend up to two regram posts per week, MAX. Here’s to originality!
BONUS: Instagram Etiquette for Commenting
The amazing Jenny Komenda started a discussion about commenting best practices and Instagram etiquette from the reader’s perspective. In the same vein as crediting and reposting, we should always lead with kindness when engaging others in our Instagram community. Check out her story highlights titled ‘Etiquette’ for good rules of thumb to remember when you are commenting or messaging a poster. It’s a must-read and highlights key points like Tone, Triggering Phrases, Direct Messages, Off-Limit Topics, and when to Unfollow or Mute.
If you’re ready to learn more strategies around using Instagram to level up your business, we’ve created an entire course called Instagram for Designers that’s a part our Studio Sessions collection. We can’t wait to see you there!
Looking to browse around the blog? Here are a few more posts you might love:
IDCO Studio is a full-service creative studio for interior designers and boutique lifestyle brands. Offering bespoke branding, web design and social media content creation, we help brands built around beautiful living elevate their digital presence to represent the physical spaces they design. Our recently launched limited-release website templates are the perfect way for interior designers to get a luxury website on a budget. These templates allow designers to maintain control of their content. Want to work together? Shoot us an inquiry here.