In one of our previous blog posts, we outlined the reasons why Instagram is the best and most effective platform for interior designers to invest their time and resources. We also touched briefly on the downside of the social media app: accounts that copy or pass off work/images as their own. If you’re consistently putting out your own content on Instagram, you’ve likely stumbled upon your own work or image only to find that you weren’t given any credit and that your intellectual property was stolen for views.
The flipside of that is when users omit credits accidentally. 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. Here are a few rules to keep in mind.
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.
Pro Tip: We recommend tagging sources in both the image and in the caption. This is dual purpose. Firstly, it’s a conscientious move to cover all your bases and let your following know whose original content it is. Additionally, this ensures that your repost will be seen by the original account which is great exposure for you!
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 friendly connections 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. Here’s to originality!
Instagram Etiquette for Commenting
The amazing Jenny Komenda recently 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.
For more tips on elevating your social media strategy, check out these posts:
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.
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