So, if we’re being 100% honest here – we really wish someone had explained Instagram Etiquette to us when we were beginning to use Instagram for our business. Because in a world of constantly changing algorithms, fake accounts and “highlight” reels – it’s easy to accidentally make an “Instagram faux-pas”. But don’t worry! We’ve rounded up key tips to repost, get reposted and keep friends on Instagram that we’ve learned from personal experience, our favorite photographers, and being straight called out.
How to properly share someone else’s photo on Instagram:
- Pinterest is not a stock photo source. This is #1 Instagram Etiquette faux-pas in our book. If you find an image on Pinterest you’d like to share on Instagram, you MUST click through to find the original source (ie: the blog it was originally featured on, the magazine it was published in, etc). Pinterest is an image search engine, just in a different format. By citing Pinterest as your photo source, it’s like citing Google. Since Pinterest automatically links back to the original source – you can repin images all you want! Just keep them on that platform, or cite accurately when moving the images to Instagram, your blog or your website.
- Tag the source account in the original caption AND the photo. If you’re still growing your Instagram account, this one is tricky to understand – but since Instagram caps the number of notifications you can view in a day, it’s easy for your caption tag to get lost in someone’s notifications feed. For example – our account only lets us see our 60 most recent notifications. Between new followers, likes and comments – many comments that we’re tagged in, we might never see. However – if you tag the source account in the photo itself, they’ll never miss it! This is not just a courtesy, it also helps get you noticed!
- Ask permission. While this isn’t always expected nor required, nothing is a higher compliment than when someone reaches out to us and asks if they can share our images. People invest a lot of resources – time, energy and finances, to creating original content images, so the courtesy of asking is one of the quickest ways to break the ice with an account you admire.
- Spread it out. Even if you’re properly crediting your sources, make sure to have a healthy mix of accounts you’re regramming from, along with your original content. Since accounts often spend significant funds hiring professional photographers and sourcing props, its an ethical gray area to continuously repost a specific account’s images because they are “on brand” for you. Because, well, those images are actually on brand for them. We encourage a healthy mix of 60/40. 60% of your images be original to you, 40% of your images can be regrams from various accounts.
- Do not edit the original photo. Don’t apply filters or edit the photo to make it match your feed better. If the photo doesn’t fit your “feed”, then find another that does and credit it’s creator accurately.
- Don’t repost from a direct competitor, to market yourself. In the world of entrepreneurs, this happens more than we’d like to admit. Someone in the same industry, with the same target clients will regram one of our photos and change the caption to sell their own services. For a lack of a better word – it just doesn’t feel good.
What to do if you come across your content that hasn’t credited you properly:
- Leave a comment. We like to err on the side of community over competition, so we’ll always just leave a friendly comment that says, “Thanks so much for sharing my [insert photo content here]! I’m so glad you like it!”. This gives them friendly engagement, but also brings to their attention who’s photo it is.
- Follow up with a DM. After you leave a nice comment, just shoot them a DM asking for them to tag you in the caption and the photo itself. Something like this always comes across friendly and direct. “Hey there! Thanks so much for sharing my [insert photo content here]. Would you mind please crediting me as the source by tagging my in the caption and photo? I so appreciate the share!”
What is the Instagram Etiquette if your photo was shared and you were tagged, but your photographer wasn’t:
Most major accounts have social media managers who are accustomed to Instagram etiquette, but every once in a while, a photo credit will slip through the cracks. (This happened to us this weekend when Self Magazine shared our image that Kelsey Butler took for us). Start with leaving a comment thanking them for the share and include something like, “Hey [insert photographer’s account here]! Did you see your photo was reposted? So exciting!” Then follow up with a friendly DM to the reposting account and simply ask them to tag the photographer as well. Just be sure to be appreciative for the repost, understanding that it was an accident, and grateful for their cooperation.
What to do if you have a stock photo account and your stock photo was reposted:
This is such a tricky one, and our good friend Kate Max of Kate Max Stock walked us through it. A great option when you’re starting out is a stock photography account – and many don’t require you to tag them as your source in their terms of service. But often, people will regram that image (which you’ve rightfully paid for) and only tagged you – not the actual photographer. Kate suggests reaching out to the person directly via Direct Message and informing them that it is a purchased stock photo, that you don’t actually have licensing to share, and asking them to remove it. It’s possible they might ignore you – and that’s when you bring it to the attention of your stock photo account and they can handle it from there.
Okay – well what if I WANT my photo regrammed?
YES! It’s so exciting and a huge key to growing your following. The best way to get regrammed? Shoot content with products from key accounts in it and tag them in the photo. Fashion bloggers and interior designers do this really well, but it totally translates to small business too – brands love it because it’s advertising AND original content for them. Another way to get featured? Use branded hashtags from big accounts. You can easily see what hashtag a company wants users to use either on the footer of their website or in their bio on Instagram. Their team continually searches that hashtag to find content to repost!
Well, that was less than inspiring.
Yup – that was a lot of Instagram Etiquette rules. It may feel like it sucks the fun right out of Instagram. But it’s so important to support fellow artists, makers, shakers and entrepreneurs – and in order to do that, you have to give credit where credit is due. We are firm believers in building each other up, inspiring each other, and celebrating each others successes. These simple rules for Instagram Etiquette are quick to implement and go a long way in the name of community.
The easiest way to avoid having to remember all this? Focus on creating your own awesome content! Team up with a local photographer and shoot a few dozen of your own branded images that will last you for months on Instagram. Get a stock photo subscription and curate your favorites to share on your account. Use your favorite accounts for inspiration and recreate the images you love with the items you have around the house! Have fun with it and get ready to watch the engaged followers start rolling in.
The Identité Collective 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 small businesses elevate their digital presence to become industry experts. Want to work together? Shoot us an inquiry here.