instagram etiquette: why it matters + why you should care.

instagram etiquette: why it matters and why you should care.

When I joined Instagram three years ago, it was little more than an auxiliary social media platform. I posted haphazard photos of everyday life and didn't overanalyze things. I don't know exactly when it changed, but somewhere along the way, Instagram became so much more. From photo editing apps like VSCO CAM to shopping platforms like LIKEtoKNOW:it, there are countless ways to make your snapshots more than just a photo. 

Far and away, Instagram is my favorite social media platform. I have always loved photography, so my favoritism should come as no surprise. In the midst of my love and affection for Instagram, there is also a bit of frustration. The seven points below encompass my view on Insta-etiquette in a nutshell:

1) IF YOU'RE GOING TO SHARE, USE PROPER SOURCING: If my most viewed {and pinned} post of all time is any indication, I am a sourcing fanatic. I won't pin a photo until I can find the link to the person, blog or brand who created the content. As a blogger, I know just how long it takes to craft new posts. Though I don't share "inspirational" photos from others on my Instagram feed, it makes my blood boil to see the hard work of my fellow creatives uncredited and unattributed on Instagram. Applying a new filter and adding some text below the image does not make it yours. Do your due diligence and find the source before you're tempted to share someone else's content. I have heard countless stories about missed attribution and have experienced it myself. While you may be inspired by someone else, prettying up your own feed with their work isn't the best tactic. If you do share someone else's work, always {and I mean always} tag them in the initial photo description. Otherwise, the quick passerby of your feed will miss the attribution completely. My personal opinion is that you shouldn't share the work of others, but I know I could be alone on this one.

2) DON'T PROFIT FROM OTHERS' HARD WORK: On the subject of sharing others' work, don't take someone else's image and make it shoppable. It may be a "smart" business move for a blogger, but you shouldn't be profiting from someone else's outfit or living room. Forever and ever, amen.

3) STOP SHARING FOR THE SAKE OF SHARING: In the past, I used to beat myself up for not sharing new content on my Instagram feed daily. These days, I don't give myself the guilt trip. You may read things about how sharing regularly is the best way to gain followers. I can't argue with those articles: when I'm posting more frequently, I do see my followers increase. When I mention "sharing for the sake of sharing", I mean the posts where you toss something up there just to say you Instagrammed that day. Chances are that if you don't like what you're posting...others won't either. Blowing up someone's feed with mundane things is just that: mundane. Allow yourself a pass. Instagram isn't going anywhere. 

4) DON'T OVER-GRAM: In a similar vein to #3, there are few days in life which require more than three or four Instagrams. Back in the good ol' days, I didn't pay attention to the number of snaps I shared. Fast forward to present day: I rarely share more than two Instagrams in a 24-hour period. On vacation or for a big life event, I may share three or four photos in a day, but it is incredibly uncommon. This is just one example, but follow me here: unless you work in the food industry {or have a food-oriented Instagram account}, no one needs to see all six courses of your dinner. I rest my case.

5) BE ORIGINAL: Peony season inevitably brings an onslaught of peony posts. If you're going to share these beautiful blooms, find some way to make yours different and stand out from the crowd. This concept applies to all of your Instagrams: don't knowingly re-create an Instagram you saw elsewhere. It is just the same as re-gramming someone else's work without attribution. Ick.

6) LEAVE GENUINE COMMENTS: Commenting is a fabulous way to join the "conversation" on Instagram. However, if you don't have something nice to say, leave it to yourself. Leaving a comment on Instagram is so much easier than leaving one on a blog. Quipping something rude and inappropriate may seem funny, but it can be incredibly hurtful. While bloggers are used to putting themselves out there, it doesn't mean that Instagram is the forum in which to criticize them. I may be on my own island here, but I don't think I am: keep your negativity to yourself. Nobody wants it.  

7) STAY TRUE TO YOU: My favorite Instagrams are often the ones which receive the fewest likes. This used to confuse me, but now I understand. Be it the subject or the timing, certain Instagrams will always perform better. {Think about yourself as a potential follower of your feed; it should all make sense.} When I look back on my feed in a few years, I will be glad to have those low-performing photos in it. In the end, all that matters is that your Instagram feed reflects you. Goodness knows, my Instagram feed isn't the most popular. {I gave up caring about the number of followers and likes long ago.} I share what makes my heart happy and this has made all the difference for me.

What would you add to the Instagram etiquette conversation? I share these seven pointers because I would genuinely like to make Instagram better -- not because I'm better than anyone else. Instagram etiquette matters because social media is, by definition, a public platform. We owe it to one another to  be supportive and encouraging, rather than catty and calculated. Agreed? xoxo {av}

P.S. The lucky winner of my $100 Rent The Runway giveaway is Anne from In Residence! Many thanks to all who entered :)

23 comments:

  1. This is EVERYTHING. Amen, times a thousand. I hate, hate, hate seeing people post photos that aren't their own. NOT COOL. I've even had big brands post photos of MY work without giving credit. It sucks.

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  2. 100% with you on this! I think a lot of it comes down to people being lazy sometimes - not bothering to find the right source.

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  4. This post is so true! Thanks for taking the time for this!

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  5. I'm a source fanatic too and I've been noticing that Instagram is starting to go the way of Pinterest and finding the source is getting harder and harder.

    http://jax-and-jewels.blogspot.com

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  6. This is one of my favorite posts, ever. :)

    Lianna

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  7. preach it!! it's soooo important for ppl to source their images if they repost on instagram! xo jillian - cornflake dreams

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  8. You final comment rings most true to me, it can be difficult to reconcile the function of Instagram as a promotional tool for your brand/blog/product as well as being a personal photo album. At one point I considered have separate accounts but finally realised that, for me, it was about representing who I am as a blogger, food lover, home cook and owner of Abraham Lincoln (The kitten, not the 16th president)

    www.hollylikestocook.com

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  9. Yay for the one about rude comments. I really can't stand seeing that ish online in any platform. You can say your opinion without being a jackass. Great post! : )

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  10. Yes over posting is the worst! I dont want my timeline filled with 8 pictures in a row about your day...spread them out or something!

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  11. Well said! Glad you brought this subject up!

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  12. A-MEN. Numbers 1-3 ring especially true. Even with proper sourcing, it's also sad to me how many unoriginal accounts there are out there, bursting with thousands and thousands of followers, even though they are regramming 90% of the time, rather than putting out their own content. It's crazy to see what this platform has become, and I wholeheartedly hope others will see this post and take it to heart! xo

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