Credit Where Credit Is Due

Getty Images / by Marjan_Apostolovic

Getty Images / by Marjan_Apostolovic

Author: Sarah Stevens
Image: Getty Images / by Marjan_Apostolovic

I'm guessing it is my journalism background, but there is something that bugs me no end when it comes to social media accounts and that is when people don't give credit to a source.

I have a bad habit that has developed from this frustration. You see, every time I see someone post something without a credit I generally do a little Insta digging (crazy, I know) but nine out of ten times I find a direct source in a couple of minutes.

But there's a second sin that I find just as bad, and that's when a post does credit someone but the tagged account clearly admits it is not its own image and has in fact posted the original source (ie. it would have taken the person two clicks to find the original photo taker and be able to credit both where it is from and how they found it). There is simply one word for that... LAZY!

So what kind of Insta-person are you? A 'cowboy poster' who shoots first and asks later or a 'polite poster' who carefully considers their fellow social-ites? Because this isn't just about doing what is right, it's also good for your account as well. 'Playing nice' in the social arena is just like extending courtesies in everyday life. Did your parents ever use the line "Treat people like you would like to be treated yourself"? Getting my point now? Good. 

Excellent social media etiquette will be noticed by others and will be yet another reason your account will be highly regarded... and followed.

The good news? It's not too late to change your ways. If you've been a bit blasé about re-posting, make a rule moving forward to kerb your cowboy ways. Here are a few simple guidelines to stick to:

  1. Tag, tag, tag. I tell my clients that best practice is to tag the source in the image and in the text.

  2. If in doubt, don't. If you can't find where it came from then don't post the picture. I'm not advocating spending hours of precious time scrawling through accounts to find someone to tag, but most of the time the image isn't worth it so just move on.

  3. Check their bio. See if they say anything about re-grams. Some people, photographers especially, make a point of asking people not to use their images without a direct message asking permission or sometimes even not at all. Respect those wishes.

I have found the new 'search and re-post' function on Later to be really useful in this regard (provided you have the original source) because it not only allows me to reuse the image with the author tag but also the information they used in their post about the picture too (including mentioning any links in their bio or website). And all of this without any ugly re-gram graphics on the picture. Yay! (FYI, Later is free if you are only using it for under 30 posts a month and for one account and also has some new analytics tools to look at your engagement on Instagram too).

I know there are lots of sins committed on social media and you may think this is the least of them, but it's not to me. You wouldn't stand up in a work meeting and take credit for someone else's idea, so why would you do it to someone on social media.

Love to hear your thoughts. What are your experiences? Ever had images reused without credit? I'm happy to be told I am being too harsh... Or perhaps you have a different social media faux pas that gets your blood boiling?

Sarah Stevens is a former journalist, magazine editor and TV producer, and the director of Content Society. You can see more of her work here.

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