Instagram etiquette / by Rachel Ford

Everybody got they cups but they ain't chipped in. Not cool. Image: Ford Marketing Lab/Kyle Ford.

Everybody got they cups but they ain't chipped in. Not cool. Image: Ford Marketing Lab/Kyle Ford.

When someone holds the door open for you, you say thank you. When you request something from someone, you say please. When you sneeze, you cover your mouth (we hope). But when it comes to Instagram, the rules of polite human decency are a little less obvious. Just what is the proper etiquette for social media? 

Here are the three things you must do:

1) Offer photo credit. By law, the person pressing the shutter button owns the image, so give them a shout. Asking someone to snap your photo seems like a small favor, until the picture has been posted to Instagram to rave reviews, and then they've done something they could have been paid to do. Obviously, the tourist on the street probably doesn't know (or care) that the small favor resulted in something he can take ownership of, but legally, he could come collect. Additionally, if the photo is fantastic and someone wants to repost, credit will carry over for both the person who snapped the pic and the person who originally posted, which is doubly polite. 

2) Cite your sources when reposting. Re-gramming is considered a form of flattery, but you've got to give credit to the original poster to avoid being an Insta-a$$hole (or worse). Passing something off as your own is not cool; in school it's called plagiarizing, in a store it's called stealing, and in business it's called fraud. If you're just a guy with a personal account, it's about being polite; if you're more than just a guy with a personal account, it could potentially cause legal drama. Just yesterday, we read on Page Six that socialite/model Hailey Baldwin is being sued for $150,000 for allegedly posting a quote on her social channels without giving proper credit to the author. Bottom line: be polite and cite.

3) Tag with caution. It's always a good idea to tag brands that are featured in your posts; brands love to see their goods in use, and it could lead to anything from a regram to a partnership. But tagging your whole company in a picture of you doing your job? That's annoying. Our general rule: only tag persons, places, or things featured in the image. Before you tag, ask yourself if it might be more appropriate to mention your intended taggee in a comment instead.