Okay guys, sit down, grab a cup of coffee and maybe even a notepad. This one is going to be a bit lengthy. I started out wanting to keep it short and sweet but that never happens, so here we go.
From what I understand most people regram for one of three reasons 1) it takes the pressure/hassle out of creating original content for their own brand 2) user generated content 3) talking about other brands and creatives (as in, your caption is specifically about these people). Today’s post is specifically about reason #1.
Before I get into it, I want to clearly state my reason for writing this blogpost. While I think people are aware of the benefits of regramming and how it can help their brand image on Instagram, I have a feeling people aren’t totally aware of how it can negatively impact the perception of their brand. I’ve been seeing more and more creatives use content that isn’t theirs to populate their feed and I’m beginning to think that they aren’t aware that it can actually repel authentic connection with people. But I guess it matters most what your end game is. Is it to get more likes and followers (in which case, regram away–except, maybe don’t) or are you using Instagram to build trust in your brand, to convert your followers into your customers? Food for thought!
Below I lay out a few points that have been mulling around in my head after I realized exactly how prevalent this regramming business is. To be clear, I’m not sure regramming is a beast that can be fully controlled at large and it definitely has it’s benefits. I do, however, hope these points can help you make a more informed decision about the kind of presence you have on Instagram. At the end of the day it’s a platform that thrives best when you feed it original content. It isn’t Tumblr or Pinterest.
- You stand the risk of repelling rather than attracting. Instagram is no Pinterest or Tumblr for a reason. When people drop on your profile, they’re on your profile for you babe, not someone else. And sure, your caption can be all you, so it shouldn’t matter because it’s the words that really count right? Yea, maybe if you weren’t on a visual platform that was built and founded on the premise of unique content. Here’s a real life scenario: You know that feeling you get when you land on someone’s profile for the first time and you instantly know this is totally right up my alley? You get a little bit excited and click on an image to get a better feel for the person behind the brand and to see if there is actually something there you can connect with. And maybe they have something great to say, maybe they don’t. Regardless you notice the little 📷 icon at the bottom, crediting someone else for the photo that got you to click in the first place. Your heart sinks a littler. Okay, so it isn’t really them you’re connecting with but the person who took the photo. At this point, one of two things will happen. Either you click the link to go to the profile you actually connected with or you look for another photo hoping that it’s just a one off situation. Only it’s not and you’re no longer interested. I can’t tell you how many time this has happened with me. It’s was such a huge turn off–but I didn’t know if it was just affecting me simply because I was a photographer, so I asked a friend who owned a brand designing studio about her thoughts on the matter and lo’ and behold– I wasn’t alone. She admitted to being turned off by people who used other brand’s visual content to populate their feed and we both usually ended up doing the same thing–leaving that person’s feed being less than impressed. It should be noted that we are the type of people that use Instagram to connect with people, not just follow pretty accounts, which is why it’s important to know your target market and why they’d be following you.
- Someone probably paid to have those photos taken specifically for their brand. This one is definitely close to home for me. I once had someone regram a photo from my profile that was created specifically for a client. While there was no ill will on their part, I had to ask them to remove it, explaining the reason behind it. I take what I do seriously and at the crux of it is the fact that I create work specifically for my client’s brand to help them connect with their target market. If the image had been regrammed from my client’s account and they wanted to leave it, that was up to them. At the end of the day, I do believe it should be left up to the creator of the image or the client it was created for to have control over how that image is used and it doesn’t sit well with me if I were to see my client’s image being used to market another brand…which leads me to my next point.
- It’s copyright infringement. If you don’t believe me, I strongly encourage you to read this post where an attorney speaks on the topic over at Create & Cultivate. Many people don’t know this but once a shutter is pressed the rights of that that image, even in camera, belongs to the photographer (which they can then sell to the client, or come to a mutual agreement on usage rights which is what happens with me and my clients). So odds are you are either infringing upon someone’s copyright if they took that photo or as in the case of my clients and many other businesses and brands that hire a photographer to create content for them, you are freely using an image which they paid money for. Certainly puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? I know this all seems daunting and intimidating so I do wanna say that often times I don’t think people would mind if you use one of their images if you are specifically speaking about them or their work over on your feed. I mean they could–but I personally wouldn’t. But this is pretty much where the goodwill of “hey it’s free advertisement!” ends. Also, it was pointed out to me that your feed could actually be shut down if someone reports their photo as stolen by you–so better safe than sorry. Ask for permission.
- Consistency across platforms. So you have a pretty spiffy Instagram profile, you’re racking up followers because it’s so pretty. But what about your website? I’m pretty sure you aren’t using your regramed photos on your website, on Twittter or Facebook (I really hope you’re not). So what images are you using and is it consistent to your visual brand? Or are you telling yourself that you don’t need to hold your brand to the same standard on all platforms?
- You aren’t representing your brand, you’re actually representing someone else’s brand. If you walk into a Nike store and on the left your have apparel from Adidas and on the right they’re sporting some Under Armor goods does that help you understand who Nike is and what they sell? Sure, you’ll get the general idea that they’re into sporting goods. That works, right? And I mean, there’s the salesperson (your caption) who will talk to you about how they can actually create that exact Adidas sneaker, except you know, better– so you should definitely sign up to be in the loop! Bottom line, how can you talk honestly about what you and your brand is capable of in one breath and then show them someone else’s work in the next?
- You’re sending people away from your profile. Real talk. I can’t tell you how many times I get sucked into a profile like mentioned in #1 and end up following that little link to the actual creator of the photograph. And it’s not like Instagram has tabs, so I opened a new tab while still keeping your page open. No…I completely left your page and I’m eyeballs deep in someone else’s feed that you sent me to, forgetting about that link you told me about in your profile.
So there you have it. Those are my thoughts on the regramming that’s running rampant on Instagram. I didn’t really expect it to come off so skewed against regramming because I do think it can be done right:
- Asking for permission before you use someone’s photo.
- Not creating an entire feed consisting of of regrammed photos.
- Making sure to tag AND mention the original owner of the image.
At the end of the day, I think if you use Instagram professionally, it’s a golden opportunity for building trust and connecting with people who care about what you do. Just make sure you’re really putting your best foot forward.