Rules of the Regram: Instagram Etiquette Behind Reposting
Most people get confused about what to do when they want to share someone else's content on their Instagram accounts. Most people will say the lines are blurry when it comes to that. But I say social media regrams don't need to be a grey area. There's what is legal and there's what is right. And we should address both when using content someone else spent time, knowledge, and money to create. So first, let's look at the rules:
But let's talk about it in more detail and address the best practices and ethical regrams:
I have personally more and more recommended people move away from posting other people's photos or graphics in their Instagram feeds.
There are many reasons to focus on creating your own content instead of using regrams today:
- Your own content will always be more fitting to your brand than someone else's
- When you post other people's content, not everyone seeing it will be able to tell it's not your own, no matter how clearly you state it
- If someone wants to share your post (with your consent), it can bring you new followers
- There are many amazing stock photo options, where you can get photos you will have the rights to use legally
- Graphics perform even better than photos these days, and there are so many Canva templates you can get that are affordable and you're able to speak to your audience through your own voice while keeping a pretty feed.
- You're not taking content someone worked hard to create and just use it for your own business's benefit
- To avoid upsetting creators and backlash from being in this grey area (what may be clear credit to you, my not be to others)
However, if you have written authorization from the content owner, you can use it. But to avoid the grey area, this is how I recommend you ask for permission.
Send them a DM with simple, yet detailed information on:
- How you want to use their image
- How exactly will you credit them
- What the post will be used for
That way they will know what they are agreeing to and what to expect. If they are okay with it, they will let you use their content.
What we recommend:
- Never use it in an paid ad
- Never change anything about the image in any way (that includes filters, cropping, adding your brand to it)
- Don't use it to sell anything inside your business
- Always give credit in the beginning of your caption, before the more button, so if someone sees it but doesn't click more, they will see the credit
- Be as clear as possible in your credit (ie: "image by: @their-handle-here")
- Tag the person in the photo as well, but never only tagging in the photo (most people don't see this).
To me that's a big NO! I will personally never allow anyone to use my captions and will have them remove a post for this. The reason for that is that people are used to the concept of people regramming images. But most people don't think the caption was part of the regram.
In my case, I use my captions to add value, educate my audience, and sell my products. The thoughts are all my own and there's no reason why another account should use them.
So as far as I am concerned, no grey area here either. It's ALWAYS wrong to use someone's caption as part of your regram.
When you see a catchy phrase on Instagram, it's very common to start seeing people take that phrase and add to a graphic in their own brand colors and font and slap their logos or handles for good measure.
That's theft, or if I want to be mild about it, content appropriation.
Besides it not being ethical, your audience will notice and will know it's not yours. So steer clear, no matter how cute that phrase is.
A better way to use that in your content? Ask for permission and use it as a quote, between quotation marks and with the name of the person who said it, loud and clear (and definitely bigger than your handle).
You can also work that into your own caption, again as a quotation and mentioning why that resonated with you. As for quotes from famous people, it's okay to use but use it as such. A quote, with proper credit.
I only share someone else's content on my feed for three reasons (and get permission before posting):
- When I am featuring the creator
- When I want to amplify their messages or voices
- When the image or graphic features me, my products or services (and in this case we still need written permission)
If you use the Share feature, the little paper airplane icon on the bottom of the post, when you share to stories, the original author of the post will be automatically linked.
That's why sharing to stories is widely acceptable and solves the problem of appropriation. It's pretty clear you are not using this content as your own, and if people are in doubt, when they click on the image they will be led to the original post.
But even then, I recommend you go the extra mile and use the text feature in stories to add your own comment about that post and credit the creator again with their clickable handle. The reason for this is because when you share to stories, you have two options of layouts (if you tap on the image you will see the options).
One of them has a faint handle of the original creator that is not that easy to read. So someone that looks at it quickly and doesn't tap to go to the original poster, may think it's your own post.
If we all do our part, we can unblurry the lines. I say we take regrams from being a source of frustration to a way to promote others and create relationships with creators we admire.
Manu Muraro is the founder of Your Social Team, an Instagram training membership and template shop to help social media managers and Instagram-savvy women entrepreneurs to beat the algorithm and grow their organic engagement (yes, even in 2021). This year she also launched Your Template Club, a Canva Template subscription to provide social media managers and Instagram savvy business owners with content templates designed for engagement in their inboxes.
Born and raised in Brazil, Manu moved to the U.S. in 2000 right out of college to work for Cartoon Network, where she made an award winning career in creative and strategy. In 2017, Manu started Your Social Team with the mission of helping women entrepreneurs and social media managers grow engagement and sales through Instagram, without the overwhelm.
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