I have thought about writing a blog post based on Instagram etiquette for years now. I guess I resisted writing about it because it could sound a little ridiculous, but whether we like it or not, technology is progressing faster and faster and social media is more common and a part of most of our every day lives. Rather than criticize the direction things are moving, I prefer to embrace it and make the most of it. With all that said, none of the big social media platforms really come with a set of rules or instructions other than the Terms of Service page that no one ever reads. These just explain why some of what should be the most innocent hashtags should never actually be clicked. I'm going to cover only a small portion of Instagram etiquette today, if you want me to add to the topics, just leave me a message in the comments and I'll be happy to work on it!
I just want to start this off by saying that this post is meant to be lighthearted and there are no real hard lines. I suppose one of the beautiful things about Instagram IS that there are no rules and you can present yourself in whatever way you please. I simply think the ideas that I'm sharing are nice to consider when using the Instagram app. I believe in manners and being thoughtful of others in all that you do, so why not on social media as well? We are all adults here and everything is subjective, we get it, friendly debates welcome, crazy angry people - not! Also, please don't hold me to any of this. I'm sure I haven't always followed my own rules, the point is, we should all strive to be better in every area of our lives, even on Instagram! Note, the stories and names used are completely made up! I'm not passively projecting to anyone.
I began with the topic of commenting, because I feel pretty passionate about this one. It is polite to keep your comment about the subject or the poster. It seems that it is almost human nature to want to direct the attention back towards yourself, but it would be polite to resist doing so when commenting on another users post. For example, Susie posts a photo of her new red pants. If you feel the urge to comment "I have those!" or "Just bought those!" or "Twins!" I wouldn't. I would say it's almost better to not comment at all. It's better to compliment Susie, or if you want to relate with her, compliment her first and then relate with her second: "You look awesome in those red pants! I have the same pair, I'm really liking them." If you don't think she looks good, then it's better to simply not comment, throw a like and move on rather than leave a comment talking about yourself. I look at the comment box as a submission of encouragement to other people or a place to have some hilarious banter.
Don't be negative.
Don't be that person who rarely comments, and then when you do, it's a negative one. A backhanded compliment or comment pointing out the flaw in the image from a follower that rarely ever likes or comments on your feed can leave a bad taste in ones mouth or send a negative message to the poster. Keep it positive and stick to the age old saying your mother told you, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." You see, if there is content you don't approve of or enjoy, the biggest action you can take is no action at all. Don't comment, don't like, just keep scrolling. Resist the urge to spread negativity.
WHAT TO DO IF SOMEONE UNFOLLOWS YOU
If someone unfollows you, RELAX. Do not fret, do not contact them and don't start to get weird.
Sometimes people have their own reasons for unfollowing a person and sometimes it could even be a compliment to you. Social media in my opinion has ignited jealous emotion in a lot of people and they have no idea that daily they are feeding that emotion by simply scrolling and viewing some content. Heck they might even tell themselves they unfollowed you because you're annoying, but it could really just be that their relationship is in the dumps right now and they don't want to keep seeing photos of you and your boyfriend holding hands and kissing. There's nothing wrong with your make-out pics, it's just not what that person wants to allow in right now, and that's okay. You need to let that person have the ability to decide that for themselves and put the ego aside. DO NOT change the way you act in person, do NOT awkwardly mention it, just keep on! If they are cool with you in person, that's all you should base your relationship on. You never know what a person is going through and 99% of the time it's not really about you!
Don't unfollow a person solely based on the fact that they unfollowed you. If you enjoy their feed, keep following, keep liking, keep commenting. If you never liked their feed to begin with, well hallelujah! Unfollow, you are now free. Side note, I really try to encourage friends to not use those apps that show you who unfollows you. To me, it defeats the purpose of instagram, and creates drama and strife where there doesn't need to be any! I use to have that app a few years ago and it got me really inside my head. When you aren't aware it's great because you just simply do not care or think about the reason why because, well - you don't know enough to care! Even if someone is unfollowing you because they decided they aren't that fond of you anymore, oh well! Guess you'll never know now unless they tell you face to face! Don't allow people to be passive aggressive through those dang unhealthy apps!
WHAT IF SOMEONE BLOCKS ME?
Good question! If it's a person that you have never had beef with and you are completely and utterly perplexed at the reason why they blocked you (ie: a complete stranger) it is okay to somehow (I say somehow because you're blocked and it's more difficult to now contact them) let them know in a non accusatory manner: "hey I think you may have blocked me by mistake!" and let them know how you noticed it. Once again, don't start to get creepy and create a whole new account to do this, first assess how important it is to you to let this person know. If it's solely about your ego, move on. If it's because you admire the person and wish to actually follow them, proceed. I once had a cute blogger have me blocked on @goldmorning. I went on @beulah to let her know that I found her on @instibraid, clicked through to her page, and I was blocked. I wanted to make sure that I didn't in some way insult her. We cleared it up as an accident and even had a nice convo afterwards. No big deal! We now follow each-other. If you are absolutely clueless and there isn't even a small thought inside your head of WHY ON EARTH would this happen to me, then the above action is okay and very normal. If there is a beef and you land on their page like, "that B blocked me!" it really is pointless to block the person in return. DO NOT BLOCK BACK. If the person really wants to see your page, they can create a second account or just write your dang user name in safari (instagram.com/personyouarestalkinghere). So unless you straight up want to let the person know "I SEE YOU AND I DON'T LIKE YOU!" then it's pointless to block back for privacy reasons alone. Take the high road and leave it be. I don't think anyone should be blocking anyone for any reason unless the person is doing something to harm them or wrong them.
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO BLOCK SOMEONE?
This question to me is simple personally, and yet a little more convoluted when it comes to business. Now-a-days there are third-party apps that can attempt to steal the established followers of your account to benefit theirs. If you don't block these accounts they will attempt to steal your hard earned followers and spam their fake comments and likes onto their pages. I'm still waiting for instagram to do something about that problem! Blocking someone never really feels that great, so it would be nice to avoid doing it for that reason all together.
If the business issue is, "she is copying me, I want to block her," Look into HOW much you think this person is copying you. If it's a freakish amount down to their content and verbiage being the same as yours, where you think they might be checking your stuff daily to trace your steps, I would consider it okay to block. However, you don't want to create animosity, so if you deem it worth it and you feel passionate enough about it, then go ahead. Odds are that they are stealing from you in other areas as well, whether it be clientele or sales. If the issue is a copy here, another coincidental copy there that could simply be chalked up as inspiration, then I would resist a block.
Block someone if they are harassing you. We have already established that if you're account is public and they can still look you up, but blocking is still effective because they can no longer tag you on images, like your post or comment. If you really want this person to not find you, than you may want to consider going private. However, it is okay to block them.
Other than the two reasons above, I personally see no point in using the blocking function. If your situation is unique and you'd like advice on it, then go ahead and leave a comment and I'll do my best!
This rule is much less hard and fast as the others. Because every Instagram user follows a different amount of followers and for different reasons, you don't want to fill their entire feeds with your photos. To be considerate I would say 1-5 images a day is within a reasonable amount. I would also think about spacing them out at least 30 minutes in between a set of two images. Five may even sound like a lot, however I follow 522 people so if my friend posts five photos from her New York trip, it doesn't seem overwhelming to me, and I actually quite enjoy getting to see the what she did and the good time that she had! Especially if she takes great photos. However, some people follow under 100 people and it may get a little intense for them, as all your photos may be in a row in their feed. At that point, I would just suggest they start to follow more people (insert laughing emoji here). Just don't be surprised if you get an unfollow, because even if you have 30 minutes in-between, your image still may be the next one up. I recently had to unfollow someone for posting 25 (yes 25) party pics in a row for two straight days. I may follow them back now assuming the surge is over (it was around new years eve.) Instagram isn't like Facebook where you upload an album. You must choose your favorites and then post those. This really is a tough tough topic because everyone is on Instagram for a different reason, whether it be personal or business. Everyone is portraying or selling something different and going about it in a different way. In the end though, it is your account, and if someone feels you are posting too frequently, they always have the option to unfollow. Just remember, don't get offended when they do!
If you look into the Instagram Terms of Service, it clearly states that Instagram is not for us to share other images, but our own. However, everyone is guilty of posting an image that isn't theirs, and so am I. If you were going to get rid of every posted image that didn't belong to the user, at least 20% of the posts that exist on Instagram would be gone. Most likely far more.
My advice to you is to try be considerate and understand that their are talented people and photographers connected to those images.
Even if you found them on Pinterest, the person in the photo is a blogger, hair stylist, or photographer. They took a great photo, it got re-pinned, wound up on your Pinterest feed, and caught your attention enough to repost it. Keep in mind though, content doesn't just come into existence, people work hard to create it. It's not just an image. It's someones job. It seems like it's a harmless thing, but reposting without credit devalues the artistry as a whole, and then we all suffer. If you're using professional work without permission or paying them to promote your page, the very least you can do is find the rightful owner and give them credit. Take 2 minutes to drag that image into Google Image Search and find the origin of the image and tag and credit them. Nine out of ten times when doing this, I find the owner and I do my very best to tag them. There have been times I get a little lazy but it weighs on me, because I'm a photographer and I wouldn't appreciate someone using my image without credit or a photo of me without credit. If you're reposting directly from the artist or persons page by taking a screenshot, then there really is no excuse - tag them, and don't just tap tag them, put their username in the caption too. It's just the right thing to do! You will make more connections and network better this way, promise!
In the end, we're entering into a new era of communication. Everything is moving at hyper speed, and we're all more informed and connected than ever. With all this increased communication comes increased offense as a natural byproduct. It would benefit us all to know how to use each social media platform in a healthy manner, in order to continue to love and communicate with each other in a healthy way.