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We love love LOVE Instagram! The focus on visual storytelling makes it the perfect platform for illustrating your brand’s voice and vision. If the old saying holds true, and a picture’s worth a thousand words, then a hashtagged, location-tagged, account tagged image shared via Insta is worth a million.

When it comes to growing your presence on Instagram, reposting and sharing content from other awesome sources is a key ingredient in your “social media secret sauce of success”. By this we mean sharing photos, videos, graphics and other content from websites, Facebook or Instagram accounts owned by other people or businesses. CinchShare’s app and desktop software make it simple to repost and share great content in a flash. This can be a fabulous option for mixing fresh content into your Instagram feed and Stories for lots of reasons. It helps build engagement, establishes new relationships, helps you reach a new audience and promotes another account in tandem with yours, to name a few.

However, sharing content improperly can backfire, or worse, legally land you in hot water. There are a few good-to-know guidelines for Instagram sharing and reposting etiquette. Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly – simplified.

The good: For the most part, people and businesses are flattered when you share their content, so long as you give them full credit for what you’re sharing. Always state plainly where the image came from in your post. Do a quick search for the source of the image in Instagram, if they’re on Insta, tag their account or location and add their hashtag to your post. For businesses, this is generally a win-win. They get extra exposure, and you get to share something awesome. When sharing an image from a website, Facebook or other social source mention where the image came from, for example: Photo credit: Fancypants Boutique, via Facebook.

If the image you want to share originated from a person, professional photographer or publication source – ask for permission to share before moving forward. No need to overthink this step, a simple “Hey! I love this photo, and would like to share it on my Instagram page. If I gave you photo credit and tagged you, would you be ok with me sharing this?” is all you need here. This puts the veto power in the hands of the original source, which is where it belongs. If they say no (which is rare), end of story. Move onto your next option.

The bad: We have ALL looked to Google for quotes, inspirational sayings, branded images and the like. Google and other search engines are a bottomless well for resources like these. However, images here are sometimes copyrighted, branded by the creator, or not intended for sharing. Since tracking down the original source can be an arduous, often fruitless process, our advice is: Gather inspiration from these sources, then make your own! In the time it takes you to find the original source and ask for permission, you could have created your very own custom version! CinchShare’s Design with Canva button makes it easy to recreate quotes, sayings and similar graphics with YOUR brand’s colors, fonts and feel. Once you make it yourself, be sure to save it in your CinchShare Folders, so you can re-use it again later!

*Funny Stuff Note: Most memes and art from sources such as Someecards were designed to be shared in the hopes of “going viral”. Feel free to share this type of funny content, so long as it didn’t come from a site where the image is being sold.

The ugly: When it comes to digital art, photos, video and other content created by a person, business or organization – it is never, ever ok to use these images as if they were your own. Unless the image was shared for use under the Creative Commons (CC) License – such as stock images or video found on sites like Pixabay – you shouldn’t ever post them to your feed or story without proper attribution of the source. Taking credit for other people’s images isn’t merely misleading and in bad form, if the work is copyrighted, it’s against the law. If discovered, the original owner could publicly call you out and shame you, or worse, serve you up a cease and desist or slap you with legal retribution. Either way, it’s drama you don’t want or need in your life!

To recap, when it comes to sharing and reposting content from another source on Instagram – remember the acronym ACAT.

Ask for permission

Create your own version

Attribute your source

Tag original source, location & hashtag

Sharing beautiful content from other sources can breathe fresh life into your Instagram account, and is definitely something we recommend. Remember, behind almost everything that catches your eye on Instagram, there is a person who took the time to create it. We hope these tips help you share smarter!