Why Sharing Others’ Images on Your Social Feeds Without Credit Is No Longer Acceptable (It never was)

It’s 2019. I was SURE that anyone with the responsibility of running a social media account knew by now that if you choose to use someone else’s photo or work, you MUST GIVE THEM CREDIT in the post.

But here I am, in 2019, seeing brands large and small STILL fail to do this, so I’m laying it out in a blog post hopefully for the last time:

It is simply not okay to take an image that you did not take or create, such as from a photographer, another brand, one of your customers, or from Google, share it on social media, and then not tag the person who DID take or create it in your post. Can we all agree to stop stealing people’s work in this way, whether intentionally or not?

As a social media manager and photographer for winery brands, I know that a lot of beautiful pictures of our wines, properties, food, and experiences are created by people other than me and my camera. Guests post pictures of their rosé on our patio. Event attendees Instagram their glasses clinking with our waterfront views in the background. Wedding photographers capture unforgettable moments in our barrel room and venue space every weekend. And I try to share as much of it on my clients’ feeds as I can.

But I would never share images taken by a customer, photographer, or anyone else on my client’s social profiles without attributing that photo to the person who took it! It is a widely accepted rule in the social media world (and generally, life) that unless you created an image yourself, or paid someone to create it for you, you are expected to note who did.

In case your winery or other brand wasn’t previously aware of these attribution expectations (you wouldn’t be the first) – read how to do credit people properly on social media below. And beware that failing to do so can make your brand appear lazy, uninformed, or downright rude on social media, whether you mean to or not.

How to credit photographers and content creators for photos in your social media posts

Step 1: Be intentional about how you save and gather images for your posts.

Find a cool picture one of your customers took at your winery? Don’t just download the image file directly from Facebook and save it on your computer to upload to your own feed later. Who knows if you’ll be able to find the person’s name again and when you decide to share it on your business page. Instead, save the link to the post, so that when you go back to it later, you can see who posted it, THEN save it, and be sure to thank them when you share their photo.

Similarly, on Instagram, you can use the little bookmark/flag icon on a post to save it to a private folder – so instead of screenshotting one of your wedding photographers’ beautiful images in your venue space and forgetting who posted it, you can refer back to your saved folder of images and know who took the picture before you share it on your own feed and tag them.

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Step 2: When planning your social media captions, leave a reminder to yourself to include a photo credit if necessary for that post.

This is a crucial part of the content calendars I manage for my winery clients, particularly for their wedding venue feeds, on which we “regram” (re-Instagram, or share) our vendors’ images all the time. Whenever I draft a post using one of these images, I always end it with “CREDIT!” in my calendar so I know to tag the right people when I go to schedule it.

Not using a content calendar yet? (You should be! Ready why in my other blog post here). That’s okay. Just find some way of keeping efficient notes about your upcoming posts and who you need to thank or credit for the imagery.

Step 3: Do a little digging to find the information you need to tag someone and credit them on the platform you’re posting to.

Sometimes, it’s not immediately obvious who to credit for a photo (and I suspect this is the reason that many brands end up sharing images that are not theirs without credit – they might not have easily been able to find who to tag, or didn’t know where to look).

But with a little brief digging (which is the least you can do, given that you’re about to share someone else’s work instead of creating your own), it’s not that hard to find the right photographer or content creator to tag.

First – look at who originally posted the image. On social media, that’s a good sign that they are the account to tag and credit. If you know that they’re not the right person, look at who THEY tagged in the picture, which will often include the original creator. If you found an image on a website that you want to use, scan the text of the page – are there any clues about who may have taken the picture, if it’s not listed explicitly?

For wineries or other businesses that are also wedding venues – you may often see your past couples tag you in pictures from their weddings, but they forget to tag their photographers, so you don’t know who to credit. In this case for my winery clients, I connect with our events staff to figure out which wedding the photos are from, and find vendor information from the event itself, which usually lists the photographer, florist, wedding planner, and anyone else I need to tag.

Step 4: When posting, tag the content creator or photographer in both the caption (ideally in the first 2 lines) AND tag them in the photo.

Tagging someone both ways might sound excessive, but it’s ALWAYS better to make sure you’re clearly giving credit for work you didn’t create, no matter how someone might look for it. And if you tag the creator in your caption but it’s buried under 10 lines of text or all your hashtags – are you really doing them a service? Don’t make your credit hard to find.

A great way to credit someone in your caption without using too much space? Use the 📸 camera emoji, as seen below in a post for my client, District Winery:

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That’s it! It’s really not that hard, but properly crediting content creators for their imagery in this way makes a big difference in how your brand is perceived by others – and helps you avoid leaving a bad taste in a guest or photographer’s mouth by using their work without being clear about doing so.


Meaghan Webster is a wine and food photographer, marketing consultant, and results-based social media manager for wineries in Washington, DC, Virginia, and New York. Learn more about her services at meaghanwebster.com or see her latest work and tips at instagram.com/meaghanwmarketing.

 

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