Just because something is rampant or inevitable, doesn’t mean that it’s ok. This sentiment applies to a whole heap of small business challenges – including when another Instagram profile regrams your content on their grid, without permission.
Other Instagram accounts regramming content without permission happens all the dang time. It also increases with frequency as you increase your reach, which is a result of gaining more Instagram followers and your posts being seen by a larger audience.
It seems to be most prevalent with graphic posts – like quotes and how-to guides – and illustrations. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen with photographic posts too – once I found another Bristol-based marketing agency scraping photos of my own face for their Instagram feed (seriously, you can still see some of the screenshots in the Google review I left when they refused to remove my content from their social media accounts).
I’ve spoken to heaps of content creators and small business owners on Instagram about how they feel when another account regram their Instagram content without consent. The general response is that they’re flattered that someone likes their content enough to share it – but they still feel a little violated, because something was taken from them without their permission.
The vast majority do not want their content regrammed – but struggle to put into words exactly ‘why’ – after all, the original post still exists – so you don’t lose anything, right?
Well, no, that’s not right.
So here’s six frustrating ways your brand is damaged when someone regrams your Instagram content, so that you can feel more comfortable challenging your own content copycats.
What is a ‘regram’
It wouldn’t be a Studio Cotton blog post without a little over-explanation, but hey – I like to cover all my bases.
In the context of this blog, a regram is when someone takes a post from your grid (the main Instagram feed) to share on their on feed. It makes no difference if the copied post contains a ‘credit’, like an account tag in the image or the caption.
It is not the same as sharing in your Instagram Stories using the post share feature. I’ll be adding a follow up blog about this soon, but in the meantime you can find out more about how this is different via this recent post that I shared via the Studio Cotton Instagram account.
Regramming without consent used to kinda-maybe-kinda be ok, but it defo isn’t now
Two of the reasons regramming is so commonplace, is that it used to be a pretty effective social media strategy, and because Instagram/Facebook Ts & Cs were so muddy, that it wasn’t really ‘against the rules’.
That said, it has always been on shaky ground when it comes to copyright ownership and the DMCA, which came into effect a good 12 years before Instagram was launched.
Now that’s more than enough reasons for regramming without permission to stop – but I didn’t include these two in my six ways regramming damages your brand because I’m super generous like that.
Innocent mistakes and good regramming intentions
When discussing regramming on Instagram, I usually get quite a few DMs and comments from incredibly well-intentioned people who have been sharing content on their grids, from other accounts, without permission – either defending their actions, or much more often – feeling really worried because they didn’t realise they weren’t ‘supposed to’.
I’m afraid no matter how innocent the mistake, it’s still the wrong thing to do, and you may have accidentally upset someone or damaged their business when you were trying to do a nice thing.
That said – this doesn’t make you a bad person. We all make mistakes, especially when there’s not a clear rulebook to follow. This is a lovely opportunity to change your tactics, and understand a little more from the creators side.
What a difference consent makes
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with two accounts sharing the same content on their Instagram grids, as long as all parties have had the opportunity to weigh up the risks and rewards, to make their own judgement.
And that’s where consent comes into it. By not asking for permission, and not obtaining consent, the ability to make an informed decision is removed from the content creator, and that isn’t fair.
Right, I’ve run out of things to explain, so let’s dive into how regramming Instagram posts can damage your small business.
1. The positive impact for your small business is reduced
Quality content makes people think, feel, or take action. This is the precise reason why creators invest in their Instagram presence, as the impact adds hella value to a small business.
When multiple accounts share the same piece of content, that impact is shared, which means the value to the originator decreases significantly.
The Studio Cotton Instagram strategy is to share super valuable and digestible marketing advice. This makes people think “wow, those peeps at Studio Cotton are really good at this marketing pish”, so that when they need to call someone to help market their small business – they think of Studio Cotton.
2. Negative associations damage your brand perception
Creating links between profiles affects your brand affinity (how positively people feel about a business). That’s why collabs are so darned popular and powerful.
This brand affinity pish works both ways. Links with the wrong brand can negatively impact your reputation by association. When someone takes away your consent, they also take away your ability to choose which associations will help, and which will hinder your business.
3. A lack of consistency cheapens your aesthetic
Seeing a single post out of context decreases its value and prettiness. It may seem superficial, but let’s flip this on its head for a hot second. Some pretty solid, common, tried and tested advice is that Instagram grid posts are at their most effective when used as part of a consistent aesthetic and defined theme.
Every post just looks and works better when surrounded by similar greatness.
By taking your valuable Instagram content out of the context you have created, and surrounding it with a mish-mash, decreases that potential value. This again lessens the positive benefits to your small business.
4. It could open you up to a jar of licensing pickles
Photography, scene generators, mock-ups, graphic templates and more. These ruddy awesome tools enable creative businesses to produce lush content. And they pay for it.
We pay for it too, just like the scene creator we purchased from the wonderful Moyo Studio to create this Instagram post and a blog on 8 useful things to include in your Instagram bio for 2020.
View this post on Instagram
When someone reuses content that you’ve produced using licensed materials, they will not have the correct permissions which puts you in extra-toasty water. Let’s say someone shares this post on their Instagram grid, and our lovely collaborators at Moyo Studio spotted it on Instagram.
At best, we’ve created more work for their small business as they need to chase this account to see if they have purchased their own license. At worst, we’ve created a whole pickle of chasing, DMCA complaints, and hours down the drain.
5. Degradation lessens value and skews a point of view
Naughty people will use your content without permission. And other naughty people will use that naughty person’s content without permission. And even more naughty people will keep being naughty and well, you get it.
You become prone to content degradation as more and more people add their own spin and hideous filters. It can reflect poorly on your taste levels, professionalism and attention to detail.
What’s more, it can also change the meaning of a post. It’s surprisingly easy to edit an Instagram caption to totally change the meaning of the content creators intention.
6. It wastes a lot of your time
If you’re not a fan of peeps reducing the effectiveness and value of your content, or seeing it butchered with manky effects – you need to ask for it to be removed.
This takes time. Time that I’m sure you’d rather spend doing literally anything else. When you have layers upon layers of thievery, it’s even harder to monitor and manage. Your copycats will not have the attention to detail or wherewithal to protect the quality of your content, which is why a zero tolerance policy is often the only effective route for protecting the value of your Instagram content.
Here’s a transcription of the text contained within the screenshot above
Hi I’ve removed the post. Can you give me clarification why you did not want me to use it? I marked and tagged that it came from your business. I don’t understand in a world where we need to uplift and support each other’s small business that you felt it was appropriate?
You don’t owe an explanation
I can’t believe I got all the way to the end of this post without mentioning the screenshot that started it all, from the ‘female empowering’ small business that didn’t take kindly to my polite request to not use my content.
I have a zero-tolerance policy for any account that uses my Instagram content without permission. Each time I find a copied post, I leave the same comment:
I am flattered that you find my content valuable. However, you did not ask for permission, and you do not have consent to share it on your profile. Please could you remove it from your grid.
Here’s me officially giving you permission to use the same phrase for your copycat woes. Copy and paste away, bbz.
Most of the time, my regrammed Instagram posts are just removed. Occasionally, I’ll receive a super apologetic DM from someone who meant well.
This person took a different approach, attempting to make me the bad person for not ‘uplifting and supporting’ another small business.
The small business in question didn’t value my content enough to actually pay for it, or even ask to use it, but did value it enough to use it for their own gain.
They didn’t even value my content enough to have ever followed my account, leave a comment, or like a post.
What they don’t understand about this world of uplifting and supporting, is that it’s a two-way street. They wanted to uplift their business, with the support of my Instagram content, without regard for the implications to my own brand. And that does not fly with me.
For the record, I did clarify – and they blocked me. For the record, if someone takes your content – you don’t need to give them your time too.
But if you do want to give them a little insight for your peace of mind – send them a link to this blog post instead 😉