Sharing Sunday: Instagram etiquette

Posted by Karin on March 21, 2021

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In today’s technology-driven world, politeness and etiquette often seem to go out the window. Let’s bring back respect with these 10 easy tips for Instagram etiquette. 

Personally, I have always believed in the value of etiquette. Not only does it show kindness and respect for another person, it sets the expectation that you, too, are deserving of the same in return. While the traditional thank you notes have been replaced with thank you texts, and photos, and paper invitations replaced with digital invitations, this does not mean that we should no longer show polite behavior such as thinking before we speak, respecting boundaries, and showing kindness. 

While they are most often non-negotiable in the “real” world, these simple decencies are often forgotten in the digital world. However, in my opinion, these unwritten rules of life and expected behaviors should most definitely carry over to social media. In fact, I would argue that they must in order to maintain healthy relationships and trust. Especially as it seems likely that social media platforms will remain one of the largest ways we continue to “socialize” now and in the future.  

As a newbie “influencer” I have seen the “comfortability” many have in regard to behavior they may not openly demonstrate if they weren’t behind a screen. However, keep in mind that while an influencer may choose to put themselves “out there,” their decision to do so does not mean they are not deserving of respect and basic manners. 

Now more than ever, it’s so important to show kindness in the world. In a time when we spend so much of our lives interacting with people virtually whether that be in work meetings, logged on for our child’s education, or typing away on social media, it is easy to feel alone. While it might be common for people to lash out at others, this isn’t going to help anyone. When was the last time you felt good about yourself after attacking the decisions of another? 

So, I’m asking you to help me in my endeavor to spread joy and happiness. Instead of tearing one another down and spewing hate from behind a keyboard, let’s all strive to create value and connection using the tips below! After all, how wonderful would the world be if we all lifted one another up?

we spend some much time interacting with people virtually. Whether a work meeting, our child’s class, or social media. Let’s all strive to create value and connection!

10 ways to Show Etiquette as an Instagram Follower:

1.      Direct Messages

Before just jumping into your favorite influencers inbox and demanding their time and attention, take a minute to say hello! Take a little time and introduce yourself and provide context for why you’re there or how you found them. Remember, influencers are people, too, and when you respond to a story or a post with a direct request or demand, whether intentional or not, it can come off as rude.

Think about it, most of us would not go up to someone we don’t know and ask for something without first introducing ourselves. The truth is, most influencers are there, because they love connecting! They want to hear from you. For instance, I know that when I am reading through my DMs and responding, I love genuinely engaging and hearing how someone might use a recommendation I gave, but I get overwhelmed being bombarded with messages like “Send me that link!” that seem cold and demanding. Instead, in order to sound openly, friendly, and appreciative, try sending something like: “Hey, new follower here! Love your rug so much, would you mind sharing the link? Thank you so much- I think it would look great in my space!” Chances are you’ll get more responses, and you might even build genuine connections! 

2. Always Give Credit

Just like you were taught in school, you shouldn’t take credit for other’s ideas. Copying a post, recipe, design, etc. is essentially plagiarism and can harm another’s business. In addition, as a creator, there is something so rewarding about knowing that you have inspired another to recreate your own ideas or use them as a springboard for their own. There’s nothing wrong with borrowing. After all, social media is meant to be used for sharing. However, if you are using another’s content, always be sure to tag and acknowledge them. Not only is it a way to show respect and appreciation, it is also a gracious way to expand their reach and bring their value to a new audience. 

3. Be Kind

While this rule is not really a shocking proclamation, it is so necessary. While a pretty picture or cute video might pop on your screen for a few seconds and seem insignificant, there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scened of creating. I’m talking hours on hours. People are often opening up and sharing very intimate details of their life and who they are with total strangers in hopes that other can cultivate value in what is being shared. 

Consequently, you can return their kindness in sharing by showing generous and thoughtful consideration of others. For example, if your comments, messages, or responses do not hold similar sentiments, perhaps they are not worth sharing. While you may disagree with a point or declaration someone makes, the old adage, it’s not what you say, but how you say it most definitely applies to social media. So, in case you forgot, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all. Just click out and move on. I promise you, you’ll feel a lot better about taking this action than wasting time writing a negative or mean comment. 

4. Actively Support Your Favorite Influencers

The truth is, the majority of the content influencers share is free. However, social media is often how people make a living and pay their bills. Therefore, as a way to show your gratitude and support to your favorite influencers, be sure to use their affiliate links which cost you nothing and support their growth. In addition, engaging with an influencer’s content through saving posts, sharing them on your feed, commenting, leaving reviews, rating recipes, and more is an extremely gracious act that is greatly valued in the world of social media. These simple gestures are the easiest way to support those you feel provide you value and joy. However, as with anything, be authentic. Only take these steps when the content truly resonates with you. That way, influencers will know what to produce more of and can provide even more value to you and others. 

5. Do Not Alter Or Edit Work That Is Not Your Own

Referring back to my plagiarism point, it is never okay to edit or alter photographs others have taken and use them as your own. To be blunt, this is stealing, and if others find out (they always do), it can harm your own account by making you seem untrustworthy. So, if you are adapting another’s content, do the kind thing, and always source them as the original creator. 

6. Be Patient

Being an influencer myself (I cringe at that phrase), I can say that the majority of influencers I personally follow, seem to do their best to genuinely and actively engage with their audience while also keeping up with their own messages. However, while I do not have the largest of followings on Instagram, I receive upwards of 200 messages a day, and even more on weekends. In an effort to get back to everyone, I set aside time (usually in the evening when the kids are down) to respond. However, doing so can become overwhelming, and it is nearly impossible to reach everyone. If your message is pressing, always feel free to bump your message if it’s not something that might be found on their blog, story highlights, or even on Google. Also, many influencers link their email on their page. Of course, don’t spam them, but if you truly need something, this can be an easy and respectful way to reach out. 

7. Provide Honest And Kind Feedback

If you do not care for, or agree for something that is shared, it is your choice how you respond, or even if you respond at all. The beauty of social media is that you can curate your interests, hobbies, and passions. If you find that you really want to know more about an influencer’s opinion or stance, gracefully inquire using the sandwich method. To do so, start by providing a compliment or connection. Then, ask your question, and follow it with another nicety or kind comment. 

Example: “I love following along with all your home projects, your kitchen remodel was my favorite! If you don’t mind, can you elaborate as to why you chose to share about that product, as the brand has recently shared their stance on such and such. I follow you, because I value what you share and would really like to understand your perspective. Thank you!” 

Be sure not to attack the person you are messaging. Remember, shame-based messages are not real conversations, and lead to absolutely nothing productive. This point goes back to what I mentioned earlier, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. If you have followed someone for a long time, find value in their content, and genuinely enjoy them don’t just jump to a conclusion based on a snapshot. Instead, make an effort to ask and understand. Personally, I would much rather have someone ask a genuine question rather than assume and make hurtful or rude comments.

8. Do I Stay Or Do I Go Now?

If you do not care for something that an influencer shares, it is your decision whether you continue to follow them or stay on their page. You have the power to control what you see on your feed, and just like all people don’t always get along, you won’t always love what someone chooses to share. However, this does not mean you have a right to be rude or disrespectful. Taking the time to write something cruel, unkind, or to announce an unfollow is unkind and not necessary. Of course, if you see something that appears to be illegal or harmful to others, take the appropriate steps to report them to authorities. Otherwise, leave quietly and gracefully. It’ll be a lot less sweat off your back. 

9. Authenticity

As said before, please always be authentic when commenting on posts. As someone who creates, there is nothing better than hearing how inspired or brought goodness (even through a recipe) to someone else’s life. I would take 1 genuine positive comment over 1,000 fake ones. 

10. Engage

If you truly enjoy the content being shared – be sure to engage with it! This is hands-down the best way to help an influencer out. You can like, comment, save, and share a post to show your love! 

Get More Out of Social Media

Pro Tip: If you truly want to get the most out of your time on social media, be sure to follow a variety of accounts! The world is so full of diversity, using social media is a great way to broaden your knowledge, learn about different cultures, find inspiration, and so much more! 

So, there you have it, ten of the easiest ways to show genuine kindness and respect on Instagram (and the internet as a whole) and a tip to get more out of social media. Will you join me in my effort to spread a little joy? Also, do you have any tips I missed or thoughts you’d like to share? I’d love to talk about them in the comments below! 

If you like this post, be sure to tune in to my Instagram for even more joy! I’d love it if you tagged me in posts, commented, or connected. I’ll look forward to seeing you there. 

In the meantime, enjoy! 


P.S. This page may contain affiliate links. Of course, you’re not obligated to use them, but I appreciate the love if you do!

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Karin with her first 2 boys

I’m Karin (Ka-Rin), a cooking, photography and interior design enthusiast sharing my love of delicious food, humor, pretty things and capturing beauty in everyday moments.

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I love this post! I just made my 2 teenagers read it too – we have tried to teach them to be thoughtful & kind people and I hope they will carry this over into social media too. Thank you!

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