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Social Media Etiquette

Etiquette - Noun - the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.

Disclaimer - Everything in this blog post is only my opinion, how I feel and how I choose to conduct myself. I am speaking based on 15 years of social media interactions with all kinds of people and businesses. This blog is not intended for social media accounts who have millions of followers, this blog is for the everyday people like myself who choose to log in each day, post our content and support our peers.

I've been on social media for roughly 15 years going back to 2009'ish. Over this time I've seen the conduct change drastically. I've also watched the content that's posted on social media change, as well as the amount of content we are now exposed to.

If you've followed me or any of my pages over the years you know that I just stick to what I know. Most of my accounts are photography related and in the very beginning my instagram account was fitness based. I don't ever talk about money, politics or religion with anyone, not only online, but even very rarely with my friends. This post isn't about any of those things and the reason I mention them is because there is a lot of content on our social media platforms about them and we all have our opinions and views towards each of them.

What I want to discuss is how we interact with the content we see. When is a comment needed, how do we comment. Sharing, tagging, collabs ect... To some this may seem silly and a waste of time. I feel it's a good reminder for all of us to make the areas we frequent on social media a better place for all. For the purpose of this blog, i'll be talking about photography and my experience with this in the photography community. I feel these basic concepts will apply to any subject matter/topic where you dip your toes. Let's dive in with some simple rules.

First and foremost be authentic -

Don't stray from who you really are. You know your likes, dislikes, what makes you happy and what triggers you. Stay true to you. I like the quote "your vibe will attract your tribe". This is very true, it may not happen overnight but eventually it will happen if you're consistent in the content you post/comment on. The very same is true going the other way. If I were to suddenly switch back to posting fitness related images, I am sure I would lose a lot of followers because that's not what they signed up to see. Over time, i'd reconnect with the people who wanted to see fitness posts. People find content they like and then follow that content.

Post content that makes YOU happy -

Don't post/create content that you think others will like just to get more likes/comments/follows. If you don't like it or it isn't really your thing, don't post it. We have to stay true to ourselves and i'll tell you why. In the early years of social media almost all our content was being seen by almost all our followers/friends if they were logged in that day. There wasn't nearly the content back then as there is today. Today, there is simply too much content and it's almost impossible to show my picture that I posted to all 30K instagram followers if each of them also follows another 1-2k people. The logistics don't work even in the most realistic sense. So post/create what makes you happy.

Working with/for companies & businesses -

If a company wants to work with you, be sure they are in line with the content you create and that they are asking you to create content that works for both your platforms and their business. By doing this it will show your audience that you are authentic and stand by the work you do with the products you use. If an company reaches out to me in hopes of some sort of collab, I'll be very upfront with them about what I do and how I choose to post it for my audience to see. If their products are something I don't/won't use, I'll let them know that too so that we are not wasting each other's time. It's been my experience over the years that when I share something on any of my platforms that isn't a normal part of my content, it gets very few views/likes/comments. Companies see follower count and if that number is fairly high they think you can help them reach more people by sharing their product or service. The opposite is almost always true, the numbers of views/likes/comments generally goes down.

The above are a few basic rules I like to follow from the view of me being the one doing the work. As the person sitting at the computer deciding what to post next. Now let's jump into the other side of the pool where we are the one reading/viewing the content. This is where I have some very strong thoughts and opinions.

Be nice - Say something nice or don't say anything at all (in public view)

Each morning we wake up, log in and start our day. Many of us will be exposed to all kinds of content during the day. We choose to interact or scroll on by based on what we see. In my news feeds I see a lot of photography, some good, some not so good, some great, some horribly wrong. I pick and choose what I want to comment on and 99% of the time I say something simple and nice about the image if it's an image I enjoy. We're not writing essays in the comments. Simple is enough to let the creator know you enjoy the image.

Critique in Private - Send a DM

And only then, do so with people you know will be receptive to your opinions. If I see an image that looks good but maybe has a few editing flaws, I take a step back, just for a moment and ask myself a couple questions. 1. do I know this person? 2. would they be receptive to a suggestion/critique? If the answer is yes to both then I may send a DM asking a bit more about the image, how it was created and what editing software they may have used. Be polite about it and be very sure this person would be ok with it before you jump right in. I'll generally say, "hey, I loved your shot of (insert location) but I had a couple questions about the final outcome. Are you open to suggestions? This will give me a clear view of where I stand with this person and if I should voice my opinions or not. Now if a person makes a post and asks something like, "Which one do you like better and why?" then it's free game. Just be honest without being mean.

Asking for location information -

This is a big one for me as I get these several times a day. The one I get the most is a comment that reads, "Where is this?" and that's it. It's always from someone I don't know at all and hasn't read the description of the post. This is not the correct way to ask for location information. The best way to ask someone for location info is to simply DM them saying something nice about their image and inquire about a general location. I feel more people will be receptive to this rather than a comment that just simply asks, "Where is this?" Usually, I will just delete these comments. I am almost always willing to share locations with others if they have something to share with me. I'm happy to trade locations with friends and people I've interacted with. In the case of old abandoned places, we like the keep the locations on the down low because of bad actors out there.

Asking for EXIF data -

I have never understood this question - "What's the Exif for this image?" This question really means nothing and this isn't the way to go about getting the info from the creator. If I told you the image was shot at 100 ISO, F8, 1/125 second OR 200 ISO, F/10, 1/250th second what would you do with this info? Each scene/subject you place in your cameras view will be shot differently depending on a lot of different factors. The better way to ask about shooting settings is to be more specific. "Hey, I love the texture in the water you captured, may I ask what your shutter speed was?" This will give you info you can work with if you're shooting a similar scene. Another one could be this, "your image has such amazing depth of field, did you use hyperfocal or focus stacking to accomplish this?

The way we ask for/about something can be the determining factor as to if we will even get a response or not.

Pick & Choose -

If you see something you don't like or don't agree with, it's ok to just keep scrolling and not have an interaction with it. There are 2 sides to every post.. The person who posted it & the viewer. If I see something I don't like, it doesn't do me or them any good if I make a comment telling them why it's wrong, not right, fake ect.. It would make me look bad to the others who see the post and because we never know what others are going through it may push them over an edge they're standing on. (figuratively speaking). Also, in a community like photography, there are a lot of newcomers each day who want to learn. Don't say mean things.

Sharing and Tagging - Be supportive

This is one we love the most, when it's done right! We all love to see others who enjoy our work enough to share it with their friends/fans/followers. However, there are a lot of assumptions that aren't always true. I could get into this pretty deep because there are a few technical things specific to each platform but I won't go down that rabbit hole now.

When you're sharing the work of others on any platform, be sure to write a little something about why you're sharing so your audience knows your "why" behind it. Tag the person whose work you shared. This will notify them and they can see how it was shared and thank you for doing so. Every now and then I'll do what I call "Share Blasts" on instagram where I'll find a bunch of images from various photographers and I'll share them to my stories, tag the artist and give a little description of why I loved the image. This is a great community builder and not once has anyone been mad at me for doing so. If you want more info on properly sharing/tagging for each platform please ask and I'll be happy to help.

Showing support comes in many different ways. Just "liking" a post shows support. I do this a lot for the people I'm close to and see in person on a regular basis. Then when I see them we can often talk about the images or posts. Commenting is a great way to let others know your feelings about an image in a public form. Sharing is caring. Share to show support, share to share info (maybe companies you work with)

Don't Complain - Stay Positive

I am seeing more and more of this each day and it's worrisome. Complaining about things on the internet will not solve the issues you're complaining about. I am mostly seeing this from people who are upset about their reach on FB and IG. Posting on X or Threads about the lack of reach or interactions you're getting on FB and IG is not going to solve the issue. It's not like the heads of those companies are just going to wake up one day and change everything back to how it was 10 yrs ago, they can't. Even if they did, let's just imagine they decided they would show all content to all followers (or at least put it in your newsfeed). Darren (me) has 30K followers on IG and each one of those followers follows 500-2000 other accounts. Even if only 500 of those 2000 people posted that day, are you going to scroll through 500 images in a single session? Maybe you would, but I am guessing most won't. So you put your phone down and go back to work for another 4 hours. When you get home you decided to scroll through IG again and now another 849 people have posted. So my post I posted at 6am is not being seen by anyone because it's too far down in everyone's newsfeed. Timing is crucial as we want to post when we feel most people are online. The fact is simply this - there is too much content to share to everyone. My suggestion for IG is go through the accounts you follow, unfollow all the accounts you don't interact with, click the bell next to the name of the accounts you don't want to miss. This will send you a notification each time they post.

I understand we all have a lot going on and being a part of the social media conglomerate isn't an easy thing to do at times, yet here we are. We really need to focus on us and decide how we can make our social media experience better for both us and others. I do believe that social media is partly responsible for mental health issues in a lot of people. Whether diagnosed or not, it plays on our emotions based on our choices and how we interact. I'd personally rather hear about people getting help and talking to friends (privately) or with a counselor/therapist who will listen and help them work through these things rather than to them come onto social media and complain to an empty void about things that are beyond their control.

Hopefully these are some things we can all remind ourselves of when we are on social media to help make it a better experience for everyone.

Thank you for taking the time to read, have a great day & see you on the web.



Great thoughts to consider, and be considerate. Thanks!

Apr 19
Replying to

Thanks Phil! Glad you enjoyed it


Thanks, Darren, good advice!

Apr 19
Replying to

Thanks Tony. Thank for taking the time to read


Great topic and a necessary periodic reminder. Back in the early days of socmed we would hold classes on techniques similar to these always reminding folks that what you put out there and how you interact defines you to your audience. You are building and reinforcing your brand. Managing your reputation.

Apr 19
Replying to

Thanks Tony!!! Appreciate the kind words!! Let’s go shoot.

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