Social media and the Truth Behind Image Plagiarism

It can be personal.

For many business owners, it’s taken them hours to compose the images that reflect their brand. There’s and likely a hefty investment in the photographer who captured the images.

Unfortunately, because of the nature of social media, content is reposted or reshared by others accounts and often passed off as their own. It’s a hard pill to swallow as you’ve been working so hard to keep your content fresh, and then stumble on your work or images. No credit is given, and it’s YOUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.

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I’ve been here, and I admit to accidentally omitting a credit or just not realizing who the original author was. Much of the time due to images being reshared, it was easy to assume the account posting was the original author.

On the flip side, I realize that not all accounts that reshare content are trying to steal it. They are likely inspired and forget to credit. I have found the easiest way to address this is with a nudge. Letting the account owner know that the image belongs to a client or me, and to be sure to tag/credit the image.

Here are a few of my thoughts on how to manage image etiquette on Social Media, especially if you’ve been the victim:

It’s A compliment
I realize this might be a bit of a stretch but pause for a moment. You’re feeling REALLY heated and likely hurt, but understand the marketplace we are functioning in! Many accounts online are seeking and sharing inspiration, and they’ve stumbled on to yours, and love it! It means your content is JUICY, so take it as a massive compliment.

They’re NOT the Experts
The accounts resharing your content are not the ones landing record sales or clients. Many are fumbling their way through, and still, don’t have a plan in place that forces them to invest in their business. The most harm they can do is really to themselves because you already have an established brand in the marketplace - and your audience already knows you’re the go-to expert.

It’s Your Original Work
There’s something about original work that stands-out! One look at a picture, with a specific filter, and you can generally pinpoint the high-level work someone has put into it.  There are identifiable objects in images or styles, and with digital marketing being such a small network, it’s super easy for me to spot colleagues’ images.

Asking for Credit
Yes, you’re going to need to take a moment to compose yourself. Message the account that’s reshared your content that it’s your image or work and that they need to post-credits for it. I realize that it can feel uncomfortable, but unless you own your worth no one’s going to do it for you! Social media is just one of those grey areas, in that if you don’t speak up, it goes unpunished, and many accounts are frauded out of content due to plagiarism. The same goes for sharing someone else’s work, tagging them is both respectful and reflects highly on your account.

Keep the Content Coming
No, this isn’t the moment to set your account on private and GIVE UP. If anything, keep creating that kickass content that’s helped you to get noticed. After all, you wouldn’t be creating the content if you weren’t passionate about sharing your story or message, so keep at it!

Looking for Support?
As for anyone that is struggling to come up with original content, I would be happy to chat about strategies and solutions to help you out of this funk. I do believe that when we show up authentically online, our audience notices, and as a result, our brands experience the growth we’ve been seeking.

Send me an email hello@wearecatalyst.ca or book a brand activation call, and let’s have you start posting your own images!