Creating, sharing a hobby or running a business in the age of electronic media is a delicate matter, both for the artist and for those viewing or sharing his or her work. It’s important to credit designers and artists for their hard work and talents, while also expressing a love for art and creativity, in general, and promoting an atmosphere of sharing, in which creativity is fostered in others. Social media is an excellent means by which to spread inspiration, with a far-reaching audience, including an endless array of interests and talents. This massive collection of creative individuals, however, also results in its own set of complications, so I’ve compiled a list of what has been, in my experience, the do’s and don’ts of social sharing. Please feel free to discuss these points or add your own in the comments below.
DO always credit your source. If you find an image online and would like to share it, do so from the source, by linking. Links to an artists website or store front help the artist improve Google search ranking. Always make an effort to name designers or stores or brands, when sharing their products.
DO always credit the design to its designer. If you’ve purchased a tutorial, and made a product or piece from those instructions, even if deviating from the design, it’s polite (important even) to always credit the designer wherever and whenever your item is posted online. The same piece can be posted on five social networking sites, and the design should be credited in each instance. This helps spread awareness of the designer, which allows him or her to continue to provide quality lessons. When design credit is not listed, the cycle of sharing is broken.
DO NOT download the images or artwork of others to your own hard drive, mobile or electronic device. Often, when this habit is perpetuated, design credit is lost, and the image is re-circulated online without a proper source. This cheats the designer and the customer, who might wish to search for other work. Link, link, link, and share from the source. Bookmark the page or image and save a file of those bookmarks for future reference.
DO NOT edit the images or artwork of others, without permission from the artist or owner (unless when using free-use images). Memes… I’m looking at you! You know that beautiful photo of a tiny puppy in a tea cup? You know how that might make you want to edit the phrase “If I fits, I sits” all over that image? Please don’t, and I’ll tell you why. Photographers can spend hours finding the perfect location, scouting the perfect models, editing the 129 images of the same scene to find the perfect, holy grail of shots. Painters spend days building a scene on their canvas, and an equally labor-intensive time photographing and editing images of their work. Essentially, by editing phrases or poetry over the images of others, regardless of intent or charm or sentimental value, you are defacing their work. Please respect the time and talents of artists and photographers and request permission to alter the image.
DO NOT get upset when conversation is not reciprocated. At a cocktail party, it’s generally considered rude to walk away from a person who began a conversation with you, but when 97 people also began a conversation with you, I think it’s safe to assume it’s an oversight.
Pinterest DO NOT pin a product to your Do It Yourself or DIY board, unless the product or design is clearly intended for use by others. Posting a product or image online is not equivalent to “fair use”. and most products are intended to be purchased ready-to-use, not pinned as ready-to-make. For the sake of etiquette, rename your DIY boards as “Inspiration Boards”, instead, and draw creativity from the source, but do not mimic the source, unless so intended by the creator.
DO personalize the description on all pins. You can do this from laptops, desktops and mobile device apps. When an item is re-pinned, the description with it (from the previous or original pinner) carries over to the current pin. For instance, I pinned an image of a beautiful photograph without having realized the description read “I’m totally going to remove the watermark, print it myself and hang this in my room!” So… theft, essentially. And there was no indication the description wasn’t my own! So read pin descriptions carefully and edit accordingly. More importantly, research the source, and edit to reference it.
Facebook DO NOT tag indiscriminately. Make sure the tag is relevant to the person being tagged. Sarah may love wire wrap jewelry, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she wants to be tagged in every photo of jewelry I post, despite my (ahem….often self-congratulatory) pride. Even in the ether of the internet, personal space is still a commodity closely held by many, and it’s important to respect the idea of space and, just as important, time. Often, with hundreds of likes per user, news feeds and the notification tabs are busy enough with posts and pages the user chose to see (and some Facebook chooses the user to see!), so an additional influx of tagged notifications can be frustrating.
DO NOT request “likes for likes”, unless where there is a thread or forum specifically for this purpose. I know, it seems like sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the crowd, and the best way to build an audience is to farm for likes. But likes given only under the prerequisite of reciprocation do neither the giver nor the receiver any good. And here’s why…. traffic to and from Facebook business pages is decided on two main factors: the content of a page, and the genuine interaction it receives. Though a “like for likes” campaign may generate followers, it does not generate fans or traffic. It’s important to build these relationships naturally and genuinely and to like pages and products, in your opinion, deserving of it.
DO NOT spam the business pages of others. I promise there are a whole collective of page owners who have done it, and most without a nefarious bone in their body. Somewhere along the line, just past the building-a-business starting gate, we’ve trolled the active business pages of others, dropping a link to our website or Facebook page, hoping for a boost to our numbers. It happens. But, like the previous suggestion, this doesn’t generate genuine interaction and, in some cases, can even get you banned by users, which is a sad happenstance that benefits no one.
DO engage with pages, artists and businesses you’ve liked. The more you engage, the more informed you’ll be on new updates. Though clicking that “like” button is a fabulous way to express support for an idea, sentiment or project, conversing about it is even better, and will guarantee posts from the page continue to appear in your feed.
DO (as previously mentioned) always credit designers, in every instance when applicable, even in cases of derivative or “inspired by” looks.
Twitter Quite frankly, Twitter and Tumbler confound me. Just… um… don’t get upset when I fail to reply to your tweet. Because I don’t know how. It’s shameful, I know. I should really learn to Twitter better. But if you have Twitter etiquette, please share it below!
Now, I know social media can be overwhelming. Many juggle a dozen social platforms a day, and do so swimmingly. Some, however (myself included), sometimes feel as though they’ve been dropped in a foreign country with a translate app that’s failed to work. Eeep! But despite the confusion, social media and social sharing can be a fun and beneficial experience. Excuse yourself the mistakes, and aim to fix them. It’s the best any of us can do!