How to handle social media copycats
We have all been there before. You may be scrolling through your Instagram feed and suddenly notice that your photo has been used without your permission. Or maybe you notice that one of your followers is now advertising a product identical to your own.
When this happens to you, these are the thoughts that may be running through your head:
-“Oh, no! She posted my picture without my permission and now she is going to get tons of followers from the blood, sweat, and tears I put into creating that product and taking that photo. Whyyyyy???” (This is actually against Instagram policies and you should report it immediately if they refuse to take down your photo.)
-“What? That dude has been following me for weeks and now he is making the exact same felt floral headband that I make. His looks much worse and he clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing, but still. What if he takes hold of the felt floral headband market and makes my business obsolete. Whyyyyy???”
-“Wait a minute, that lady is ripping off my photo styling techniques! I always paint my nails daffodil yellow, wear a mood ring, and insert my hand into each photo at a slight angle. My signature style will make her a millionaire and I will be living with my parents. Whyyyyy???”
It really does suck when this happens. I have a private Facebook group, Creative Biz Owners with Little Farm Media, and this topic comes up a lot. Sometimes all it takes to make you feel better is a little venting. Other times, it just makes you feel worse. I have been through this scenario many times myself and here’s what worked for me. Obviously, this is not legal advice and I am not a lawyer. Just wanted to throw that in here.
5 THINGS THAT WORKED FOR ME
1. It’s okay to be pissed. Don’t try to talk yourself out of feeling upset right away, but do take some time to calm down before taking action.
2. Give them the benefit of the doubt. The truth is, sometimes someone will inadvertently copy you or is just completely unaware of ethical reposting behaviors. Maybe they don’t realize it isn’t cool/against policy to repost without asking first and DEFINITELY not without crediting. Maybe they spend their whole day looking for inspiration on Instagram, got obsessed with your feed, and unknowingly decided to try out some of your techniques.
3. Send them a private message. If someone reposts your photos without permission, I feel this is the best approach. Whether or not they knew what they did was wrong, they will most likely take it down to avoid any trouble.
4. Do not call them out publicly on social media. One time I did that (I’m not gonna lie) it felt really good. However, it is very unprofessional and if you keep calling people out then people will think you’re a weirdo. If you have already called someone out publicly, it’s okay. Like I said, I’ve done it before and everyone has since moved on.
5. Keep it moving. If you are a one trick pony and someone copies you then you might be screwed. Lucky for you, your brain is filled with boatloads of creativity. Keep those copycats in your shadow by forging ahead with new ideas. Kari Chapin gave me really great advice one time, which was that those copycats will never be successful until they find their own voice. I sort of didn’t believe her at the time (sorry, Kari), but I have now seen this scenario play out so many times that I know it to be true.
About Caitlin Bacher and Little Farm Media:
Caitlin Bacher is the bosslady at Little Farm Media, offering social media consulting and e-courses for creative businesses. Download her FREE eBook, “How I Gained 1,000 Pinterest Followers In One Month,” right here.