There are plenty of amazing looking Instagram accounts out there which rely on reposted content, including fashion brand accounts. While many credit the account they found the content on, they original content creator may be lost in translation.
Typically, many consumers feel that user-generated content (UGC) is more trustworthy than branded content. This means the photo you post of an excellent looking martini with a #TGIF caption makes your followers trust your brand more than the brand-generated pictures or pictures of your products. Other examples of UGC include brand communities with branded hashtags - for example when fashion brands ask their shoppers to post pictures of them in their purchased clothing. It's influencer marketing and content creation, but for free! And that is the upside, utilising UGC is often far cheaper than generating your own content, especially when social media is often still seen as a sidebar to marketing, and run on a shoe-string budget.
The downside of this is that many photographers or stylists are having their content shared all over Instagram without any credit. While this may seem like a good deal from the outside (more exposure = good, right?) content creators require acknowledgement, and to combat the unauthorised sharing some have begun charging fees for photo reposts by for-profit organisations.
So what is the best way to go about reposting content? If you have a branded hashtag, users may be implicitly agreeing that you can share their photos - but it is still advisable to get an explicit agreement, to avoid any complications later on. A comment on the original photo may be enough (and will be a great look for your brand).
For a photographer or content creator not affiliated with your brand, send them a message and enquire - then you will be required to add a photo credit tag to the original creator. While this might seem like a lengthy process just for one photo, 65% of photographers will grant permission within the first 24 hours after sending a message, so brands have a good chance of being able to use photos if they ask in advance.
In many cases, the potential for negative PR is reason enough to take the time to ask for permission. Brands who don't tag the creator risk losing customers if the content creator decides to make it public that the brand is using their content without permission. Additionally, brands run the risk of gaining a bad reputation among photographers and creatives who feel like they have been burned by brands.