Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

When to tag people in social media photos and when not to

Disclaimers: The information provided is for informational purposes only and not personalized advice. It's accurate to the best of my knowledge at the time it's published. Links in articles maybe affiliate or sponsored links.

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Tagging people in social media photos can extend the reach of those photos, which is likely why some of us want to tag everyone and their brother – so to speak. 

But be careful with tagging people who are not actually in the photo. It could be considered spam or at least annoying. See, even when you upload a photo to Twitter, it doesn’t say:

Who should see this picture?

It says: 

Who’s in this photo?


Some people, however, can “get away” with tagging people who aren’t in a photo. Here are the items usually at play: 

  • They have an established relationship. 
  • The content shared is highly relevant to the person tagged. 

A good litmus test is what the person tagged does:

  • If they untag themselves, the tag was inappropriate. 
  • If they like, comment or share in a positive way it was appropriate. 
  • If they unfollow or block the tagger that’s really not a good sign. You’ve overdone it. 

It all depends on the relevance of the content, timing and maturity of the relationship. 

If some brand I don’t know tags me because they want to reach all of you through me, that’s often spammy. 

Recommended reading: Everyone is an influencer to somebody. 

In general, I would recommend to only tag people in photos – no matter the network (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter all allow it) – when people are actually in them.

Once you have identified a passionate group for a topic you might try tagging people here and there to make sure they saw the content.  Gauge their reactions and adjust as necessary. 

On a personal note, I only tag people when they are in the photo. For example,  I posted this Tuesday quote to Twitter below:


And as you can see, the invitation to tag people is right there. It’s so tempting and I could think of a few people who might appreciate seeing this today. But I don’t know for sure, so I didn’t tag them. 


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Christoph Trappe

Hello and thanks for stopping by. I'm Christoph Trappe and I'm the Vice President of Content Marketing Strategy, Americas, at ScribbleLive, which is based in Toronto and is a global content marketing software company. Before I started at ScribbleLive I was VP of Content Marketing and Conversion at MedTouch, a Boston-based company that helps healthcare organizations with digital marketing. I've written two books, speak at conferences around the globe and blog frequently on here. I love sharing my stories and helping organizations share theirs. If you need help, just visit the Contact Me page in the navigation and drop me a note. I'm always happy to chat! Thanks for reading! - Christoph ctrappe@christophtrappe.com 319-389-9853

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