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Follow for follow? Like for like?

Do you fish for pictures? Neither do I.

#followforfollow #likeforlike.  When I started with this social media world 3 years ago I had no idea what those things meant!  Don't worry.  I have translated them into the Queen's English for you.  It means this: Hey, uhhhhh, I don't have any good content on my social media platform (specifically Instagram) so I'll like yours if you like mine.  Is this like a co-ed gym class in 9th grade?  Shouldn't people just see the content you put out into the world wide interwebs and decide whether or not they like it or not?  Nope.  This is a world of non-original content and asking for likes.  See below.

From the diary of a habitual re-poster: 
There are days when I stay up until the early morning scanning my phone for THE shot to post.  You know, you have to be in the right place at the right time to get the right picture and you have to have dedication to pull it off.  One morning I just finished with another DirecTV sales call (yes I'm awesome) and my manager turned her back long enough for me to launch Instagram...  There it was.  The queen mother of all social media fodder - A super hot chick holding a giant Brook Trout!  I had been practicing my screen captures all day so it was mere muscle memory to capture this beauty.  I could contact the original account to ask if they are cool with me posting their image, but I NEED likes right NOW!!!  Picture up, and look at this - I just gained 15 followers and 100 likes in 10 minutes!!  This is exactly like fishing for rising fish - but better - I think anyway.

Picture of an actual PRP
This must be what goes through the mind of the Pure Re-Poster (otherwise known as the PRP).  Re-posting is actually a cool part of social media, and I really don't have issues with it if it's done the right way.  Hell, we even re-post pictures all the time if the picture is representative of our "end-game" which is to help people tie better flies so they can catch fish.  Tie a great fly based on our patterns?  yep.  Catch a nice fish with one of our patterns hanging out of it's meaty grill?  Even better.  What we don't do is Purely Re Post content, in other words, our media channels consist of 95% original content, and 5% re-posts from our followers.

Don't get me wrong... There are good pages out there that do a great job bringing the latest and greatest from the fishing/tying industry, and they are good because they are updated by well respected members of the community.  They aren't just scavenging pictures on Instagram so they can get likes; they share relevant material that they think their followers will gain value from.  They also add many original posts and pictures that I look forward to. I consider these sites valuable, and they most definitely don't fall into the category of a PRP.  

We started our site mostly to share information on tying flies and getting our patterns and recipes out there.  In all honesty, I was tired of sending out the recipe for the Cheech Leech for the hundred billionth time, or maybe just the 50 billionth, but it was a lot.  We made a few videos and started posting stuff on social media, and like many other tying/fishing sites, we were trying to gain as many followers as we could.  We found a page on Facebook (that no longer exists) that offered us a post on their page if we gave them 2 dozen low fat minnows for a giveaway.  Their page had 40K followers!!!  We did it and we got lots of likes, but were those organic/quality likes, or were they likes from the give-me-something-free crowd?  As we became more familiar with social media, we realized that there were TONS of pages out there that existed purely based on re-posts from other pages.  On Facebook, it's kind of hard to take off with this approach because it's a bit more interactive, but on Instagram where it's based mostly on imagery, these PRP pages were off to the races!!!  Mega followers for zero original content!  This is genius!!

The question I have is this: What is the point???  If all you do is spend all day trolling pictures to put on your page, are you looking for likes? Sponsorships? Marketing dollars?  Hot babes with fancy creams and lotions? I don't get it.  Regardless of what the end game is in this PRP business, at least be courteous while you are furthering your page by using someone else's work.  If a page contacts us and asks if they can use our image, more than 99% of the time I'll give them permission.  Other pages tell people to tag them in their pictures with a unique hashtag to "pre-approve" some of this PRP business.  The two types of PRP that I absolutely can't stand on Instagram (I'm sure they exist on other platforms too) are the pages that give you credit but don't ask permission, and the pages that flat out steal images and credit them as their own.  I recently had a brilliant exchange with a page that posted one of our images without asking permission.  I was "on one" so I commented on the image something to the effect of "What is the point of your page."  This apparently didn't go over too well with the page owner and several snide remarks went back and forth, so I requested that the image be removed from his page.  My point??  If you are going to act like a salty and vinegary cleaning device, I have no interest in letting you use my image to further your fake site. Period.  My comments were deleted and the picture remained until I employed a covert task force that consisted of a contest, the FFF #prostaff, and the Rattlebass.  The picture was removed and I was blocked from the page and the owner couldn't understand why I wouldn't want all of this "free" marketing.

In another instance, there was a kid that was posing as a Simms pro and Orvis endorsed guide (well WHOOPTY friggin doooooo) and was trying to gather up free crap for posting something to his page.  Upon further research, he was stealing images of flies and claiming them as his own.  That might work if you aren't stealing images from one of the most renowned tyers in the WORLD...  A tyer who has a very distinct skill set, and ties flies that are so good that you immediately recognize them as his patterns.  That would be like a 6th grader going to his teacher with a Van Gogh and claiming it as his own.  Taskforce 6 was deployed again, and he begrudgingly took the images down.  I was proud of one of my comments to him "Just because you have LeBron's jersey, it doesn't make you LeBron."  (I'll be here all week to sign autographs)  He said that he gave credit where credit was due, but he only added the original tyer's initials.  Weak sauce Mr. Pro Orvis Simms Patagonia Massengill.

There really aren't any legal ramifications for being a PRP,  but if you go about it the wrong way, it does not shine very positively on you from an ethical standpoint (see salty and vinegary).  If you are a PRP there is help:  Turn off your phone, grab a camera, go outside, go fishing, take pictures.  See?  It's a bit of work to get good content!  Maybe I'm blowing this way out of context, but maybe I'm not.