April 27, 2021

Can you create community in places like Instagram?

Rosie Sherry
So this question comes up often.

Would love to know the thoughts around communities being on Instagram. I don't see them as communities as the interaction is always to one person and more often than not one way. A community should be interactions in all directions amongst all members. Thoughts?
And when I say it comes up often, I don't just mean for 'Instagram'. I mean for any platform that isn't specifically labeled a community platform.

Replace Instagram with:

  • Twitter
  • Blogs
  • TikTok
  • Email
  • Wiki

Basically, anything that isn't labeled a community or a forum.

Can any of these things be community?


In an ideal world, we want our perfectly formed community. With people showing up where we want them to when we need them to, and with all that infectious enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, we live in the real world, which is messy and full of people with opinions, with preferences on tech they use, and increasingly very short attention spans.

So, in my opinion, where you can have conversations, you can have community. This doesn't mean that all conversations are community focused, but they can be.

A forum post is really a blog with comments. So if that is true, is Twitter just a micro forum? And what about Instagram?

Taking the Instagram example


You can certainly have community on Instagram. Most Instagram accounts are not community focused.

Lots of people gather around a hashtag, for example.

Or people host AMAs.

Or people meet and chat in the comments.

It's all possible to create community connections. People get to know each other. Follow one another. And often have private discussions via DMs.

Maybe it's far from ideal, for what we want as a community, but also these days sometimes you need to just have the conversations where people are at and figure out how to reach the place that you need to reach within the restrictions you have.

But a forum would be better


Yes, in an ideal world. But you need to understand that usually, the hardest part of building community is creating those conversations. It almost doesn't matter where they happen as long as they are happening.

โค๏ธ
—Rosie Sherry
  • This part stood out so well:

    "Unfortunately, we live in the real world, which is messy and full of people with opinions, with preferences on tech they use, and increasingly very short attention spans.

    So, in my opinion, where you can have conversations, you can have community. This doesn't mean that all conversations are community-focused, but they can be."

    The deeper I dive into the community rabbit hole, the less I'm tied to a platform. Yes it can impact your community, but if you're truly building relationships, your community will exist holistically beyond the individual platform.

    erinmikail · 6 months ago (edited)