How to build your Instagram community – Key takeaways from Social Media Week Bristol 2018

Earlier this week, I went along to Social Media Week Bristol, to hear from Instagram authority Jess Siggers on how to build an Instagram community.

Jess is a UK-based photographer, content creator/Instagram influencer, consultant and community manager. Her Instagram page, @porthjess has more than 43k followers. Jess also runs @igersbristol which is Bristol’s official Instagram network, sharing beautiful photos of Bristol to 20k+ followers.

Here are my key takeaways from the talk “Fifty Ways To Build Your Instagram Community – 2018 Edition”. These tips can be applied to both personal and business Instagram accounts:

Setting up

1) First up, answer why are you on Instagram? What’s the purpose, what type of community do you want to build and how will you be different from other accounts? Choose a theme to create a cohesive look for your content. Need help to select a theme? Consider a maximum of five words that describe you or your brand and how you want to appear to others.

2) Give your Instagram account a name or handle that is recognisable so that people can easily find you. If your name is already take, adding “UK” or your city after your chosen name is a good choice. Ensure your name is consistent with your other social media accounts.

3) As above, ensure consistency across different channels – use the same profile photos that represent you or your business well across social media, websites and directories.

4) In your bio, add keywords and consider using a branded hashtag.

5) If you’re setting up an Instagram business page, you must first have a Facebook business page. The benefits of having an Instagram business page is that you can access loads of statistics, such as top posts from the previous two years, when your followers are the most active (so that you know the best time to post), etc.

6) There is only one place on Instagram where you can place a clickable URL – this is on the bio so make it count! Do not be tempted to include URLs in posts.

7) Your Instagram account will naturally evolve over time so do review your posts every six months to check whether your content still accurately represents what you are trying to convey to your community. You can delete posts or save them to Instagram Archive.  This temporarily removes the posts from your profile – meaning that you can bring posts back at a later date if you want to.

8) Be brutal about who you’re following – it must be people or businesses who inspire you and content must be relevant to your community.

The Instagram algorithm

9) Engagement – don’t post content and then leave it. Reply to the people who comment. Building a community takes time. You might like to set a timer for 15 minutes daily and like or comment on posts relating to a relevant hashtag and those accounts who you’re following.

10) Relevancy – the more you engage with certain types of people and content, the more of this type of content will be shown in your feed.

11) Timeliness – When you post, sit on Instagram for 30 minutes to one hour afterwards to reply to comments – this time period is critical to the algorithm and sharing of content so that it is seen by other users.

12) “Instafraud” – don’t try to fraud the algorithm by using shortcuts to get content seen. Don’t buy followers or use “comment pods” (where a group of the same people share one another’s content).

Building your content

13) Content types – decide on a mix of photos, carousel option sharing up to 15 images (but people’s attention span is super short so just post around six images), videos (standard, time-lapse, or slow motion), user generated content, and Boomerangs.

14) Content ideas – ideas include the “making of” or “sale of” products or services, team stories, before and after shots at events, behind the scenes in the office, sneak previews, how to’s, competitions.

15) Tie your content together using the same filter across all posts or create a theme grid. Recommended apps include Preview for Instagram, A Color Story, Mosaico, UNUM, Planoly.

16) The best Instagram editing apps (not necessarily Instagram itself!), include Snapseed, VSCO, A Color Story, Aftertight, Lightroom for Mobile.

17) Best times to post – around 8am and 5pm are the best UK timeslots. Worldwide, it is 8-9pm. Check to see when your audience is mostly looking at your content. Aim to post at this time and consistently, in order to be seen – the Instagram algorithm likes this!

18) Captions – Instagram is all about community so make people feel and think. Note that captions are cut off when posts are displayed in the feed so ensure the most important content is at the beginning of the caption to draw people in and get them to click. For example, you could start your caption with a short headline and emojis.

19) When posting, consider using the appropriate geo-tag, which will help your content to be discovered.

20) Hashtags – use hashtags to help people find you. Look at competitors to see what they are using and research the local hashtags being used nearby. Experiment with popular hashtags and those relevant to your niche. Don’t use the same hashtag(s) under every post and don’t use generic hashtags like “beach” or “coffee”. Build a catalogue of hashtags and save them on your mobile so that you have them to hand – save time!

Need help?

Do you need assistance with setting up branded business social media accounts for your business or your clients? Or are you looking for an experienced marketing and PR freelancer to help manage your social media accounts? I might be able to help. Get in touch by emailing me at

Image: Photo by Bob Dmyt from Pixabay.