In June 2016, Instagram changed. Whether for the better or the worse, it’s a controversial topic. Instagram introduced the algorithmic timeline that favors popular posts over chronology. As a result, instead of the latest post, the social media network will show you the content that got the most likes and comments.
Users complained that the new system makes it difficult for them to gain followers organically. So, they’ve started to fight back, with hashtags, bots and, more recently, with Instagram Commenter Pods.
What Are Instagram Pods?
Instagram pods, also known as “comment pods” or “engagement pods,” are small groups of 10-15 like-minded users, usually bloggers, influencers, and content creators that work in similar niches and with similar audiences.
Pod members collaborate and support each other to increase the popularity of their respective content. So, they follow, like, and leave meaningful comments to their peers’ content to help boost their posts in users’ newsfeed. Simply put, the sole purpose of Instagram pods is to help make your content go viral.
How Do Instagram Pods Work?
If the concept of Instagram Pods sounds compelling and you decided to join one, then you’re in for quite a challenge. Pods are exclusive and invitation-only. Although it’s rather easy to find one by asking your network or on forums, pod members are not that open to newcomers.
The solution to this problem: start your own group.
Don’t worry about getting hit by an Instagram Shadowban. If you follow the rules and have your pod mates interact with your content in a meaningful way (that means leaving comments that contain more than just four words or a stream of emojis), then you can boost the popularity of your posts.
Add the users you want in your pod to a group message on Instagram. Try to keep the group small and relevant to your audience. Have the members post in the group message whenever they have fresh content. The members should be ready to jump in and boost the post’s visibility, thus “outsmarting” the algorithm. The more reactions a post receives, the higher the chances it will appear on the Explore Page.
What Is the Explore Page?
Back in 2016, Instagram killed the Popular Page and replaced it with the Explore Page. Although not everybody was happy with the change, it was a logical step that reflected the functions of the new algorithm better.
Just like any other social media platform out there, Instagram tries to customize its content based on your search history. Depending on the type of posts you liked or engaged with in the past, the algorithm will use the Explore Page to suggest similar content that you are more likely to enjoy.
So, if you want to expand your reach on Instagram and connect with a wider audience, then you should strive to get on the Explore Page. Pods can help you in this endeavor since their primary purpose is to increase your engagement rate through the support of your fellow pod members.
Are Instagram Pods Efficient?
Let’s be honest for a second. It doesn’t matter what social media network we’re talking about; their algorithms will always open debates regarding how effective and fair they are. Instagram makes no exception. In essence, pods are a way to cheat the system, but Instagrammers have yet to conclude its efficiency.
On one side, the algorithm seems to defeat the purpose of Instagram pods since it’s largely influenced by the engagement habits of users. In other words, if you constantly interact with content from a particular account, said content will always appear at the top of your feed. Therefore you don’t need your group to inform you about it. Even if some posts are very popular on an account, if you rarely engage with it, it won’t rank high in your feed.
On the other side, the comments you get from your pod members can increase engagement. When users see a good conversation flowing under your post, they are more tempted to engage, especially if you are part of it too. So, the more comments a post has, the better the chances of making it to the Explore Page.
The key is to have your group members react quickly, which signals Instagram that you may have something valuable there. It definitely helps that the algorithm doesn’t distinguish between regular engagement and pod engagement. Additionally, as with any group, you can make new connections and grow your network via pods. You just have to find the right ones, where you feel like you’re part of an active community.
What Are the Implications of Joining Instagram Pods?
Joining an Instagram Pod isn’t without consequences.
- It Can Hurt Your Brand Image: Pods are the first thing to come to mind when you notice a weird comments to likes ratio. Keep in mind that users value authenticity on social media, and cheating the system is anything but that. In the end, it’s up to you whether that says something good or bad about your brand and if you are willing to make a rather risky bet.
- It Requires a Lot of Work: As a pod member, you need to put some work into liking and commenting on your fellows’ content if you want them to return the service. In a group of 14 active members that post constantly, it can get a bit difficult to keep up with them and take care of your account as well. Not to mention, it can get frustrating when members don’t respond fast enough or worse, don’t respond at all.
- It Skews Data. If you have a large audience, you can leverage it to get brand deals. Keep in mind that brands look at your engagement rates to determine the performance of your posts. Artificial comments given by pod members alter data since they come from people who are not necessarily interested in those products. On a side note, pods may help you land more sponsored content deals.
Joining Instagram pods has its ups and downs. But don’t take what others said for granted. They may prove to be beneficial for your Instagram marketing strategy, so you should at least give them a try. Nevertheless, pods or no pods, one thing is for sure. Instagram is a prime channel to promote your brand.