Written by Ali Kirby / Director, Community Growth & Business Development
In the ever-changing world of social platforms it is an influencer’s job to crack the code for success. While follower’s counts have long been considered a sign of achievement any savvy marketer knows that engagement is equally as important. But with Instagram’s changeable algorithm influencers have struggled to retain their level of engagements. The days of chronological scrolls are long since past and while no one could definitively explain the current newsfeed methodology the most basic philosophy is that Instagram is showing the best content to the most people and also ensuring to make noticeable your favorite accounts based upon past history.
One way that influencers have attempted to counter any potential decrease in engagement is by joining an Instagram pod. Think of these pods as micro Instagram communities focused on liking and engaging with each other’s content. Recently these groups have faced scrutiny as potentially misleading brands. Some make the claim this type of interaction is just like a paid bot driving false engagements within the blink of an eye.
In an attempt to better understand the inner workings of these Instagram pods I joined a group some time ago. Within about a two-month timespan I diligently liked and comment on my fellow members content as frequently as I could manage. My pod was not particularly large, with only around ten active members, but nonetheless I was quickly struck with how much work and commitment these pods actually are.
It was easy to immediately dispel the myth that these pods are similar to purchased likes and essentially fake engagement. There is no money exchanged and the members are definitely not robots. Instead these pods are a group of people with potentially similar interests and a love of Instagram.
Within the time I was a member, I witnessed one member train and ultimately climb Mount Kilimanjaro. My encouragement and excitement of her progress was sincere. She was sharing her story and, as her follower, I was inspired. Another member from London would share on a daily basis the latest developments or cute anecdotes from her first-born baby. While I can’t deny I found these baby shares redundant, the mother within me also remembered the sheer fascination and excitement at watching your first baby grow and learn. This display of motherhood joy was touching and genuine and my responses in turn related to my similar experience. If either of these influencers had featured a product on their account, I would have been inclined to learn a bit more and I would’ve been influenced by their Instagram post.
While I enjoyed my time as a member of an Instagram pod and found the experience helpful, ultimately I left. Having deemed my experiment complete, I can best summarize Instagram pods into the following points.
>> Instagram pods are a lot of work; to remain an active member of a pod you need to be committed to your group.
>> Instagram pod interactions are not fake engagements. Yes, some people have really lame comments and are totally disinterested, but they are still real people using Instagram pods.
>> Instagram Pod interactions should not be grouped with any sketchy “pay for likes” companies. With no money exchanged and no computer automation, these are real people with real opinions and stories.
While my Instagram account did receive a slight boost in engagement from my participation, there were no dramatic results. If you are looking for an amazing solution to the ever-changing Instagram algorithm, Instagram Pods aren’t the answer and as such, you’ll probably see this trend die out.