Honestly, if there was a trick to instantly grow your Instagram engagement overnight, most of us would be first in line. As such, you’ve probably heard a lot about Instagram engagement pods recently—everybody seems to be in one or talking about one. Normally, they’re either raving that pods are the best thing ever, or they’re writing pods off as an ineffective trend.
So in the name of science, I attempted a few Instagram pods myself to see if they actually work.
Wait, what’s an Instagram engagement pod?
An engagement pod is a group (or ‘pod’) of Instagram users who band together to help enhance engagement on each other’s content. This may be done via likes, comments, or follows.
Whether you’re looking for something more general, and even something exclusive, chances are there’s a pod to cater to it.
The number of people in each pod can vary. There are sometimes pods with over 1,000 active users and ones that have 50 or fewer active participants.
Each pod has its own rules, but most include these general guidelines:
- Respect the time when the pods “drop” (“drop” is pod lingo for a predetermined time when users are allowed to share their content for likes or comments)
- Don’t use the chat to chat (that is pure enterprise, no pleasantries allowed)
- Most essential of all, don’t leech (where you reap the advantages of utilizing Instagram pods, however, don’t like or comment back)
There are additionally a few other rules you’ll come across, such as having a certain amount of followers before you may join, what sort of content you post (e.g. wedding images, baking, lifestyle, and so on.), and how much time you need to fulfill your engagement requirements (anything from one to 5 hours usually from the time that the content is dropped).
Why would I use Instagram pods?
Instagram changed their algorithm from displaying content in the chronological order they were posted, to highlighting posts it believes you will care about based on past behavior. The algorithm additionally prioritizes content from accounts that already have high engagement.
Since that change, users and brands alike have found it harder and harder to build engagement and followings on Instagram
To get around this, pods help users generate engagements and follow. In theory, this should work—the more likes or comments you have on a post right away, the more you signal to Instagram that your content is engaging. So the next time you publish, your content needs to automatically be served up to more of your followers.
It could seem like a daunting task to both improve follower numbers and get engagement on your posts too, so these pods are seen as an attractive method of bumping up your numbers.
How to join an engagement pod
To be honest, I attempted, and it’s not simple.
Actually, let me rephrase that, joining a quality pod isn’t simple.
I’ve found that pods can usually be broken down into two distinct groups: the mass pods which have over a 1,000 members and are simple to join, and the small, niche pods that generally have 20 people in the max, and are hard to search out.
Facebook and Telegram
There are a multitude of places you could find pods. Facebook and Telegram, an encrypted messaging app just like Whatsapp, are the most popular. I found googling “Telegram Instagram engagement pods” often gave me sites that contain a list of the larger groups that I may join.
Telegram is an effective place to find mass-pods of 1,000 or more users, though there are smaller, more exclusive pods on this platform too.
Facebook additionally has lots of groups which you can join. However, unlike Telegram, these are often closed and require an invitation to become a member. Your content is also vetted to make sure you make the grade. They don’t tend to ‘drop’ or trade their Instagram content on the platform itself either. As Facebook is Instagram’s owner, they don’t want to potentially flag themselves as users who’re ‘gaming’ the system.
Reddit has a subreddit—IGPods—the place you could find pods which are calling for members, or even put a call-out for members if you want to begin your own. These pods will usually live within Instagram’s messaging system. Members will message the rest of the group to say that their new content is live, and the rest of the pod is required to go through and like and comment.
And finally, of course, there are pods that begin within Instagram itself. I’ve come to see these as the ‘White Whale’ of engagement pods, as they’re very hard to find and very hard to get invited to. More often than not, users don’t want to admit that they’re utilizing pods, so it’s a bit of a game of hide-and-seek, and gentle prodding to see if you could get an invite.
How I got banned from an engagement pod
Turns out, it’s very simple to get banned and kicked out of an engagement pod. On my first day of testing out those pods, I overestimated my ability to keep up with my side of the engagement bargain.
Eager to dive into analysis, I enthusiastically signed up to two ‘drops’ that occurred in two different groups at the same time on Telegram. I thought to myself, ‘How hard can it be to go through and like the last posted piece of content of everybody else who additionally joined that drop?’
That was my first mistake.
Both of those pods had over 2,000 members. That doesn’t mean that each member will be active in every drop, however, with that many members the participation number is usually very high.
When the drop is over, an automated bot will send you a list of everybody who’s participating, with the advice to copy and paste all the handles into an Instagram message to yourself to make it simpler to click-through. Both of those pods had the rule that all likes have to be done within an hour and a half, otherwise, you would be warned or banned for leeching.
I frantically copied and pasted the lists—a task that took 15 minutes alone to do. Then I went on a giant liking spree. I didn’t even finish half of a pod before the allocated hour and a half was up, and I got kicked out of the other.
Fortunately, the automated admin messaged me and told me that I can purchase my method back in for $15. This was an offer I didn’t accept.