Continue with something about Instagram pods…
What were the outcomes?
The outcomes have been a mixed bag. I attempted a variety of different Instagram pods—the mass ones as I mentioned in the previous part, smaller pods with around 100 members, and finally a couple of small pods that I found via Reddit.
On average I got between 40 and 60 likes on content that I posted. I used hashtags and did a small amount of outreach once I posted to help increase the content’s engagement.
Also, before the experiment, my follower number was around 251, give or take, with comments on my posts being rare as well. I’m not a prolific poster on Instagram. I generally publish 3 to 4 pieces of content a month if it’s been a great one for images. However, for this experiment, I attempted to publish daily.
The mass-pod gave me an instant injection of likes. As I mentioned previously, I joined two of the Instagram pods drop and ended up with 749 likes—an incredible improve 1398 %. However now I had an issue: the number is so abnormally different than what I often see on my content, so it looks fake. I also didn’t see an uplift in followers, which means that my page as a whole wasn’t being looked at either.
I know from my personal experience of attempting to get via the list sent to me that I didn’t look beyond the newest post, so I knew that other users wouldn’t be “enjoying” my content either. They were merely getting via the list themselves, or they were utilizing their own bot to do that for them.
I decided to search for other pods that didn’t have such a giant enterprise to be part of them. I found pods that required members to like and comment on the last 5 drops, before posting their own content (or some variation of this rule, such as liking and commenting on everything from the last 24 hours).
In theory, this should enhance both your comment count and like count by and an average of five. I found this to be hit and miss though—I did see a development in the number of comments, however, total likes didn’t change a lot. Additionally, checking again into the pod that I dropped in, I can see that there were a few people who posted after me that were definitely leechers.
Lastly, I joined a few smaller pods that I found on Reddit. These were easy to get into, and as soon as I was added I went back as far as I could—liking commenting and following all members to show that they had added me in good faith.
Both of those Instagram pods were laid back, with no real rules apart from “don’t overpost, and stay active and on top of your engagements.” Lots of the members shared similar content to my own, so I didn’t feel as though I was ‘faking’ my interest in their content in order to increase my own.
I let my posts sit for a while to see if organic engagement would enhance as a result of my pod work, however, I didn’t see any meaningful outcomes. My follower numbers and comments increased—8.7 % and 700 % respectively, however as my average comment number before the experiment was between zero and one, this increase wasn’t dramatic. Similarly, likes haven’t really seen a dramatic increase.
Nonetheless, it’s necessary to remember that this experiment was done over a short period of time. I’m currently still active in the two small pods that I found through Reddit—so this can have a long-term impact on my overall engagement.
Should brands use Instagram engagement pods?
Instagram engagement pods are a very alluring method to increase engagement on Instagram, however, there are lots of pitfalls and reasons to stay clear of them:
- It’s time-consuming. In my quick experiment, I spent lots of time (on average three to 4 hours per day) just looking for pods to join. Each day I was looking for new ones that I can become a part of, all while keeping up with the pods I was already active in. It would take at least one dedicated member of your group to keep on top of everything that’s occurring to get advantages from utilizing a pod—unless you purchase or build a bot to deal with this for you of course.
- It doesn’t produce meaningful outcomes. That is especially true of the bigger pods. Other people in these pods aren’t excited about you or your content—they’re there for themselves. Brands need to be utilizing social as a meaningful method to connect with their audience and build relationships that drive sales and brand loyalty. While pods could improve your reach and engagement, it’s not with the right people, i.e., potential clients. Brands may want to consider Instagram pods when it comes to selecting influencers to work with. If an influencer is utilizing pods to inflate their numbers, which means you may not get as much (or any) value out of a partnership. Take a close look at their content—did they see a sudden spike in engagement? Is their engagement rate consistent throughout all their posts? Does their comment to follower to like ratio look legit?
- The outcomes will look suspicious. Any current or new followers coming to a brand page that’s used a pod will see that it’s been very obviously manipulated. Particularly if your follower numbers don’t clarify the high level of likes or comments. This might be off-putting to genuine followers of your page or product, as they most likely want to have a transparent relationship with brands they select to follow within their personal channels.
- You must like and comment on content that’s not relevant to your brand. Until you’re in a niche pod where the quality of users is higher, you’ll usually have to engage with content that’s of low-quality or has nothing to do with your brand. Your interactions can also been seen by your followers, so you must consider their reaction to the random content you’re engaging with. Though, with the bigger engagement pods, you could mask your activity by setting up a fake account to ‘engage with’, however, use your real account to have the others from the pod ‘engage on’. But by then you’re at point #1 again (is it worth the time?).
- Instagram’s algorithm might be smart enough to figure out what you are doing. Instagram (and by extension Fb) spend lots of money and time optimizing their algorithms and watching how their users are engaging on the platform. A sudden spike in your engagement is likely to flag in their system, and so it can result in detrimental treatment to any organic content you select to publish in the future.
However, there are a couple of reasons why pods can work for you and your brand:
When you work hard to gain access to a niche pod that’s related to your brand, this can work in your favor. That is especially true when you’re a small or new brand looking for methods to connect with your followers. You may learn from them what your target audience is looking for, as well as find methods to enhance your content.
Much like the niche pods, small pods can also offer a more genuine engagement experience—a lot of them can be open to giving you tips on your content when you’re in a pod of like-minded social managers.
So there you have it—the real truth behind Instagram’s engagement pods.
Though they could look like an alluring quick-fix to help bump up engagement on your Instagram channel, it’s a good idea to do some research to get the full image on whether or not they’d be helpful for your brand.
Don’t feel like engagement pods are for you or your brand after reading this? We’ve got a lot of content to help you organically build your following on Instagram—from easy methods to get more Instagram followers to quick tips to up your Instagram game.