Hacking Instagram to Grow a Huge Following and Build Better Engagement with 'Instagram Pods'

Hacking Instagram to Grow a Huge Following and Build Better Engagement with 'Instagram Pods'

Towards the last half of 2016 many people, especially photographers, began to write off Instagram as a lost cause. So much frustration over lost engagement and dropped followers lead many to leave the platform or simply lose interest in posting more. The algorithm that began with a Facebook style feed that did away with chronological order and brought you "what you wanted to see" was the main cause for all of this. Though, with that comes new techniques to grow a following and hack the system if you will; enter "Instagram pods."

Pods are not a new idea and may sounds a bit silly at first, but overall they are what have built some of the biggest Instagram followings in the world and spawned a new era of collaboration. The idea is gathering a group of friends with similar mindsets and posting times that can notify each other when they have a recent post, that then sparks them all to go like and comment on said photo or video. In turn this builds more comments and likes from heavy users to push more people to see your posts in the feed. Sound simple? Here are a few tricks to get you started and begin a pod of your own. 

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To preface, I had never really paid close attention to numbers and analytics until I began freelancing as a photographer and designer. That is when I looked into building goals and yearly milestones to make sure I was always bettering my craft and knowing it was going in the right direction. At no point should follower counts and likes make a difference in how you approach your career but in todays age its difficult to compete in this very competitive field without using that as a measurement of success or clout. In the end, I am finding pods to be a great way to collaborate and communicate with some of the best photographers around the world. 

Find Friends to Collaborate With You

Finding the right people is key to gaining a bigger bang for you buck with pods. The more like-minded creatives you add to your group of friends, the better the outcome. Personally, I found friends that posted as much as I did and had similar followings but any number helps as the more that see and engage with your work the better. 

Instagram direct messages seems to be the easiest solution to reaching out to each of these people and keeping a group like this active. Right now I am active in a couple pods to test out what this might do for my numbers, so far its been outstanding. Direct messages has a max of 15 users on Instagram so filling that out to the max can be a goal but it come down to who you add as well. Everyone must be in agreement that when a notification comes in for their new post you go through and like and comment on those posts. 

Tracking the Analytics of Pods

I have written about how to see the full analytic tools for Instagram for absolutely no cost at all here, but without turning that on I am able to see more likes and comments than before without going too deep into those. I am averaging 30+ comments per image and doubled my average engagement from last week. 

If you want to see your average likes per photo you can use tools like Iconosquare which has a free trial that allows you to see basic information. You can also add up likes for your last 15 posts and divide by 15 to come up with a rouge average. Its not a perfect science or a super in depth but its will be enough to gage an idea of how well the trick is working. 

Find Me on Instagram, Let's Start A Pod

For the last five years on Instagram I have followed the same 400-500 people and always fail to find new and incredibly talent people from around the world, one of the original draws I had to Instagram in the early years. So lets connect and start our own pod! You can follow me here, or click any of the photos in this article above and send me a direct message to begin a pod. Whether you have 200 followers or 50,000, it doesn't matter, I would love to connect on Instagram. 


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fabricated _minds's picture

not buying followers would have been a good start to have better engagement

For having 67k followers you have a very low engament rate. It always intrigue me when a see this accounts with great work, a lot of followers but very few likes. Anyway you can find me here https://www.instagram.com/arq.ba/

Josh A Katz's picture

I've been interested in this for a little while now. please find me on IG @joshakatz

Andrew Griswold's picture

I am testing it out. I have a backlot of DM's right now in the request folder that I am meaning to get to and I bet you in there. If not, shoot me a DM today!

Interesting article! @danielsnare is my instagram account, would appreciate a folllow :)

Andrew Griswold's picture

Right on man, hit me up on IG with a DM and make it a group chat to start a pod

Brad Aulsebrook's picture

Just followed you Daniel. Looks like we share the same home town.

Posting an article on Fstoppers is probably a good way to boost your followers too!

Peter Barta's picture

I have been interested in this as well. Nice article and I will make sure to send you a message. I am at @bartaphoto and @cityagram

Andrew Griswold's picture

Right on, hit me a DM on IG with you and another person to start a pod.

Anonymous's picture

No longer interested in PODs.

Tony Frattle's picture

This sounds relevant since I'm jumping back in doing portraits and plan to work on my social media game. My IG is: @frattlephotography

Rich Thul's picture

I would be interested in trying this out. My instagram is https://www.instagram.com/richthul

Brad Aulsebrook's picture

This is a great ideal. @brad_aulsebrook is my IG. Ill send you a DM. I will also follow the rest on here that reply.

Robert Prosser's picture

I probably have a different style than most of you amazing button clickers, but I am always intrigued by peoples work and would like to try this out and be involved. www.instagram.com/prosser_photography

Brad Aulsebrook's picture

Nice work! just followed you.

Jessica Jones's picture

This is a very interesting tactic, and a great way to meet a lot of like-minded individuals. I will be following and messaging :) Also, if anyone would like to be in a pod.. feel free to follow & message me @yessyones

Interesting. Not sure how it works when you live in Isolationville, West Australia (aka Perth) Been following you for a while though lol

I've been stuck with the same amount of followers for a long time. Would be interested in being part of a pod to see if it changes anything. www.instagram.com/dustincantrellphotography

thanks andrew for posting this article!

Nikola Spehar's picture

Great article! Just started fresh with my travel portfolio from Tea Horse Road, would love to build an active audience!

This sounds like a great way to boost engagement! I'll DM you. I'm at @s12photography

Lem Joseph's picture

Sounds good to me. I'm interested. @captureitwithlem

Josh A Katz's picture

So far the pod has been great. I would be interested in a more specialized pod that includes only portrait photographers. If anyone is interested in that please find me on IG @joshakatz

Jason Lorette's picture

I've just seen mention of "pods" a couple weeks ago and am certainly curious about them. @refrainphoto

I'll follow all of you commenting on this for a follow back as well. Thanks @jlishamer

Pierre Chavez's picture

This is new to me. Sounds amazing! Would appreciate a follow @05.19.95

Charles Kennedy's picture

Great read and I will give you a follow and DM. I've been interesting in something like this too. I'd love to connect and get a couple pods started with people. Everyone find me on IG: @ckennedyjr I gave most people in the comments a follow.

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