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.
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.