Instagram Pods: Why You Should or Shouldn’t Join One [Instagram Tips: Part 4]

Instagram Pods: Why You Should or Shouldn’t Join One [Instagram Tips: Part 4]

When people come together to help each other, good things happen. This idea is what spurned one of the more popular trends on Instagram called “pods.” Instagram pods are used to help beat the algorithm that so many users despise. I decided to join one and give it a try recently, not only to test it out, but also to share my thoughts regarding this trend and why you should or shouldn’t get involved in one.

Since Instagram introduced the algorithm that would change the app forever as we know it, many users are coming up with ways to overcome this obstacle. Some post at certain times of the day, some buy bots, and some, as in this case, join a pod. The theory behind these pods is that it helps gain traction and engagement on your posts, which then turns your account into the priority on your followers' Instagram feed. The theory is users with more engagement are more likely to pop up on your feed, which you may see happen on your feeds all too often. Again, that is the theory at least, even with Instagram's recent changes.

What Is an Instagram Pod?

An Instagram pod is a group of people that join a group chat or forum where users indicate to the rest of the group that they have just posted a photo or video on Instagram. Once that user has made it known, it is agreed among the other users in the group that they will like their post and comment on it immediately. Once the group posts their likes and comments, that one user’s photo and video is flooded with likes, comments, and engagement. In turn, people who aren’t in the pod are more likely to engage; because no one wants to be first to grab the donut in front of everyone, right?

My Experience

On a Facebook photography group, I found that a group of people was looking to create a new Instagram pod on the app. After brief consideration, I decided to give a shot joining the Pod with complete strangers that shared the same interest as me: photography.

“Welcome to Our Pod”

Initially, the group had about 15 people that joined, which is probably a solid amount of people a pod should start with in my opinion; not too many, not too little. It wasn't too overwhelming and it was easier to decipher one another. 

Our “Code Word”

Since we established an Instagram group chat, we needed to establish rules. Since the rumor going around was that Instagram was picking up on this trend and shadow-banning people because of it, we needed to establish a code word as a queue to let everyone know that we posted a photo or video and to have everyone like and comment on it. Again, this was a rumor, so I'd take it with a grain of salt. We established our code word, "hustle."

What It Was Like

Since this experience was new to me, it was very interesting initially. People were commenting on my photos, I was commenting on theirs. Engagement numbers were up, and my Instagram was “buzzing.”  It was also very cool to meet others I wouldn’t even have known if it wasn’t for this group. The opportunity to meet creatives from around the world was amazing. Our pod consisted of a whole bunch of characters from beauty photographers, traveling creatives, and even makeup artists.

But Did It Work? Did It Help My Numbers?

In one short answer, yes and no. I was active in the Instagram pod for about a month in a half and posted 10 photos in that span, and the statistics were pretty surprising.

Pros: Meet and Engage

The opportunity to engage and meet creatives from around the globe in one group chat was very cool. Some pods are groups of friends, some are complete strangers. Our case was the latter, so we all introduced ourselves to one another and shared what we do.

As far as the benefits of your Instagram engagement, the comments and engagement did encourage users that normally wouldn’t engage with you, as the visual appearance of people engaging with you helps make it easier for others to do so.

Cons: Is It Genuine, Though? Did It Increase Engagement?

On the other hand, the numbers do not lie. As I mentioned briefly, I was active in the group for about a month and a half; 10 photos were posted in that span. The 10 photos posted prior to joining the pod averaged an engagement percentage of 6.7 percent, which is pretty much middle-of-the-road; you'd like to be at least in the five- to ten-percent range. The 10 photos posted during the pod actually showed a slight decrease in engagement percentage at 6.42 percent, which proves that it did not actually increase my engagement. Yes, there was a bump in comments, but my likes and engagement actually decreased during my active time in the Instagram pod.

When you’re involved with an Instagram pod, it tends to not feel very genuine as time goes on. Let’s tell it how it is, the essence of an Instagram pod is as close as it gets to artificially pumping engagement without an Instagram bot. 

After a while, the repetition of leaving comments kind of feels redundant and maybe not the best use of time. In a way, it feels kind of weird after the repetitiveness and not the best use of time; which will help segue into Part Five of my Instagram tips series that will be published soon.

While it may feel like your engagement has increased in the midst of an Instagram pod, the numbers tell a different story.

Should You Join an Instagram Pod?

It depends. If you're an Instagram enthusiast and genuinely love different ways to meet, engage, and, more importantly, grow your Instagram, then yes. I do still believe that this method does have the potential to increase engagement, even with my numbers telling a different story.

My experience may be different from others. But if you'd like to join one, I'd advise preparing to spend more time on the app to make a fair effort with all of your fellow group members. If you prefer to not spend too much time on the app and just enjoy posting your work every once in a while, you'll likely find it tough to keep up with your Instagram pod group. It's not the guaranteed fast track to Instagram fame if that's what you're looking for, which will be the topic I'll dive into for the next article. Stay tuned!

Previous Instagram Articles

In case you missed them, be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this series to help boost your Instagram! 

Three Easy Ways To Drive New Followers To Your Instagram For Free [Instagram Tips: Part 1]

Your Official Instagram Hashtag Guide for Photographers: A List Of The Best Hashtags [Instagram Tips: Part 2]

The Fastest, Easiest Shortcut To Posting Hashtags on Instagram That You've Never Seen Before [Instagram Tips: Part 3]


 

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16 Comments

Michael Holst's picture

"I was active in the group for about a month and a half; 10 photos were posted in that span"

I think you would have seen much better growth if you had posted more frequently. I can see a night and day difference between times when I'm posting every day and when I'm posting every couple or more days.

Pod's are a pretty desperate. They don't seem to be very authentic because it's taking attention away from interacting with your audience and focusing on (unproductively) gaming the algorithm. But that's just my 2 cents.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Instagram: an unrequited love story for professional photographers

Christian Santiago's picture

I think posting more than 10 times in a month and a half would have shifted the numbers more favorably. At the very least, it would have provided a more accurate reporting of the data since people who are trying to gain more engagement typically post way more than that.

Whether it works or not is irrelevant to me. It's fake and phony and just perpetuates the "likes " for the sake of "likes" at any cost kind of attitude that is flooding social media these days. I want the people engaging with my content to actually like my stuff.

Tomash Masojc's picture

Lets create FS pod, i want to try, but don't want to like and comment on poor pictures :D

I’d be interested

kevin hoehne's picture

I'm interested in a FS pod

Martin Peterdamm's picture

for best results you have to post daily... as we know. but to be honest, to keep a certain quality level and not just posting old stuff this is nearly impossible to have daily top notch stuff. I'm not talking about this super boring travel, living the van lifestyle or instagram girls stuff. As a pro or art photographer, when doing a set, normally you have 1 or 3 to 6 really good shoots - but to be honest it is more 3 ;) then how many of these shoots you are doing a month ?
from my time as a commercial / advertising photographer - I was doing around 1 to max 3 big jobs a month. and you are doing stuff which is well paid but sometimes super boring to show...
so 10 shoots a month is maybe something which is more real more honest then practical.
total different story when you are shooting b2c stuff, weddings or more of this down to the ground photography.
when you are doing conceptual stuff it also depends how creative you are and how difficult the realisations is and your style and sometimes even where you live - here in berlin the supply chain of people to collaborate is huge as fuck but friends living in a small town are totally fucked, they are happy to have 1 or 2 people a month to work with

Vincent Alongi's picture

I have two IG accounts; one more for portrait, the other for street. I'm lucky enough to work in NYC, so I can stock up weekly with street photography. Portrait, not the case. From both, I'll populate my facebook page. I try to be selective for both - with the street account, I don't have a problem.

Content on my website is very selective on portrait / modeling and collaboration work only. But if one were to follow the links, they can see everything I put out there from any site/account. The pods help- the networking you can acheive with fellow photogs is a nice bonus.

Dana Cole's picture

great article 😀
I am in a pod and I enjoy it. All the ladies in it have awesome work and we post frequently and support one another. Its great.

I joined then bailed on one. The expectation to comment on everyone's photos, even ones I didn't care for, wasn't something I wanted to have to do.

I'm new to a pod and if I'm to be honest, I'm just not into it at all and I want to get out of it.
Every message is like a cheerleading squad: "🎉 new post!!" Super quick replies and all sugary sweet just doesn't seem genuine to me. But I guess it is really about the "hustle"! 😁
One way you can naturally get comments and likes is to find and follow people similar to your work and comment on their stuff often. What will happen is they'll give you reciprocative comments and likes if they are following you back. Feels like sucking up too, though.
I don't know if pods actually work. There's a girl in the group with the same amount of followers as me (8,000 range) but she gets the same amount of likes as me except 50 comments. I'd expect her to have way more likes, so it makes me wonder if it actually works. I think it just shows more to those who engage. She said she's in several other pods. I think even some that are in the pod that have so many comments like that, it looks a little funny: like where are they all coming from when the work is not quite there yet? I guess just don't go overboard joining several of these...!
Another example is that it's true, not everyone follows the "rules". There's people that are in the pod but I think because they're not "🎉🎉🎉" about everything they do not get the comments or likes from these other pod members. Since it's only a max of 15 I've been seeing how the other's accounts are doing. You still have to do some work to get those comments & likes.

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