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?
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.
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!