You Should Think Twice Before Joining That Instagram Pod

You Should Think Twice Before Joining That Instagram Pod

Instagram pods have been on the rise ever since Instagram switched users’ feeds from chronological to an algorithm-based order. However, there’s one big reason why you should consider not joining a pod, and here’s why.

I’m guilty of joining Instagram pods and basking in the increased engagement they bring. As a wedding photographer, I feel my genre is particularly guilty of partaking in the Instagram pod fad. If you’re not familiar with an Instagram Pod, it’s a group of people who join a group Direct Message on Instagram, WhatsApp, or Telegram with the goal being to engage with one another’s Instagram posts. The idea is that a concentrated effort of engagement will potentially create more widespread organic engagement.

The Instagram Pod Dilemma

The problem comes from the fact that although an Instagram pod may initially increase engagement on a user’s posts, the fact that artificial engagement is occurring obscures any evidence that a user is gaining better organic engagement, thereby hindering any attempt to analyze the health of your organic engagement. If your goal for being on Instagram is only to get as many likes, comments, and followers as possible, then this isn’t really a problem for you. However, if your motivation for being on Instagram is more profound than that (and it really should be), then being in an Instagram pod may not be as beneficial as you thought.

If your goal is to attract a targeted audience of followers (e.g., as a wedding photographer, I want to attract potential brides in my local market), then having an Instagram pod won’t help you, unless that particular Instagram pod is made up of your targeted audience. More likely than not, though, Instagram pods are made up of others within your same market and niche, probably even some of your competitors. 

So, then, does being a part of an Instagram pod help grow your engagement? It’s too hard to say. On one hand, artificial engagement may look impressive to a prospective client, but on the other hand, real organic engagement from a targeted audience is ultimately what makes a sale for professional photographers in the long run.

As of right now, to the general public’s knowledge, Instagram hasn’t begun cracking down on the Instagram pod craze, but it’s almost entirely certain that the algorithm will start finding and penalizing pods and the users enjoying them. 

Next time you log into Instagram, consider why you’re on the platform in the first place and try creating content that furthers your original purpose for joining. There are no easy answers for growing your following on Instagram, but shortcuts may ultimately hurt you in the long run.

Have you been part of an Instagram pod? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.

Lead Image by Lisa Fotios via Pexels, used under Creative Commons.

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12 Comments

ADAM SMITH's picture

tell em done and saved for me! still on the roster

This is the first I've even heard of such a thing.

Social media is so unappealing to me overall, I'm more out of the loop than I thought.

brian's picture

I deleted the app myself. Along with all social media. Sucks because exposure is nice but it is a double edged sword

Jared Wolfe's picture

Instagram values engagement. The more engagement the post gets the more likely it shows up in the feeds of your followers, in top posts for your selected hashtags and the more likely its found on the explore page. Instagrams users value engagement because thats what the platform values and pushes in front of people - engaging content. This all mattered much less in the chronological feed. It is very difficult for users to go back to the why they joined the platform to begin with when the platform itself is no longer what is was when they joined. IG and social media in general has always been a bit of a rat race but the algorithm has simply made it worse.

Richard Bradbury's picture

Pfft I won't even think once about it.

DELETE that BS

Alex Armitage's picture

I thought the reason for pods was more engagement so that your photos show up on more feeds thus increasing exposure? With that in mind I also thought they negated a lot of what pods were doing with an algorithm update

In theory, yes the goal is to get a photo launched into the main search page (tab) of new "real" audience followers, and I'm sure there are plenty of stories of it happening.

But, the premise of it all is still really dumb. It's a huge waste of time, having to comment on everybody else's photos all the time. It's just not a smart use of your time. It's a rat race for people who can't figure out how to actually do something productive with their content, and earn a /real/ income, or gain /real/ viewership, organically.

Instagram just continues to get dumber and dumber. Many of the losers doing this "pod" thing are also using completely pointless hashtags like "IGshotz" and "gameoftones". I've seen innumerable posts with 20-30 hashtags, and literally just ONE of them is actually relevant to the image. Every single other hashtag is just some lame catchphrase, or a cry for attention from the various relevant hubs.

I can't wait for this bubble to pop and for the fad to be over.

Allen Ng's picture

Sadly it's turn to a popularity contest with the measuring stick qauntified to the follower size & like counts

David Leøng's picture

a metaphor, if you will

Rayann Elzein's picture

Instagram = Facebook = a company on the stock exchange market that is valued by the number of users and the level of engagement. Just be real people: as long as this remains the case, Instagram will never crack down on bots, spam, pods or anything that artificially makes that piece of sh*t of an app look popular. That's how Zuckerberg & co make their big bucks ;)

Josh Wright's picture

LoL there is no organic engagement on the Facebook platform. It's throttled so you'll pay to be seen