An easy way to get more engagement on Instagram
With what feels like a billion people on the world’s most popular photo sharing platform, it can be tough to stand out. Thanks to the new timeline format, getting attention for your brand is even more of a challenge.
In June 2016, Instagram scrapped the chronological feed in favor its new algorithmic timeline. Now, instead of seeing all of your followers’ posts in order, you see the most popular posts of all your followers, as determined by Instagram’s own formula.
The new algorithm is somewhat like a “rich get richer, poor stay poor” economy, and not everyone loves it. Bloggers and businesses have definitely complained that it’s made organic reach harder to get.
Recently though, bloggers, businesses, and influencers have found a way to fight back. They are banding together in so-called “Instagram pods” in order to kick the Instagram algorithm’s butt!
What is an Instagram Pod?
An Instagram engagement pod is essentially a private group message within the Instagram app or another messaging app (such as Telegram or What’sApp). In these “secret” communities, group members take care of each other like a family or friend circle, helping each other to grow their presence on Instagram.
Pods typically consist of around 10 – 20 members who all follow each other upon joining the group. Each time you post, let the group know via direct message. Everyone in the pod is then expected to like and comment on your post, ideally as soon as possible. You, of course, must do the same for the other members.
Benefits of Joining a Pod
The first and most obvious benefit is the added engagement. The reciprocation of likes and comments is a clever way of boosting activity on everyone’s posts. The more attention your post gets, especially within the first five minutes, the higher up it’s pushed in your followers’ timelines, giving it a better chance for even more engagement.
Members also say that the groups provide a sense of community. Participants encourage each other and sometimes share stories, ideas, and tips with each other. You may even make a genuine partnership with someone you might not have otherwise met.
The Downsides of Joining a Pod
The most immediate downside is, all that liking and commenting can be a lot to keep up with! Sometimes you might be busy or just not in the mood, but members who don’t do their part may be deleted from the group.
If you leave the pod, your engagement may go back down. Ask yourself how will it affect your brand reputation in the long-term?
Joining a pod increases the percentage of your followers who will actually see your post in their feeds, but it does not guarantee sales or more conversions. Other members of the pod are after the same thing you are and are not likely to become your customers. Consider a trail period with a goal of X% increase in conversions. If you don’t hit your goal, ditch the pod.
How to Join an Instagram Pod
Want to join a pod or start your own? There are a few ways to go about it. You might reach out to merchants or bloggers in your area via email to build a pod of like-minded business owners. A lot of pods are also formed via a private Facebook group, Twitter inquiries, or Instagram direct message.
It’s probably a good idea to build or join pods that focus on a common theme, such as travel, fashion, food, sports, etc.
The Future of Instagram?
Who knows if Instagram will start cracking down on pods like they did with engagement bots. Technically pod members are not breaking any rules, but it could be seen as gaming the system.
However, if you’re thirsty for some added engagement, willing to give back, and not scared of feeling like you’ve been transported back to a high school clique, you may want to give it a try!
No matter what happens, it is nice to know people are out there trying to help each other.
Do you engage in Instagram pods? Have they helped or hurt your business? I want to hear about your experience!
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