You’ve probably heard the term “Instagram Pod” or “Instagram Engagement Group” floating around the business/insta world lately (and if not, you’re in the right place!) As Instagram continually changes their algorithms and more and more users are experiencing a drop in engagement, the forward thinkers are looking for ways to fight back.
With that in mind, Instagram Pods were born and starting gaining traction, and for good reason – they’re essentially a free and easy way to increase your engagement on Instagram (if done right!) But are they really right for you, and your account? Keep reading to find out!
What exactly is an Instagram Pod or Engagement Group?
In the simplest form: an Instagram Pod is a group of people who are committed to liking and commenting on each other’s Instagram posts in attempts to improve everyone’s overall engagement.
The easiest and most common place for these Pods to be formed is on Instagram. A maximum of 15 people can be put into a group DM (direct message) where each member can easily share their photos and receive likes and comments from the other pod members.
Of course, with any basic method, someone always attempts to scale it to something much larger.. Because Instagram limits 15 people to a DM, some Instagrammers have moved to an external app called Telegram to create much larger Instagram Pods (I’ve seen some with upwards of 3000+ members!) While having a larger Pod can mean more engagement on your photos it also is much more common to see “leechers” or people who simply show up, share their image but don’t give engagement back so be careful if you’re considering using one of these mega groups!
Now that the basics are out of the way, let’s get to the meat of this blog post… Are Instagram Pods really worth your time?
Do Instagram Pods really help to increase my engagement?
Yes and No. Here’s what I’ve found throughout my experience with pods:
1. Being in just one Instagram Pod is not enough – Pods can work really great but if you’re only getting 5 extra likes from your group members the impact on your overall engagement will be minimal. I recommend (if you have the time and resources) to join multiple pods to increase the benefit on your account.
2. You’ll get the most out of your Instagram Pod if you join one that has members who share a similar target audience. For example, if you’re a jewelry designer and are trying to reach young women, you’ll want to group up with other crafters who have a similar audience. This way, when you engage with each other, Instagram takes that into their algorithm and will often show your content to the followers of your pod members (via the explore page or suggest users feature). This means with the right Pod you can actually be exposed to your target audience more regularly.
3. You’ll see the biggest engagement boost if your Pod members are from the same time zone or are prepared to engage with your content as soon as it’s shared. The first 30 minutes after your post has gone live are extremely important in determining the success of your post. If you get an extra boost of engagement from your pod right away this will tell Instagram your post is significant and they’ll rank it higher in the algorithm and will increase your chances of making it to the Top Posts section of your chosen hashtags (win, win, win!)
4. If you find the time and effort you’re putting into your Pod isn’t paying off, ditch it and commit the time previously spent on the pod on engaging with your target market (liking, commenting, following, etc). This direct interaction with your target market often pays off much better than what you can get from an Instagram Pod. This is why in #1 I recommend joining more pods if possible – it’s the only way to truly see a boost.
7 Ways to Boost Your Instagram Engagement!
Is it safe to participate in an Instagram Pod?
With all the talk of new algorithims and Instagram Shadowbans (not sure what that is? click here to find out!) everyone is on edge about what behaviour is acceptable on Instagram. This is a fair concern but something to not get too worked up about – fear mongering never got anyone anywhere.
Here’s how I see it: the repetitive liking and commenting of the same 10 people could trigger a red flag on Instagram so that’s why it’s important to be involved in more than one pod (and engaging with a variety of people). You also want to make sure you’re implementing a liking and commenting strategy outside of your pod (even if just for a few minutes a day) because this shows Instagram you’re a real person who has favorites (your pod members) but also interacts with others on a regular basis.
There has also been rumor that Instagram is keeping an eye on people “over-using” the ‘send to DM’ feature (the paper airplane icon underneath your image) but remember that that’s what this feature was MADE for. Some pods will encourage members to simply state that they’ve shared a new photo rather than linking to it, but in my experience this has had no effect on engagement – in fact, it often decreases because not everyone in the group notices you shared something new if you don’t link to the image!
So, while Instagram could be taking note of repetitive messages being sent to the same group, I don’t think at this time it’s something to worry about, especially if you’re implementing the other tips I mentioned above.
As stated earlier, some people are moving off of Instagram and onto an app called Telegram to host their Pods and avoid any trouble with Instagram. So far this seems to be an OK practice and is “safe” to use, but like I said, don’t join a group with 1,000+ members or you’ll spend the rest of your life liking/commenting without getting much in return (leechers are very real).
Ok I think I would like to join an Instagram Pod.. But how do I find one?
I’m glad you asked! Due to the popularity of Instagram Pods, I went ahead and created a Facebook Group specifically for you to find the EXACT pod you’ve been looking for! Simply click here (or the image below) to join!
Once inside you can request to be added to any of the pods already in progress or you can create your own.
My recommendations for a successful Instagram Pod
If you really want to get the best results from your Pod you have to be strategic about it. You can’t just throw together 15 random people and hope for the best. Take control of your situation and follow the steps below to build a strong, thriving Instagram Pod that actively improves your engagement on Instagram:
- Select members that are proven to be active (check their accounts and make sure they’re posting regularly)
- Select members that have an audience similar to yours (see #2 above for why)
- Select members that are in the same or similar time zone as you (this helps with getting engagement quickly)
- Add all of your members to a group DM on Instagram (to do this open Instagram, click the house icon, click the plane icon in the top right, click the plus icon in the top right and type out all of the members names)
- Send a welcome message that includes the guidelines for the group (must like & comment on every photo, 1 share per day, etc)
- Monitor the activity (make sure you’re checking to see if everyone who is sharing a post is also giving proper engagement. If they aren’t, address the problem or ask them to leave)
- Revaluate the group’s effectiveness regularly (as time passes members will become inactive or leave the group, replace them with new fresh members as often as possible)
- Have fun! Enjoy getting to know your new support system 🙂
Remember: every Instagram Pod is different and will have different rules and guidelines for proper participation.My pods are limited to sharing one post per day and you must like AND comment on each photo. Some pods you can share as many times per day as you want. Some are like only, comment only, save only, etc.
Make sure whatever pod you join, you read and fully understand the group rules. If anyone doesn’t participate properly it can really damper the experience for the other members involved. So don’t get greedy, don’t join pods just to spam your image and hope for extra likes. Join Instagram pods to meet other, like-minded individuals and help them reach their goals. This is the only way we can all truly benefit 🙂
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So, there you have it. The truth about Instagram Pods – they can work if done correctly. They can also be a major waste of time. Try it out and see what works for YOU. Once you find what is working, keep at it and you will surely see a positive impact in your experience on Instagram!
Are you part of an Instagram Pod? What has your experience been? Let me know in the comments!