When numbers on Instagram crunch low, marketers resort to multiple strategies. And one of the most tempting quick fixes is joining Instagram pods.
Wondering what's that?
In case you don't know, these pods are Instagram engagement groups where people agree to engage with each other's Instagram posts. The purpose behind this is to shoot up the overall engagement on the content of all the group members.
Instagrammers mostly use external apps like Telegram to run pods.
But what is the pressing need behind such engagement pods? Let's find out.
What are Instagram pods used for?
Instagram is best known for its changing algorithms. Earlier, the platform showed posts in chronological order. Now, it displays content on your feed depending on the engagement it gets within the first few hours of posting.
So basically, the algorithm favors only popular accounts with a high number of followers that generate engagement instantly.
But it is not so favorable for smaller brands trying to grow their accounts by consistently posting content. Thus these brands or small influencer accounts use these pods as their engagement strategy. Some of the best pros of these Instagram pods are:
- Spike in Instagram engagement rates: When you DM your post just after posting to multiple Instagram pods, you get likes, shares, and comments within the first hour of posting. So, the Instagram algorithm starts favoring your posts to appear on top of Instagram users’ feeds which brings you further engagement.
- Getting more Instagram followers: When you get good engagement on your content within minutes of posting, the chances of it getting featured on Instagram's "Explore Section" increase (if you use a relevant hashtag). Thus new people (who do not already follow you) discover your account. This strategy boosts your follower count.
- Better Community Support: Getting a decent follower count and high engagement on a new Instagram account can be a big challenge. It is easy to get overwhelmed and quit. But when you join these Insta pods, people in these groups will support you, not just with their engagement. They will comment on your posts and cheer you up, which is a great morale boost.
Before you start your quest on finding Instagram pods, let’s quickly run through different pod types so you can decide which one suits you best.
Types of Instagram Pods
1. Comment pods on Telegram
When you join comment pods on Telegram, you have to comment on several Instagram posts. These groups are usually managed by automated bots that indicate you to type in your Instagram username in the chatbox.
You will receive a list of all the usernames in the group, and your task will be to engage in the comment box of every Instagram post (especially the most recent ones) within forty-five minutes.
Pro Tip: Post your Instagram content five minutes before the round you want to participate in.
2. Instagram DM groups
These are Instagram groups where you DM your Instagram post right after you post it, and the other members of the group engage with it.
Due to the limited number of members (15 max) allowed in a group chat, it can be a bit confusing to keep track of the posts you have already engaged with. If you want the engagement on your posts to be niche-specific, these pods are the ones for you.
3. "Turn on post notification" pods
It takes less effort to participate in these pods since you do not have to direct message your post to the pods. Every member of these pods will turn on the post notification for other members.
So whenever any of the members post any Instagram content, the other members get notified. These are the best Instagram pods to get immediate engagement on your Instagram content.
How to find Instagram pods to join?
Finding Instagram pods to join is easy. But discovering genuine and high-quality Instagram pods where members are active is where the whole venture gets messy. However, after some research, you might land on some quality pods. Some of the places you might discover them are:
1. Facebook and Telegram
You can google "Top Telegram and Facebook pods I can join in 2022". Go through the websites at the top of the results page and look for the kind of pods you want to join.
There are mass pods with more than 1000 members (who post content in different niches) and niche pods with fewer and exclusive members. The only difference between Facebook groups and Telegram pods is that you need an invitation to join the former.
Pro Tip: If you are a small account and initially your goal is to increase engagement and follower count somehow, go for larger IG pods. However, if you are a niche brand that needs selective engagement for better conversions or a niche creator who wants to form a community, go for exclusive and smaller pods.
There is a subreddit on Reddit known as IG pods. These pods often look for members to join and actively call out for members. These pods also call for people who want to start their pods. Most of these communities are very active within Instagram's messaging system.
Since Instagram itself is the app where you post the content, it is the "white whale" of engagement pods.
A high-quality Instagram engagement group is rare to find and even more rare to get invited to. Also, since most users do not want to reveal that they are on pods, no one will openly accept being a part of it.
Can Instagram Pods beat the algorithm?
Let's face it! If these shortcuts could beat the algorithm to increase engagement, anyone could build a loyal audience on the app and monetize it. But it is not as easy as it sounds. If it were, brands would be making sales every day on the app without spending on ads, and big influencers would not get paid thousands of dollars to collaborate with a brand.
Then should you depend on Instagram pods for building a huge following and getting great engagement? The answer is no! This hack of engagement pods works only for the first few months after you open your account to boost engagement initially.
In the long run, you have to consistently create good quality content that people find interesting, schedule at the best time, put well-researched hashtags, post Instagram stories, etc., for genuine engagement and follower count. However, if you want to extract the best results from Instagram pods, you can build your own Instagram pods instead of joining one.
Here are some tips for creating your own Instagram pods.
- Do not randomly choose 15 popular Instagrammers. Be sure all the accounts you select post content regularly and actively engage with their comment section.
- For best results, choose accounts that have the same target audience as your account.
- Go for accounts in the same time zone. It will help you strategically time the engagement.
- Next, you can add these accounts into a group DM and send them a welcome message with proper and specific guidelines (for instance, like and comment in a post within 5 minutes of when a member shares it in DM)
- Monitor the presence of any leecher. Check if any member is only sending their post in the group for engagement but not engaging with the content of other members. If so, warn that member and if they still continue doing it, remove that member from the group.
- Regularly check if the group is active enough. Usually, as time passes, pod members turn inactive. Nudge them to be active or else replace them with new members.
- And lastly, ask everyone to be kind to each other and wholeheartedly support each other. This will make your pod a good community.
Should brands use Instagram engagement pods?
Instagram engagement pods can be a good engagement strategy for individual accounts that want to grow. But will brands benefit from this engagement strategy? Let us look at some cons.
1. It will consume a lot of your time
You already have ten tasks on your to-do list as a business owner. Participating in Instagram pods is a huge time commitment. So you will never find enough time to engage in these tactics. However, you can delegate it to another person who will do it for you.
2. It will not generate sales for you
If you are a brand, your ultimate goal is to generate sales and not just bland engagement. But to sell, you need people interested in your brand and offer to engage with your content. Pods will boost your engagement rates without helping you reach your target audience. You will not get actual conversions, and so it is useless.
3. The results will look suspicious
When any new person (interested in your brand) comes to your account and finds out that your likes and comments are even more than your follower count, your brand might come off as inauthentic. People will question the genuineness of your brand, which might discourage them from purchasing from you.
4. Instagram's algorithm might detect this suspicious activity
Instagram is working on optimizing its algorithm every single day. A sudden heavy spike in engagement in your content can generate suspicion. Instagram might understand that you are trying to hack the algorithm and later not favor your organic content.
5. Your brand has to engage with irrelevant content
In most pods, you will have to engage with the content of fake accounts that have no relation to your brand. If your followers see these spammy likes and comments of your brand on random accounts, it might create a negative impression of your brand. This could negatively affect your brand deals, influencer collaborations, or takeovers.
6. You will not understand if your content is providing value
Fake likes, shares, and comments are misleading. You will not be able to guess if your potential customers are actually resonating with and liking your content. This will harm your long-run Instagram marketing strategy.
Pro Tip: Only participate in niche pods with high-quality users that post content similar to your brand content. If you want to participate in larger group DM pods, create a different fake account just for that purpose.
However, still, so many small brands rely on engagement pods due to reasons like:
- In exclusive or niche pods, brands can come across people who are genuinely interested in the content your brand is posting and your offers.
- You can assess the content of the other accounts in these pods to improve your content quality.
- If you are in a pod of a high-quality group of people like social media managers, bloggers, marketers, etc., they might also give you tips on improving your content strategy.
- If you join larger pods, you might not reach your target audience. But the engagement boost can help your brand get featured in the "Explore Page". Your target audience might discover you from this section eventually.
So if you are a brand and want to join Instagram pods, you should follow these tips:
- Instead of being on a few large Instagram pods, participate in multiple niche Instagram pods.
- Choose a pod with members who are ideally your target audience and might end up buying from you.
- Remove yourself from pods that are not paying off the time and effort you are investing in engaging.
Is it safe to participate in Instagram pods?
Instagram often takes action against fake accounts, bots, spamming, etc. Several Instagram pods have been previously banned as a warning. After all, Instagram's algorithm and community guidelines do not support any artificial activities like fake engagement. So, it is a concern.
However, in order to avoid these risks, participate in multiple pods. This is because when you participate in fewer pods, the same ten people engaging on your posts, again and again, might create suspicion on the platform. Also, make sure you have a genuine engagement strategy apart from these Instagram pods. You can even move on to a different messaging app like Telegram for better safety.
Do not think of Instagram pods as any "magic engagement booster" that will 5x your follower count or get you massive engagement overnight. Even if you participate in several pods at once, it will take time to build momentum. Just make sure that you follow all the guidelines of every pod and do not try to leech engagement. Keep your expectations low and help others reach their goals, and you will reach yours.