The release of the new Instagram algorithm in May of 2016 caused a massive decline in engagement levels for Instagrammers everywhere, sending bloggers and influencers into a tailspin. Accounts are getting less likes, less comments, and ultimately, less exposure, forcing them to get creative to boost engagement levels.
Instagram Pods are a popular way of doing so, and if you don’t already know what they are, Instagram Pods are group messages including anywhere from 15 – 1,000 people. Essentially, each member sends the group a link to their most recent Instagram post so other members can like and comment on it. Each group pod has its own set of rules intended to hold members accountable so they reciprocate engagement. If you don’t follow the rules you get kicked out, but participating frequently in several pods at a time can get you hundreds of likes outside of your followers.
When I first started blogging it seemed like a great concept. I was so excited to be a part of a friendly, supportive blogging community to motivate me and boost my social media presence, but there are also several problems when it comes to Instagram Pods: they produce fake engagement, they deceive brands, they saturate the market, and they are a massive waste of time.
Instagram Pods are Fake AF
Let’s be real: if you’ve ever been in an Instagram Pod it can be a total chore to like and comment on upwards of fifty posts every day that you could care less about. And TBH, it’s just as much of a chore for your fellow pod members to comment on your posts as it is for you to comment on theirs. You’re all just there to boost your own likes and comments, and while you might genuinely be supportive of each other’s #Instagoals, it’s not authentic.
There is a difference between interest and engagement.
Your pod members are only showing interest in your posts because they have to, which is the same reason you show interest in theirs- because if you don’t, you’ll get kicked out of the pod and you’ll no longer get comments on your pictures. The result?
A community of bloggers with fake likes, fake comments, fake followers, and fake engagement. The numbers might look good to an outsider, but it’s all just fluff without meaning and the minute they decide to leave your pod they most likely won’t like or see your posts.
Instagram Pods are Fraudulent
When brands look for influencers to promote products, they look for engagement, which is exactly what you’re giving them with Instagram pods, right? Wrong.
When brands see 500 likes and 75 comments on your photos they are expecting those users to be followers who are genuinely interested in your posts. The reality is, a large portion of those likes and comments are coming from pod members who don’t follow you, don’t care, and will never use your discount code to buy the product you’re promoting- they’re too busy worrying about their own brand partnerships.
Sure, you may get a few free products from a few naive brands, but you are literally committing fraud.
“Fraud (noun): wrongful deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.”
Although it’s not illegal to be in Instagram Pods, it may as well be. Brands work with bloggers because they feel their products would be well received by a blogger’s following, and they expect to see returns in sales. When your engagement comes from a place of dishonesty, you are not only misrepresenting yourself and your brand, you are also deceiving the brands you work with.
Blogs are meant for spreading ideas, experiences, and viewpoints; they are not meant for manipulating stats and misleading businesses.
Instagram Pods Saturate the Market
When it comes down to it, Instagram pods are not only a form of false advertising, but they are contributing to the underlying problems within the Instagram community. Social media has become so saturated with wanna-be influencers and fake accounts that new bloggers are forced to join Instagram Pods to compete. I don’t blame you for wanting to jump right in and claim your presence on social media, I was naive once too!
But by joining Instagram Pods, you are just becoming another wanna-be influencer too impatient, lazy, entitled, or afraid you won’t make it on your own to work for it. Hate to break it to you, but if you need Instagram pods to get engagement, you’re doing something wrong. Your target audience is out there, you just need to find them.
Niche down, get specific, and figure out what you’re good at. You got this!!
Instagram Pods are a Waste of Time
In the end, Instagram Pods are nothing but a waste of time. You spend all these hours scrolling through group chats, liking photos, and forging your best comment that says, “I’m interested, but not engaged,” all to build a feed that is nothing more than a representation of an inauthentic following.
Not only that, but you also become chained to the pod. Once you have high engagement levels as a result of group pods, you can’t stop participating in them. Well, you could, but your engagement levels would plummet. And so, you are forever caught in the cycle of sharing links to your posts and commenting on everyone else’s day in and day out until you want to scream and pull your hair out because blogging isn’t fun anymore.
Wouldn’t it be better to have an audience that is genuinely interested and engaged? One that you built from the ground up? One that likes and comments on your photos because they believe in what you have to say and what you represent? One that jumps at the chance to buy the product you’re promoting and DMs you how thankful they are and how awesome the product is?
And so, I have just one question for you…
Why did you start blogging?
Was it to win the Instagram popularity contest?
To gain confidence and self-assurance from a high number of likes?
Was it to deceive brands? To trick them into paying you to promote their product with no return in sales?
To make easy money with little effort?
Was it to saturate Instagram and begin your career as a wanna-be influencer?
Or, did you start blogging to express yourself, to help others, and to make a difference in the world?
Think about that the next time you open Instagram.