Instagram pods grew in popularity after Instagram’s algorithm change back in 2016. They were a way to boost engagement and hopefully be seen by more people as a consequence. Fast forward 3 years, and Instagram Pods in 2019 aren’t as effective.
What are Instagram Pods?
Instagram pods are private groups of approximately 15-30 people in a similar niche or industry. Members connect through a group chat, DM thread, or turning on post notifications. Members interact with the each others’ posts in hopes to boost organic reach, followers, and engagement.
There are 3 Popular Types of Instagram Pods
Each engagement group will have its own set of rules, but typically members are asked to like each others posts (like-only pod), comment on each others posts (comment-only pod) or do both.
Are Instagram Pods Allowed?
There is a rumor that Instagram is cracking down on pods. We haven’t seen that Instagram Pods are banned though. With that said, it’s obvious that Instagram doesn’t like it when people try to work the system. In March 2019, they banned a lot of third-party tools that did automatic engagement and follows/unfollows.
You may also like How to Gain Followers on Instagram | Your Fast & Frustration-Free Guide
What is Instagram engagement?
The Downside to Instagram Pods
While the idea of gaining free engagement might sound super appealing, there are some downsides to it.
For example: Instagram shows your content to those engaging with it the most.
If your goal is to attract your ideal customer or reader, an engagement pod could actually end up having you showing to competitors in your niche versus your targeted audience since they engage with you most often.
The other cons to participating in instagram pods are that they take time to do and can skew your analytics.
If spending time in an Instagram pod to just attract your competitors wasn’t bad enough, your analytics can also be skewed when you use pod groups.
This can be harmful if you’re using Instagram ads and trying to target those people that are already engaging with your account. Plus, you just can’t separate the analytics to see if your posts are doing better because of the content or the pod-group.
The only upside to having your analytics skewed is that it may help you look more engaged to brands and land sponsored work for now. But that’s super shady, and it will likely change as sponsors continue to work with influencers.
So How Do You Beat the Instagram Algorithm?
This is the million dollar question right??
The Instagram algorithm was developed to help users see the best and most relevant content for them in their unique feed. In my mind – that’s not a bad thing.
Hack 1: Build Relationships
In order to do well with the Instagram Algorithm, you want your audience to consistently engage with your content. As they engage, Instagram acknowledges that you’re building a relationship and keeps you in their feed.
As you build engagement in your industry or niche, you could even end up on the Explore Page which is customized for users based on their activity on the app.
Hack 2: Use All of Instagram’s Features
Along with following the tips in the IGTV lesson, you can also share your newest post to your stories or ask your followers in the stories to like each of your photos if there is something in it for them.
I’ve followed successful fashion Instagrammers that will do a monthly contest if you like all of their pictures for the month, you’re entered!
Instagram stories are a great way to grow your account, and we have tips on getting your stories seen by more than just your followers here!
Hack 3: Avoid Getting Shadow Banned
Instagram’s Shadow banned has been around since at least 2017, and it can kill your engagement for a while (2 weeks seems to be the average). They won’t notify you if you’re shadow banned, but you’ll notice your engagement goes way down or that you’re not popping up in hashtag searches.
A few reasons you might be banned are using:
- banned hashtags
- third-party tools that automate engagement
- Instagram too quickly (40 actions per hour is the limit as far as we know).
The banned hashtags can be a pain! The only way to make sure you’re not using a banned tag is to search it before hand. Even simple things like #Easter could be on the banned list.
This is one reason video and stories are such a great way to boost engagement!
Final Notes on Instagram Pods
While it might be tempting to participate in an Instagram pod, we’d suggest focusing on real engagement and learning how to create awesome stories and videos instead.