There's been a lot of talk around Instagram pods over the past week, and I'm here to sum it all up for you based off of my own personal experiences. This is purely my opinion, feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below!
What is an Instagram Pod?
I realize that many of you who read my blog are not actually bloggers yourself, so you may be scratching your head already like, what the heck is she talking about? Instagram pods are super popular amongst bloggers who use Instagram as a conversion method to gain blog traffic. It is important as a blogger to have as many engaged followers on Instagram as possible because this boosts your posts in the Instagram algorithm and makes it possible for your content to be seen by many more eyes, hence more opportunity for legitimate followers and blog traffic.
These pods are up to 15 bloggers in your niche who join a DM group and follow a specific set of rules including following, liking and commenting on each other's posts, usually within a certain amount of time. They DM each other when they put up a new post and then usually DM again when they are caught up with likes and comments.
Okay, so you're getting likes and comments, how can that be bad?
So now that we all understand how Instagram pods work, it's easy to be like, okay well if I'm getting a guaranteed amount of likes and comments on each post, won't that just boost me in the algorithm to be seen by more people? Yes, this is true. The more engagement you receive, the more you will be seen. Here's the catch... many of these bloggers who are in your pod are also a part of many other pods. When you are required to like and comment on each other's pictures regardless if you like their content or not, the comments can get a little stale and generic. Also it is EXHAUSTING trying to keep up with these motivated bloggers who post 2-3 times per day! 3 posts X 15 people X 3 pods, that's a LOT of commenting and liking. That's a lot of time that you could be using to search relevant hashtags and finding other Instagram users that you actually WANT to interact with. Also, as Instagram has introduced the new "shadow ban" for excessive use of the same hashtags, you know that they will eventually crack down on these DM pods, since it is kind of a sneaky way to beat the system to gain engagement.
Yes, I was a part of an Instagram pod
I get asked a few times a week to join Instagram pods, and I have since I started blogging about 9 months ago. I've only found myself a part of one pod and I just recently left said pod because I was beginning to feel a certain way about them, which in turn prompted this post. I'm not going to pretend that I hated being a part of this group. Outside of the obligatory comments and likes, these girls were all amazing people and we were all working toward similar goals. It was cool to have a group message with people in my niche where we could ask questions and bounce ideas off of each other. I think Instagram pods would be great if that was all they were, a small community of like-minded individuals who just helped each other with no other obligations. From the beginning I noticed at least a third of the group didn't really follow the rules or participate, whatever. Those that did follow the rules commented and liked diligently, daily, their canned and rushed comments. It was obvious that most of the time many of them weren't even reading the captions. I am guilty of this too! I don't think this was in any way malicious or intentional, many bloggers are a part of many pods and it can be really hard to keep up with all of them all the time! Plus you may not care about what I'm posting, so I don't blame you for leaving a comment that's generic. It's hard to fake being genuine.
To sum it all up
For all the time I was spending on my one Instagram pod, I can only imagine how much time and effort other bloggers are putting into their multiple pods just to get back some lame comments from the same people over and over. What if you could use this time to legitimately grow your Instagram? How much better would you feel if you had followers who actually wanted to follow you and genuinely loved your content?! I know I will definitely be spending my extra time researching relevant hashtags and finding people who have great content that I enjoy following. There's nothing wrong with cleaning out the old followers list and only following people whom you will actually feel excited to engage with because you love their content. I think this makes Instagram a much more enjoyable experience, in turn people will notice you being genuine and excited about their content and who knows, they may love yours as well! In the short term leaving your Instagram pods may be detrimental to your engagement but you will notice it creep back up over time and it will be exciting to see the new growth of followers and commenters who are excited about your posts.
I'll end with a few tips based off of the changes that I've made regarding my Instagram, pods, etc. I'll reiterate that I find it extremely important to only follow people who you ACTUALLY enjoy following. Unfollow people who have content that you may not care for, and if you lose a follower over it, good riddance! You don't want someone who is just following you because you follow them. That is the worst kind of follower, and someone who is most likely just following and unfollowing to see their numbers go up regardless of the quality of their followers. Bye bye!
On that same note, leave your traditional Instagram pods! Join a pod that is purely for getting to know other bloggers, but don't be a part of the like-for-like and comment-for-comment pods. You will thank me, I promise you! Also, find other bloggers who interest you and turn on post notifications for those users. I've been doing this with my favorite Instagrammers because I never want to miss a post, and it's easy to leave genuine comments on their content because I love what they're posting. I don't even care if they don't return the favor, that's not the point of this at all.
Spend your extra time and energy really creating posts that you are proud of and I promise you the followers will come! As long as you are consistent and engaged on the hashtags that you love, you will see growth over time. There is no quick growth method that is legitimate and honest. All of the method's out there including Instagram pods will only hurt you in the long run, and you're better off taking the slow and steady approach! I by no means have the hugest following currently, I'm at about 2,000 right now, all of whom enjoy my content and leave me honest and genuine comments. Much better than having 10,000 followers who don't even care about you!
I really hope this helped many people who have had questions about Instagram pods and engagement. Please let me know your own experiences in the comments below!