Should You Try Joining An Instagram Pod?

By @TheMarkDalton

So you want to up your Instagram game and are wondering what the best way to do it is. How do you grow your account fast, grow it the right way and actually see a return for that growth in engagement? Some turn to bots but it is a risky game, just last week Instagress which was a popular bot for auto commenting and using the follow/unfollow trick to grow has been shut down.

The service was closed at the request of Instagram who are clearly looking to crack down on accounts looking to try and growth hack their way to the top. Users are scrambling since Instagram removed chronological posts to try and hack the algorithm and it has given rise to the formation of “Instagram Pods.”

What is an Instagram Pod?

Instagram Pods are private groups of typically 10-15 Instagrammers, bloggers or businesses with similar audiences and content who want to increase Instagram engagement and grow their account. They communicate via Instagram DM’s and every time someone in the pod publishes a new Instagram post they share that in the DM. Every other member of the pod will go and click on the post, like it and leave a genuine comment which will encourage other followers to engage authentically too. If things work out real well you can land on the Instagram Explore page and as many of us know by now, if that happens then magic can happen.

Pods have been on the rise since Instagram changed the algorithm last year, the more likes and comments you receive shortly after posting means your post performs better in the algorithm and will get better exposure to new and regular Instagram users. Instagram pods are a way of trying to beat the algorithm and if you end up in a pod where people are adding thoughtful comments and really engaging then your Instagram game could really be on the rise faster than you think.

What do you need to know before you try joining one?

Okay so for starters, pods are invite only. You have to be added to a closed Instagram group chat and that can happen through linking up on an Instagram themed Facebook group or if you know someone already in a pod who can get you in. There are also websites where you can apply and they will place you in an appropriate pod with other members.

Once you get in you need to start by making sure you are familiar with the rules. Pods will have different rules around what is expected of you with regards to content and engagement. Make no mistake about it, Instagram pods are serious and they are taken very seriously by members of a pod. You won’t be able to join and just do as you please, there are expectations on members and joining a pod is a commitment.

Typically many pods will have a “like for like” or a “comment for comment” policy. Many will also want people to like and comment on new posts as soon as you can. So when the group is pinged with a new post, everyone is expected to go to that post, like and comment on it within the group’s deadline.

For novice Instagram users this will sound overwhelming, people who want to just get on the ladder and grow could be alarmed by the intensity of something like this. Let me just emphasise again, this is intense, this is hard work and it is not for the faint of heart. You will be expected to give as much as you get and it is an investment in your time and work if you want it. Instagram is an interesting platform at the moment, growing organically can be done really easily if you put in the work and it takes work. It takes regular posts, interacting with commenters on your posts, jumping into the explore tab every day, commenting on stories and reaching out through messages.

Think about it this way, many serious Instagrammers are posting at least three times a day, at least! If you have 20 people in a pod posting three times a day and you are expected to like and comment on those posts in a certain window of time – it is hard work.

What happens if you get placed in a pod and it is too overwhelming?

Simple, you can leave. No hard feelings, no animosity. While you are a member of a pod you will be expected to commit to the rules and play by them but if it is too much and too intense you are free to leave at any time of course.

Ideally you want to be in a pod which is flexible on rules, not insanely strict and has an easy to manage number of members. There are pods which have a rule that you comment and like in the first hour however if you are busy you can catch up before the end of the day on everyone’s posts which also works out well in the algorithm. If you are landed in a pod which is too much just bail out and try for another pod which is more suited to your needs.

Really it is all about finding a balance between what you can commit and what you want from a pod.

Are they a good thing or a bad thing to take part in?

Are you gaming the system by taking part in Instagram pods? Well the simple answer is yes. The benefit for joining them is certainly there, users who join pods and post regular daily content see a consistent rise in followers.

It is all about fast engagement right now, Instagram have made it that way and as far as I see it pods are allowing people to find each other and engage on content they would be interested in regardless and may not have found otherwise. The big downside to comment pods is that it can feel less authentic and pretty much fake if you end up in a low quality comment pod. If you are in a comment pod where members are posting the same comments every time or only reply with emoji comments it is going to stick out as lacking in authenticity.

I wouldn’t write off the idea of them if you like the sound of using them. If Instagram pods can make it happen for you, if they can grow your engagement and your brand/business then why ignore it? Growing yourself organically is always the best way to go but if you want to use an Instagram comment pod to leverage that growth then it could prove to be valuable to you. If you land in a good Instagram pod with quality posters and commenters then you are all set. Instagram power users hated the changes by the algorithm and this is simply a way of fighting and trying to help each other grow despite the algorithm adjustment.