In June 2016, Instagram rolled out its infamous new algorithm, which now displays posts according to popularity over the previous chronological order.
Instagram influencers were some of the most vocal opponents of this change, complaining that now the process for how to get Instagram followers organically is much harder than in the past.
But since complaining is rarely capable of creating change on it’s own, Instagram’s influencers came up with a sneaky way for how to get Instagram followers, and bring engagement back up: Instagram comment pods.
In this post we’ll teach you everything you need to know about Instagram Pods: What Is an Instagram Pod, How to Join an Instagram Pod, Instagram Pod Rules, and much more. So keep reading!
What is an Instagram Comment Pod?
According to photographer Natalie Franke, the name “comment pod” got its inspiration from the word pod, which is often associated with “a family of dolphins who live together in harmony and support one another.”
If you’re not an influencer, you may not have even realized that Instagram comment pods even exist. Instagram comment pods, also known as “engagement pods” (or “Insta pods”) are essentially a mechanism for Instagram influencers to help each other boost engagement with implications for how to get Instagram followers.
The structure of a comment pod includes a private group or group message (usually on Instagram), composed of 10-20 Instagram users who operate within the same niche.
Instagram users make use of this thread to inform each other of their new Instagram posts, and comment pod members support each other by liking or commenting each post that gets sent to the group. When it works, it’s an impressive collaborative effort that makes each group member’s account better for participating.
Instagram comment pods help a post get a fair amount of engagement immediately after posting, which is necessary to be a contender for being featured on the Instagram “Explore” page for a relevant hashtag used within the post. A post that gets picked up on the “Explore” page tends to give it enough exposure to achieve some level of virility, helping an influencer with how to get Instagram followers.
Regardless of if a post gets picked up by the “Explore” page, having engagement from other niche influencers can prime other Instagram users to engage with it, too. It’s the bandwagon effect in action, or social proof, if you will. For more on why this works, read Dr. Rob Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
Do Instagram Comment Pods Work?
At least according to Instagram influencers, yes. Instagram comment pods can definitely help with those struggling with how to get Instagram followers.
Instagram user Amanda Rose, who works in digital marketing, has been quoted stating that before being part of an Instagram comment pod, she used to only get 30-40 likes per post (or 60 on a good day), and 1 or 2 spam comments.
After being part of an Instagram comment pod, she was able to get an average of 120 likes and 40 comments per post, which is 3-4x more likes than she used to get, and almost 30-60x more comments!
The Various Types of Instagram Comment Pods
According to Franke, there are essentially 3 types of comment pods:
- A group message on Instagram
- A Facebook group
- “Turn on Notifications” for the influencers in your comment pod
The first type of Instagram comment pod is the most common, and takes place over a group message on Instagram. Everyone posts on the group message when they have a new post. The other members comment and like the post.
Some groups have moved away from Instagram’s built-in messenger, to other social networking sites and messaging apps, since they’re paranoid that Instagram might be aware of what they’re doing and as a result, might shut down their efforts.
The second kind of Instagram comment pod is the Facebook group, with a similar process for engagement as detailed above. People use Facebook groups for “safety reasons”, but as Facebook and Instagram are both under the same parent company, this seems like a futile effort.
These Instagram comment pods tend to be small, but some popular groups get quite large. Take for example the Instagram Posse Facebook group, which is run by Liz Dean and Teri Didjurgis and now has over 20,000 members. The Rising Tide Society Facebook group, whose members tend to be creative entrepreneurs, is another excellent group to join in search of Instagram comment pods.
A final version of Instagram comment pods has members of the group “Turn on Post Notifications” for each participating member. This way, when someone posts, they don’t have to rely on messaging, and instead get notified immediately to show the post some love.
Oftentimes, this method is used in conjunction with a private group message to remind people to take action eventually, even if they can’t immediately when they get a new post notification.
How to Join an Instagram Comment Pod
Amada Bootes, a lifestyle blogger that works in PR, says that Instagram comment pods are strictly by invitation only.
To join an Instagram comment pod, you get asked by users in the same niche, or you request to be part of a group. If you have enough of an influence or following with other niche influencers, you could of course also opt to create your own Instagram comment pod.
You can seek Instagram comment pods out by joining Instagram-themed Facebook groups, like The Gram Gang or Instagram Marketing Mastermind. But before you decide to join one (especially a large comment pod), remember that participation can end up being a huge responsibility. You will constantly have to give like for like and comment for comment to be an active member in good standing, which can certainly get exhausting.
Because of this, try finding one perfect Instagram comment pod that fits your niche, and isn’t so big that you’re drowning in extra work for the purpose of boosting Instagram engagement. You can always join additional Instagram comment pods later on if you don’t think it will be a large burden on your time.
Instagram Comment Pod Rules
To make it fair for everyone to participate, Instagram comment pods have a few basic rules. Generally, the rules include something similar to the following:
- Write comments that are more than 4 words
- Avoid general comments like “love it”, or emoji comments
- Show intention. Make relevant comments on the photos.
- Tag the user in the comment gives it a personal touch
If a comment pod member stops participating, but still submits posts for engagement, it is grounds for expulsion for an Instagram comment pod. Even if you can get away with it, it’s certainly bad karma in the Instagram influencer community.
A Case Against Instagram Comment Pods
On a technical level, this means that if you always engage with a certain user’s content, it will appear at the top of your feed. This also means that if a user is super popular, but you don’t engage with them, they won’t appear any higher on your feed.
When you’re involved with Instagram comment pods, you get notified to keep liking and commenting posts. Because of this activity, the posts from the people in your comment pod keep going to the top of your feed–because you keep interacting with them!
One Instagram influencer compares participation in an Instagram comment pods to a catty high school clique. While this is certainly not the experience of most participating influencers, it’s easy to see how Instagram users with large followings could get a big head about themselves and the comment pods they create, which can have a negative effect on those wishing to participate in the same space as them.
Sometimes, Instagram comment pods feel a bit mechanical, and the actions of others on your content will make it hard know what content actually resonates best with your audience. On top of that, there’s something to be said for the amount of effort that goes into being part of an Instagram comment pod.
Finally, there’s the chance that Instagram could shut down comment pods and related users’ accounts down as a violation of the Terms of Service is enough to make anyone think twice about participating in one.
How to Get More Instagram Followers with Comment Pods
Instagram comment pods can be helpful in generating interaction, but can be tiring and mechanical over time, especially if the comment pod you’re apart of is unreasonably large. For best results, join one that is suited to your niche for more meaningful interaction.
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Have you ever been a part of an Instagram pod? What did you think?