I know what you’re thinking…
Instagram Pods sound like some weird sci-fi story where people of the future plug into a Pod and connect themselves to Instagram…forever.
Well, don’t worry. We’re not there …yet.
Although Instagram Pods are not as cool as the sci-fi scenario above, they are a method for becoming more connected on Instagram.
Instagram Pods are exclusive, invite-only groups of Instagram users, businesses, or brands with a similar following.
The goal of forming a Pod is to connect with a community of like-minded Instagrammers and help one another organically increase followers and engagement. I use the term organic because Instagram Pods are made of real people with real Instagram accounts liking and commenting on photos, for real.
So, what is everything you need to know about Instagram Pods? And how can you start an Instagram Pod of your own?
Read on to find out!
Where Do Instagram Pods Come From and Why?
Instagram’s algorithm update
The algorithm, implemented August 15th, 2016, was a MAJOR change for Instagram users who were used to seeing their feed in reverse-chronological order.
“As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most.” —Instagram’s Blog
How does Instagram’s algorithm work?
Instead of seeing posts in reverse-chronological order, posts are displayed based on what Instagram believes is relevant and popular to each user.
According to Instagram, the relevancy of a post is determined by the following characteristics:
- The likelihood the user is interested in the content
- The relationship the user has with the person posting
- The timeliness of the post
The popularity of a post is determined based on engagement.
Engagement refers to the number of likes, comments, shares, and views a picture or video receives. The higher and faster the engagement, the more likely a post will be posted to Instagram’s Explore Page.
The Explore Page is unique to each user based on similar posts they’ve liked and accounts they follow.
Therefore, if your post makes it to the Explore Page, it will be seen by a larger number of users who are interested in your posts and will (hopefully) follow your Instagram account.
How does the algorithm affect Instagram users?
The new algorithm is all about the user.
If your neighbor adopts a new puppy or there is a popping party in your city, you’ll be sure to see it on your Instagram.
How does the algorithm affect businesses on Instagram?
With over 700 million users, it’s harder than ever to have your business account noticed by the Instagram community.
This is where Instagram Pods come into play. These Pods are designed to help businesses or brands beat the algorithm by increasing engagement and followers.
Read on to find out how Instagram Pods function.
How Can You Start an Instagram Pod?
Ideally, you would join a Pod containing Instagram users who are well-known in the online community like vloggers, bloggers, and influencers.
Amanda Bootes, food, fitness, and lifestyle blogger, is part of 4 Instagram Pods and knows just how exclusive they can be:
“You need to be invited into them from the creator, or by someone that is already inside. You will normally be accepted based on your content and if you fit the theme, such as beauty, food, fitness.”
If you’re just starting out, then it’s a lot less likely that you’ll be asked to join a more popular Instagram Pod. If that’s the case, you can still start your own Instagram Pod.
5 Steps For Starting an Instagram Pod
1.Choose 5-8 like-minded Instagrammers
Choose Instagrammers who:
- Post consistently
- Post creatively
- Post about the same topics as you
- Share a similar follow count as you
Pro Tip: Check out the Facebook group “The Gram Gang.” Once you’re accepted, you can find many Instagrammers looking to join a Pod.
2. Send a direct message to each Instagrammer
Send a direct message to each Instagrammer that you’d like to have as part of your Pod.
Use this template if you’re stuck on what to say.
I’m looking for a talented group of like-minded entrepreneurs to help and support one another on Instagram. We can fight back against Instagram’s new algorithm through organized and dedicated engagement via an Instagram Pod.
I believe that your creative content and similar audience are a perfect fit for the Pod. Would you be interested in joining our group of creatives? Please let me know!
I look forward to hearing from you!
3. Create a group and name for the Instagram Pod
Choose a snappy name that will get the group excited about supporting one another.
4. Send a welcome message and establish ground rules
Check out this template for inspiration:
I want to welcome you to the [TITLE] Instagram Pod!
I want you to think of the Pod as a collective group of badass engagement boosters who want to help you succeed.
How the Pod is going to work:
- We will use this group to notify one another when we upload a post to Instagram (for maximum engagement, we should notify each other right away after a post).
- Everyone must like and comment on each member’s post shortly after the member has notified us.
- Comments must be more than four words long to boost engagement.
- Comments should be unique to the post. Avoid generic phrases like “Very cool” and “Love it!”
- Tag the Pod member in your comment to make it even more personal.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
I’m so excited to get started and can’t wait to see what you remarkable individuals post next!
5. Build relationships outside the Pod
Building real relationships on Instagram is what will truly help your Instagram account shine!
Pro Tip: Schedule a Skype date to get to know each Pod member a little better.
Are Instagram Pods Worth It?
Before you get too excited about Instagram Pods, there is another side of the story: Many Instagrammers believe that Instagram Pods are not as effective as some claim.
Fashion and lifestyle Instagrammer Alicia Tenise lets us know why she left her Instagram Pod. “The first thing I hated about Pods was the forced comments,” says Alicia.
Alicia goes on to explain, “I didn’t notice any real change in my like count either when I was participating in Pods. It just inflated my comment count to an unrealistic number.”
“I totally get that we all want to support each other. There’s nothing wrong with supporting a fellow blogger with a like or a comment. Comment Pods just bothered me in general because it was so blatant that the same 14 girls were leaving lengthy comments on every single one of my photos.” —Alicia
Are Instagram Pods Bad?
Based on Alicia’s experience, there are downfalls to Instagram Pods:
- Lazy Commenting: After a while, members of Instagram Pods become lazy, and comments start to sound out of place and disingenuous.
- Skewed ratios: When a post only has 100 likes and 60 comments things look a little skewed, and trust me, people notice.
- Repetitive Commenters: When the same accounts are consistently posting on your photos, it starts to look fishy.
If you’re interested in another opinion, check out Instagrammer and vlogger Honestly Aine’s experience with Instagram Pods.
Another problem with Instagram Pods is that they may not always be a reliable method for generating followers and engagement. What if Instagram changes their algorithm again?
Instagram’s Platform Policy states that users can’t “participate in any ‘like,’ ‘share,’ ‘comment,’ or ‘follower’ exchange programs.” This rule includes Instagram Pods.
There you have it, folks! The whole story on Instagram Pods.
They are a great tool for upping your engagement and follower count. Just remember that they’re not for everyone.
Pro Tip: Use Instagram Pods to start meaningful relationships with fellow Instagrammers.
Create a Pod, up your engagement, and ask members to meet up for real!
Building real relationships can lead to collaborations that expose your Instagram profile to relevant followers that are genuinely interested in your account, without relying on Instagram Pods.
Now that you have the whole story, what do you think about Instagram Pods? Will you join one? Let us know in the comments below!