Let's address the elephant in the room…
Before you give up on your engagement, remember there is always a solution to every predicament. Yes, it’s 2017 and Instagram has changed once again. Some of us may have noticed a decreasing engagement rate. This has become a huge challenge to overcome for each and every one of us.
As bloggers and influencers, our engagement rate is extremely important to our personal brand, the brands we partner with, and to personally each and every one of us. We want our followers to engage with our content and we definitely want to engage with our followers. Unfortunately, with Instagram constantly changing, the Instagram algorithm just does not make any sense anymore.
It's not just you
Just as many of you, I have tried just about everything to raise my engagement rate to what it used to be, but Instagram just seemed to hate me. Originally being on a television show really allowed me to have a high engagement rate, but soon as Instagram was changing once again, my engagement rate changed dramatically. I tried liking photos and I tried commenting on other photos hoping it would bring in traffic. Of course it brought in traffic, but it did not significantly change my comments and likes. Thus, this strategy did not really help in raising my engagement rate.
Sounds terrible, right? Well, one day while I was randomly commenting on posts created by other bloggers, I received a direct message on Instagram. In this direct message, I received my first invite to join what we call an “Instagram Pod.”
Intro to the Instagram Pod: What is it?
This may be the first time you've heard of Instagram Pods and you may be asking what exactly is an Instagram Pod? An Instagram Pod is a group consisting of Instagrammers, bloggers, and influencers who share posts with one another. In these groups, we exchanges likes and comments on each other’s posts. Instagram Pods were specifically created to help us increase our engagement rates and to support one another in growing in the Instagram community. Basically, we outsmarted Instagram’s algorithm and played the apps own game.
How do Instagram Pods work?
How do Instagram Pods work exactly? It’s easy! You just simply create a group of Instagram users on Instagram in your direct messages and share new posts with one another. However, to see a big change in your comments, likes, and engagement rate, each user needs to be consistently active and they must engage with one another. You may also want to be part of multiple Instagram Pods.
My Results with Instagram Pods
I started off the same way. In the beginning, I was personally only part of one group and it was on Instagram. At that time, I was happy with the start results, but I wanted a higher engagement rate. Soon, I moved onto Instagram Pods on Telegram. These Instagram Pods on Telegram typically consist of 70-100 people. Rules may vary from Pod to Pod. You could be commenting and liking only on the last ten new posts or liking and commenting every single post within 24 hours. It really depends on the pod and the admins. These pods can be hard to manage at times, but I am always trying my best to be on top of all of the posts.
Your next question may be how do we make sure that everyone is commenting and liking each and every post in these pods? There are different ways that the admins of the group check that no post is missed. There are tools and apps developed and used for that by the admins. Typically, they have everyone’s Instagram handle listed in a program that automatically checks it for you.
But what if I don't have time?
Well, what happens if you do not have time to be engaging for whatsoever reason? It is completely understandable. All of us are understanding. We are all humans at the end of the day and we all understand that each and every one of us has a busy schedule and personal life. I personally travel, work, attend events etc. and I assume you all do too. There are days where I am not active in my Pods for a short period of time. This may be two days or three days, but that’s okay. I notify the group in advance that I will not be active. During this period, I do not share any posts within the groups, but when I do come back, I always catch up on the posts I have missed. Unfortunately, if you are inactive for a long extended period of time, you may be kicked out of the group for being inactive.
You may also wonder what happens if a person misses or mistakenly skips comments or likes on a post or posts. Missing a comment or like typically results with a warning. You have three warnings before you are kicked out of the group. We do this for the reason that we want to be fair towards everyone and at the end of the day we all want to raise our engagement rate.
Best Tips and Practices for Instagram Pods
My number one tip for those of you who are interested in joining Instagram Pods is that I would suggest starting off with a small group. It can be really tough to handle multiple groups at times. You may feel overwhelmed, but once you are ready and feel confident enough that you will be able to manage bigger groups, my suggestion to you is to join a Facebook group called “The Gram Gang”. You need to be approved for this Facebook group, but once you are approved, you can find various posts for different Instagram Pods and even posts about creating new Instagram Pods. You can find groups related to your interests and content.
What are the benefits of this method?
What are the benefits of Instagram Pods? As mentioned previously, your biggest advantage is that your engagement rate, comments, and likes will grow dramatically. I have seen my own engagement rate change dramatically, so please trust me on this one. Secondly, you will definitely see an increase in followers. By commenting on other posts, other users see your comment and they will click on your profile. If they like your content they will follow you.
So don’t give up just yet. If my numbers went up, yours can too!
*You can follow Urszula on Instagram at @urszulala
My biggest issue with Instagram pods is this: you may be getting more likes and “engagement”, enough to fool a brand into thinking you have a loyal, authentic audience- but if everyone is only liking and commenting in order to keep up with the pod, their engagement is far from genuine, and they’re likely not going to be your ideal customer- you know, the one you want to show to brands to prove you have the influence to sell products to! So yes, you’re tricking the system to get more numbers but ultimately you’re also shooting yourself in the foot. Plus, full disclosure- I’ve tried it myself and it was tiresome. I didn’t like what everyone else posted all the time (and I’m sure the feeling was reciprocal!) and the thought of leaving canned comments of 3 words or more was irksome, not to mention made me feel like a big fat fake. Truth time: How many of us have receive generic comments like “Looking good, girl! ??” or simply “???” and been really irritated because you just know it’s a bot?? This is no different, really. I think if keeping up appearances with superficial likes is the end goal, then save your time and just buy your followers, likes and comments instead.
Thank you so much for this post! I have really been struggling with IG engagement.
This is interesting because I was a part of an Instagram pod for a little while. I ‘met’ some cool new girls and we still follow each other now. We decided to stop posting to our pod because several of the girls noticed that their numbers were dropping. Have you heard anymore about this happening for others?