I keep hearing about Instagram Engagement Pods.

“Are they worth it?” “Do you know of one I can join?” “These pods are my only source of engagement!”

I’m here to unleash some #RealTalk on these Instagram Engagement Pods and tell you to engage at your own risk.


“Hacking” The Instagram Algorithm

Last June, Instagram went with a Facebook-like feed where the platform ditched showing posts in chronological order.

Instead, Instagram opted for showing you photos you’d be most interested in seeing or engaging with.

They did this because, as they put it:

“On average, people miss 70 percent of their feeds. It’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share as Instagram has grown. Over the past few months, we brought this new way of ordering posts to a portion of the community, and we found that people are liking photos more, commenting more and generally engaging with the community in a more active way.”

Like Facebook, the more likes and comments your post receives immediately after posting, the better your post will perform.

Enter The Instagram Engagement Pod

Instagram Engagement Pods are formed by groups of business owners, marketers, bloggers, etc. who come together to like and leave valuable comments on each other’s posts.

These “signals” tell Instagram that the post is “important” and the algorithm should show the post to more people.

A few things to note:

  • Group members notify each other immediately when a post is live for quick engagement
  • The comments pod users leave aren’t spammy; they are valuable, “real” engagement
  • This is a REAL commitment; you have to give as much (or more) than you receive

Our friend Jenn Herman of Jenn’s Trends wrote a post about Instagram Pods earlier this year.

We reached out to her to get her point of view on whether or not these pods work, and this is what she had to say …

“I agree with you that they’re more work than they’re worth. However, there are advantages to building a good network of relevant supportive businesses which many pod members find invaluable. If you have the time (a lot of it), and you want to build more relationships, then, yes they can be valuable. But, for the average business, pods are not going to drive engagement and results of any significant value.”

The Cold, Hard Truth

I promised you #RealTalk regarding these Instagram Engagement Pods and here it is.

Talking with other marketers who have tried these pods, here’s the low, down, dirty truth:

  • Many pods don’t have enough members to really work (most marketers said an Instagram Engagement Pod should have about 20 people who are continuously engaging with content to make it successful)
  • It’s difficult to keep up with all the content and provide necessary and timely engagement such as likes and comments (and reacting in a timely manner is crucial since it signals Instagram about the quality of the content)
  • Over time, pod users drop off and so does your engagement
  • Some users reported that they didn’t get genuine comments (and it looks very obvious that you’re in a comment pod)
  • Savvy marketers found that they weren’t learning about the types of content their true audience likes to engage

In truth, what I heard from a lot of smart marketers was that cheating the algorithm is never worth it.

Ultimately, they understand that engagement from “pod posers” wasn’t helping them gain conversions or even insights into how their content is performing.

And those two things were far more important to these marketers than maaaaybe going viral.

Go Ahead, Fake It ‘Till You Make It!

I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t use Instagram Engagement Pods.

I can see the appeal for certain marketers or business owners.

Personally, though, I’ll choose real insights and audience behavior to help me make better data-driven decisions.

Remember Facebook Page Friday? Yeah, me too.

Raise your hand if that’s still working for you. Ahem. You get my point. 😉

Are you or would you consider using an Instagram Engagement Pod to boost your Instagram Engagement? Let me know in the comments section below!