The Dangers of Instagram Pods
When Instagram first changed their algorithms at the beginning of this year, the blogging community outraged. I’m not totally sure, because it went on for a while, but I believe this happened around the same time I entered the world of blogging. After reading so many posts about this new “impossible to beat” algorithm, I spent a long time thinking there was really no point in Instagram – I have a personal account, which is private, but I had been toying with the idea of making a new account to suit my blog. Eventually I succumbed, thinking: How hard can it be, really? The answer was: Pretty hard. After the original kick up the butt, my small Twitter following seemed to form itself. The same did not happen on Instagram.
Just a few weeks in, a tweet popped up on my timeline mentioning something called an “Instagram Pod”. Hm. What’s one of those, then? As every one of us does in this technological world, I typed the phrase into Google and learned a lot in a short amount of time. A small group chat on Instagram where bloggers and other content creators get together in order to like and comment on one another’s posts in hopes of beating the algorithm. That sounded like something I needed – I had no idea how to promote myself properly, and this seemed like the perfect solution. I sat on the idea for a while until another tweet popped up on my feed recruiting for a new pod. I expressed my interest and was soon introduced to the group chat.
Now, I read a lot of positive things about pods back when they first became a thing, but Instagram quickly caught on to the phenomenon. Word on the street is that they’re actively lowering the “value” of posts which have the same pattern of first engagers who are in a group chat together, therefore being in a pod may be doing your Instagram more harm than good. Yeah, it’s just a theory, but a lot of people have noticed a direct correlation between being in a pod, and lowered organic engagement whether it’s for this reason or another sneaky algorithm Instagram have going on beneath the surface. I personally noticed a spike in my engagement after I left my pods.
There are some great things pods are good for, however. I’ve been introduced to and been able to chat with so many amazing bloggers and women that I would never have been introduced to had I not decided to join pods (I was in two). I actually felt incredibly reluctant to leave them, and in both cases suggested that we move our group chat over to twitter and just comment on posts as we come across them, because I am genuinely interested in the content posted by the ladies I met in these pods, and I didn’t want the group chats to end.
Although I miss being in pods and preferred having lots of comments and posts on my Instagram feed, the number of likes and comments from organic sources have significantly increased since I left my pods, and I think that speaks volumes. Whether Instagram are actively targeting them or whether they do just wrap your algorithms in knots, I know for sure that they were doing my posts more harm than good. They are also against Instagram’s guidelines, so you’re at risk of having your account inactivated or deleted if you’re discovered to be using pods. Group chats are an amazing way of meeting other bloggers, but to have such a rhythmical pattern to your commenting is bad for your exposure, I can tell you that for sure. Instagram is a brutal game at the minute, as most users know, but using pods is no longer a way around it.
Good luck with the new algorithms – I think we all need it!
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