Interaction pods are the new way for Instagramers to gain likes and comments. I am completely against them and I want to tell you why.
In the beginning there was Instagram, and it was good:
Okay so, when I opened my first business (Root Avenue) I really had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t have a marketing plan or goals or anything. If I’m being completely honest, I saw other moms starting businesses selling kid’s stuff on Instagram and thought “well, that looks easy enough!”
While I always had a passion for design and marketing, seeing other people sell stuff via Instagram is what really pushed me to actually start my own business.
When I opened up shop my only strategy was to use Instagram to gain a following and market to other moms. My company did VERY well for having no strategy and primarily utilizing Instagram to market my shop. I hit 20K followers after just one year, and gained all followers organically (I did not pay for followers.)
My interaction was never outstanding, but my sales were always consistent. Even at around 35K followers my posts rarely hit 200 likes (sometimes I barely hit 100), however, I did not really care because I knew this was not a reflection of my sales.
THE DREADED NEW IG ALGORITHM OF 2017
Before the new algorithm actually took effect I remember business owners/social media influencers freaking out and fearing it would be the end of their careers.
What’s funny is the fact that people were crying about their poor engagement even BEFORE the algorithm actually took place.
Once the changes hit, people claimed to notice a drastic change in engagement. While I do think that it did have an effect on some people, I also assume that their engagement wasn’t that great to begin with and they were using the new algorithm as an excuse for poor engagement.
Instagram “Stories” came out soon after the new algorithm, and I think that a majority of Instagram users stopped scrolling “up” as long as they used to and started spending more time scrolling left (watching “stories”).
This is just a theory, but the fact that everything is jumbled out of order makes it harder to tell where you left off, therefore I assume that people are not scrolling as long.
THE HONEST TRUTH
I think the reason why businesses in particular are getting lower engagement is because the content is, first of all selling to people, and second of all it can get BORING and repetetive. I follow a lot of kid’s clothing/accessory shops and the posts are all the same thing- kid’s wearing cute clothes. After a while it gets boring.
PEOPLE ARE SEEING YOUR POSTS
So, my Root Avenue account with over 35K followers would usually average 75-150 likes per post. However, when I would post a funny meme I would get 300-900 likes! That is a HUGE difference! So this just proves to me that it is not about who is seeing your post, it’s about CONTENT. (I am using Root Avenue as an example, but I have noticed it with other accounts as well.)
COMMENT / INTERACTION PODS
People thought that they could cheat the system by creating DM groups where everyone would share their post and the group would like and/or comment on it. I gave it a try and created a couple groups of my own, and I also joined a couple. At one point I was in 4 groups, but I rarely sent my posts to the groups unless it was a sponsored post (which I will get to later). I also manage other social media accounts and interacted in pods for them. I saw my organic engagement go way down after joining these groups, as well as the engagement of the accounts I managed.
I also noticed bloggers and shops getting hundreds of generic comments, which put a bad taste in my mouth. (Example: “LOVE THIS” commented 100 times. *eye roll*)
Here are some reasons I have heard for joining pods:
1. It will help boost your post.
My opinion: I do not believe this to be true. I think that it it will only boost your future posts for the people that are engaging with you. I manage several accounts, and I know that if there is a certain account that I engage with a lot their posts will almost always show up in my feed right away.
2. It makes you look good.
My opinion: Let’s be honest, if you see an account getting good interaction it automatically looks more credible. It’s sometimes hard to tell fake interaction from organic interaction…which is the problem!
3. It will help you land collaborations. (bloggers/influencers)
My opinion: I see some of these influencers getting loads of generic comments, and then landing deals with huge companies. At first glance it looks like these bloggers/influencers have great interaction, when really they are just in a shit-ton of pods! This is actually really sad for the companies that are hiring them, because they are being fooled. It is almost like LYING in my opinion.
Why Businesses Should NOT Use Pods:
So, I get why influencers use pods (to land collaborations), but I do not understand why shops are doing it. Yes, I get that it makes you look better, but it is ultimately a waste of time and energy. TIME IS MONEY! After working with other shops and interacting in pods for them I did not noticed ANY rise in organic engagement or sales. This means that it is a total waste of time. If you have had a different experience and are gaining sales and organic engagement then by all means keep doing it, but I would really find that hard to believe.
I hope that I didn’t come across harsh or judgmental, I just really feel like pods are ruining Instagram. I hate the new algorithm as much as everyone else, but I do not think pods are the answer to better engagement. I think that content, authenticity, and good branding should be the main focus to gain organic engagement.