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.
6 Tips For Branding Your Instagram Feed
So, in case you didn’t know, I’ve recently started working as a virtual assistant and social media manager. Owning two businesses has helped me gain first-hand experience with social media marketing. My first business, Root Avenue, was instantly successful by using Instagram as my main marketing tool. In fact, I would say that a majority of the small apparel businesses that started a 1-5 years ago can thank Instagram for most of their success.
Unfortunately, Instagram has changed a lot over the last year. While it is still a great marketing tool, it takes a lot more effort to get your product and brand seen by consumers.
With that said, it is definitely still possible to have amazing success on Instagram. There is ONE main thing that I highly recommend you do, and that is to have a clear vision of your brand and portray it across all of your social media, ESPECIALLY your Instagram.
I will be doing a whole post on branding your business, but for now I am going to focus on branding your Instagram.
6 Tips For Branding Your Instagram Feed
1. KEEP YOUR FEED CONSISTENT
Find your style and stay true to it. If you like warm tones and nature, then stick to it! If you like cool tones and city backdrops, then stick to that! Consistency is the KEY to branding! A couple things that you can do to keep your feed consistent is adhering to a color scheme/filter, and creating a pattern for your posts.
I really love @lizakoshy‘s feed, and think it’s a great example of a consistent feed that sticks to the same filter and tone. (I am not sure which filter this is, but I love it!)
2. PICK A THEME
This goes hand-in-hand with branding. One reason that “niche” accounts do so well is because they focus on one thing which draws people in. Picking a theme goes along with being consistent. You don’t NEED to have a theme, but it really does help!
A good example of a brand that does this is @thebeeandthefox. They have that vintage/70’s vibe.
3. KEEP YOUR FEED VISUALLY APPEALING
A good looking feed is going to have more success gaining and keeping followers. If someone lands on a page that is visually appealing they’re more likely to browse for a while.
@vickiee_yo‘s Instagram catches your eye right away, and keeps your attention.
4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR ADVICE
Sometimes a second (or third or fourth) pair of eyes can help when you’re stumped on what direction to go. Don’t be afraid to reach out to marketing managers, or even creative friends, and ask for advice on how to style your feed. Often times I will go through my feed and delete pictures that I feel stick out (in a bad way) and clash with my tone.
One of my clients had a great grasp on their brand, and their website is amazing. When I took over their social media accounts I noticed that their Instagram did not portray the vibe of their brand. Here is a side by side look at their feed before I took over, and after.
Left is before, right is after. I totally brightened the feed and made sure that their brand’s message (“There is always a reason for a party!”) was portrayed to people that came across their page.
5. REACH OUT TO SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS/BLOGGERS THAT FIT YOUR BRAND
Just because a social media influencer has a large following or takes good pictures doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good reason to reach out to them. If their style doesn’t match yours you might not want to use their photos on your feed, and their audience might not be the customers you are trying to reach. Find people whose photography style fits your tone, and whose personal style/interests match your target market.
@nenaandco is a great example of this. They work with a lot of social media influencers, and they all have that boho style and/or an adventurous feed.
6. UTILIZE HASHTAGS
While hashtags don’t have anything to do with the look of your feed, they do have the ability attract your target market. Instagram has recently been cracking down on activity that looks like spam, and unfortunately using the same hashtags over and over again can cause your posts to be shadow banned. So, I suggest having 3-5 different sets of hashtags to choose from. Use as many as you can think of. (Up to 30 per set.) And post them in the caption or comments of your post.
Those are my six tips for branding your Instagram feed. I hope you were able to take away at least one thing from this post!
If you want to reach out to me for branding advice/social media management or even a second set of eyes on your social media pages, don’t be afraid to holla at me! Click Here to email me.
Instagram stories has been a game changer for business accounts on Instagram. I know that a lot of business owners are struggling with the algorithm changes, “shadow banning”, and new business settings. Many are fearful that Instagram will soon be like Facebook, as far as business pages go. This means that businesses will most likely have to pay if they want their posts to be seen. While I totally understand why Instagram would do this (very smart business move on their end), it is already proving to be very harmful to small business accounts that are trying to promote their products.
Thankfully, Instagram threw small businesses a bone, and came out with Instagram stories. I highly recommend taking advantage of this tool and use it to it’s full potential.
Here are some of my tips for using Instagram stories for your business (or blog).
1. DIRECT FOLLOWERS TO OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Stories is a great place to promote your other social media platforms such as Pinterest and Facebook. I created a couple photos that can be used in your stories, that you can save and use! Once you upload them to your stories be sure to add the URL, example: pinterest.com/britt_kav For the mailing list photo, be sure to add directions for how to join your mailing list. (Tap each photo, tap + hold to save to your phone.)
2. DIRECT FOLLOWERS TO YOUR LATEST INSTAGRAM POST
A lot of times Instagram will burry your post, and a good majority of your followers won’t even see it. (Thanks a lot, new algorithm!) Using stories to direct followers to your latest post can be a great tool to help boost your views. Screen shotting your page and posting an arrow to your post is one way to send them there. Example:
(My phone is on the charger. Don’t judge me.)
Put a sticker over your post to get your followers interested in what it is! (SoOooO mysterious.)
You could also post something like this (feel free to save and use these):
The arrow points to your profile picture, which can be clicked on. 😉
3. INCLUDE EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODES
Creating a custom discount code exclusively for people who watch your stories is a great way to see how many sales you’ve gained just from your story viewers. You could even make it fun and have a “Happy Hour Sale”, and delete the story once the sale is over. This will also encourage people to keep an eye on your stories.
4. LET YOUR FOLLOWERS GET TO KNOW YOU
Instagram stories has been a great way for business owners & bloggers to open up with their followers and allow them to get a glimpse into their life/home/office/etc. I didn’t know the face behind a lot of shops until Instagram stories launched. Customers love to know who they are buying from. Make sure to stay professional, remember…there are some things your followers DON’T want/need to see. (Trust me, I’ve unfollowed some pages because of their stories.)
5. GO LIVE
The newest Instagram feature is the ability to go LIVE! Something about watching other people live is just so fascinating. One advantage is the fact that your followers will be notified that you are live. I suggest planning out exactly what you are going to talk about, or at least have some sort of idea, because it can be easy to lose your train of thought. (And it can be quite intimidating.) Use the LIVE tool to engage with your followers, allow them to ask you questions, or use it to ask them questions! (Examples: what items they love, what they want more of, where they’re from, etc.)
I would love to hear if this post was helpful to you, or if you have some of your own suggestions/helpful tips!