Are instagram pods truly helpful? Why I stopped using them
Let me preface this post by saying this post is about MY personal experience and MY personal opinion. This is in no way me trying to persuade anyone to join nor leave engagement pods on Instagram. I can only speak from my personal account and what I noticed.
Now that that disclaimer has been shared, let’s talk about instagram engagement pods and why I ultimately have decided not to use them.
Let’s go back to when the concept of Instagram pods first hit the scene. Instagram had just introduced the new algorithm and people were losing their minds. This is NO exaggeration… we were all truly losing our minds.
“Dear Instagram” letters were drafted by the dozens. Blog posts dedicated to letting Instagram know just how much we hated this new idea were posted one after the other. We just weren’t having it. We wanted the chronological timeline back and we wanted it NOW.
Then the brilliant idea of engagement pods started to circulate and we all breathed a sigh of relief. In case you still haven’t heard of an engagement pod or you don’t exactly understand the concept, here it is:
Basically you and a group of people (sizes of the group can vary) create a group message on some platform. Some stick to Instagram but I’ve also heard of people taking it over to Facebook. Either way, the main point of the group is to engage with each other’s posts.
So the process looks like this: you make a new post on Instagram, then go to the group message and share your new post, and the other people in the group then go to your post to like it and leave comments.
Sounds simple right?
At first it sounded like an awesome way to beat the algorithm to me. I would still try to post at opportune times of course, but I knew I had guaranteed likes and comments coming my way via the engagement pod. Score!
But the longer I stayed in the engagement pod, the more it started to look like one of those “all that glitters is not gold” situations. A few things about this setup stood out to me like red flags.
For one, the engagement didn’t feel authentic. I would post a picture and all of the comments would be “beautiful photo!” or “wow, this is great”, or some general variation of that. Having guaranteed interactions on my photos felt great, but I wasn’t getting genuine interaction on what I was posting. At times I was sure the people commenting from the pod weren’t even reading my captions (which was disheartening because I spend a good bit of time on my captions).
Because of this I couldn’t tell if what I was posting was what people really wanted to see from me or not because the people commenting were literally obligated to per our engagement pod rules.
Now, if you’re not looking for authentic feedback then that shouldn’t be an issue. However, my whole brand is built on helping creatives grow. I want to inspire, educate, and encourage fellow creatives along their journey. I mean… that’s literally what my bio on Instagram says.
So the lack of authentic interaction meant I was also lacking authentic feedback. And authentic feedback is SO critical if you’re looking to serve a particular community. You need to know what that community wants and needs. That type of information is vital in order for you to fulfill your purpose.
And since that is my purpose, the lack of authenticity was a hinderance for me.
The other reason I decided to forego engagement pods was because they eventually started to feel like a job. It was fun at first getting the notifications then going to the posts and leaving your comment. It was almost like a fun Secret Santa situation, but without the necessity of a holiday. The reciprocity felt great. Until it didn’t. Having to keep a constant watchful eye on the group message started to become tiresome.
After that situation I joined a group that had a limited timeframe of when you could sign up to participate. That made it a bit easier, but then I found myself having to interact with 30+ profiles at times. And I’ll be honest, it wasn’t always easy coming up with something unique to say about each photo. So then I found myself falling into the group of people leaving disingenuous comments, and I didn’t like that feeling.
And don’t get me started on the people who shared their post but didn’t go back to like and comment on everyone else’s posts. I started to feel like a private eye detective, sifting through the list to make sure I was receiving engagement from everyone whose posts I had engaged on.
It was all TOO MUCH.
I decided then and there I was done with engagement pods. I wanted to build a community as authentically as possible. If people like my photo, I want it to be because they actually enjoy seeing it on their feed. If someone takes out the time to comment on my post (because y’all know comments are hard to come by these days) I want it to be because they genuinely want to interact with me online.
I don’t want to feel obligated to engage with others anymore. And more than that, I don’t want anyone to feel obligated to engage with me.
Again, this isn’t me grabbing a pitchfork and calling for the banning of all engagement pods. Plenty of people see the awesome benefits of being active in pods and for them, the benefits far outweigh the cons.
For me, the benefits of going without surpasses the cons.
Do I have to work a bit harder to get engagement? Sure.
But is the feedback + information I receive much more valuable? Definitely.
Are you a part of engagement pods on Instagram? Have you found them useful or more of a hinderance?
I’d love to hear about your specific experience with engagement pods!