A little while ago…possibly a year or so…a phrase kept popping up in Facebook groups and in blogging circles. The phrase was ‘pods’ or ‘Instagram pods’. Something up until that point I’d never heard about.
The premise behind these pods is that it’s made up of a group of users and they all agree to like and/or comment on each other's photos, this is usually done with a certain time. Ideally a soon after posting as possible. The plan behind this is to make the Instagram algorithm see this post as popular and in turn, show it higher on other people's feed (those outside of the pod).
For me, this comes across as iffy, as trying to trick the system for a gain…almost as if this is some form of a game. For me, I’m not entirely sure how this sits with me.
I’ve been trying to read as much about this topic as possible and comment as I see it.
I will try to explain as best as I can.
If you’re outside of the blogging bubble there’s a strong chance you won’t have heard of these, you won’t know the ‘game’ some play and just go on posting your photos…trust me that is a good thing.
The several types of pods, the first is a more casual pod and are usually set up with a collective of 20ish users and this is done via Facebook groups, Twitter DMs. There’s not such a rush and real-life gets in the way and nothing is said.
The other pods tend to be a more structured group that has a set of rules and you daren’t break them. These are larger groups often with 50+ people. You have a set time to add your post and must like/comment within a time frame otherwise you run the risk of getting kicked out or called out in the group. In this group, you can find yourself having to like 100s of strangers posts on a daily basis.
All of this is with one aim in mind, you get more likes on your post and in turn hope that it is shown on more followers feed. The issue is you generally don’t choose who’s in the pod so you will be liking photos that probably don’t fit with your audience, so for gaining followers I can’t see it being of much benefit. Plus you interaction after that initial burst isn’t going to grow much beyond that pod.
What does Instagram make of all of this? There’s no word officially from them, but people are liking and commenting on Instagram which is a good thing from their point of view and as it's keeping more and more active users on their app I guess they don’t mind.
Or do they see this as cheating the system much like the like bots, they recently shut down one of the biggest and promise to get rid of more. Is this in their eyes no different from buying likes?
From what people have said it doesn’t appear to be having any negative impact on their account, the growth has been small but it’s a method that some see as worth it. In turn, Instagram sees the stats and it shows they have more and more active users.
The has been mentions that similar to the way Reddit works with it’s up vote method that certain accounts count for less. So the theory would be that if an account continues to like your post within a certain time frame, Instagram wouldn’t give it any merit and it would have no barring on the algorithm. It seems a long stretch and would mean what is the point of the notification setting to alert you to when an account has posted.
In the Facebook groups that I’m admin of talk of pods comes up quite a lot and when people comment the thing that seems to shine through is that if you can get the right mix of people it actually creates a friendly and welcoming community. It seems to be bringing people together and taking Instagram back to the way it used to be.
If you can get in the right pod with accounts that are the same audience as yours then it seems to be all ‘good’, the issue with accounts that are so far removed then there is no advantage. Plus you will run the risk that you’re having to like photos that really aren’t that good. Photos of travel bloggers who can’t take a good photo. This then means that Instagram Discover feed will show you more of this type of photo and make that null and void.
I started off with the mindset that these pods are a way of cheating, and of course some are gaining a leg up but the truth is the gain is of no great advantage, all that happens is their account gets screwed and it becomes fake. The explore page becomes fake and it goes away from the exact thing they wanted to achieve.
Pods it managed well can help, a group of friends liking each others posts is how it used to be when the feed went in chronological order. Until the time comes when Instagram allows you to create ‘lists’ then it’s not such a bad thing. Pods gain no advantage but equally, people in the pods aren’t punished either.
Maybe it’s the whole name like pods, comment pods…it gives off a negative vibe, a friendpod sounds more welcoming.
As always good content will rise above and get seen, so just take nice pictures without the need to chase after likes and comments.
Those are my views and thoughts, I’d be interested to find out if you’ve been in a pod and how you found it…or do you have views on pods?