For the past number of months I have been part of an Instagram Megapod which operates through Slack and aims to help users boost their engagement, profile and help users beat the Instagram algorithm we all hate so much.
Instagram Pods are something I have been interested in for some time now, not just to boost profiles but also to meet new like minded people on the platform who I may not have found otherwise. Some people may know of the Megapod which I am talking about, I have promoted it on social media several times in the past number of months.
There have been a number of blog posts over the past few months from people sharing their experiences in an Instagram Pod. Some have labelled them as high school all over again and others have said there were benefits. But ultimately most bloggers ended up leaving the pod they were writing about in the end.
Last week I left that pod for a number of reasons, ultimately I wasn’t happy with what I was getting back from the Pod given the number of users who were part of it and the experience had pros and cons to it. So lets have a look at Instagram Pods, what I found to be good and bad and would I recommend a Pod to someone looking to boost their account.
What are Instagram Pods?
So Instagram Pods started to rise in popularity after Instagram introduced an algorithm ranking what you see on your feed and search based on things such as likes and comments. It is hard to tell where the importance lies in the algorithm, nobody is really sure what carries more weight in ranking – likes or comments. We think it could be comments but we are not 100% certain to be honest.
Anyway, Pods were initially formed through DM groups on Instagram and that is where they still are formed for the most part. A Pod is a collection of users who share a similar interest and similar profile style. When you post a new photo or video, you share that with your Pod through DM and they like and leave an authentic comment on it. That way your post has a higher chance of being picked up by the Instagram algorithm and ranked as a top post.
The aim is to help each other grow, gain exposure and expand to new people by essentially working together against the algorithm in place and for the most part it does work pretty well.
I have had several posts hit the top ranked posts for various hashtags in the past number of months using a Pod.
How serious are they?
I can’t emphasise this enough, if you are thinking of joining a Pod you need to understand that it is seen as a commitment. You are expected to comment and like each post within a certain timeframe and to follow the rules of the group.
These Pods only work if a serious approach is taken to them. Otherwise you can find yourself being turfed out of a Pod pretty darn fast, they don’t hang around and if you won’t play by the rules they will find someone who will to take your place.
I don’t want to make it sound like a scary place, I have met great people through using Pods. As long as you are aware of what the expectations are then you should have no problem at all.
The benefits of a Pod
Like I mentioned at the start, I was in a Pod which was a bit different from the rest. It operated through Slack due to the limitations of Instagram DM groups and had an average of 350 “active” members split into timezone groups.
The benefits are pretty straight forward really, there is no big mystery here. Your likes will go up, your comments will go up and if you are in a group which mandates following accounts (which every pod will have) you will gain followers.
This Megapod mandated following for just the timezone groups so you didn’t have to follow 300+ accounts. I met a lot of Instagrammers through this pod with similar interests which was really neat and I still follow them after leaving the pod.
My likes increased, the comments came rolling in and some of my shots started landing in the top posts on certain hashtags. When that happens the chances of being exposed to regular Instagram users in the Pod also increases. It is easy to interact with posts, click on it, drop a like, drop a comment. Really it is straight forwards stuff, the pod works the way it is meant to work and as long as people participate as intended the results overall are beneficial.
The downside of a Pod
So what are some of the downsides to being in a Pod? Well for starters, as I have touched upon already – Pods are taken very seriously. These are Instagram users looking to grow their accounts and exposure efficiently, they are fun, they are nice people but you are expected to play your part.
You are expected to like and comment in a certain timeframe to maximise the effect on the algorithm. You can end up interacting with a lot of posts, that starts taking time from other things you may need to be doing instead.
The bigger the pod, the more interacting you end up doing. Also, a large part of getting Pods right is getting into a Pod which you actually enjoy. You need to be in a Pod which shares your interests, as a photographer it makes no sense for me to be in a marketing pod. For a marketer it would make no sense to be in a foodie Pod and so on.
Getting into a Pod you enjoy typically means joining and leaving a number of them until you find what you want.
Why I left the Megapod!
So why did I decide to leave the Megapod I was in? Surely the bigger the pod the more interaction you will get? Sure, I mean that makes sense alright but the reality is that I felt the group was too big for me. So there are a lot of posts you need to interact with, more comments to leave, more likes to drop. That takes time in a big group.
Also, I just wasn’t seeing the return that I felt may be worth being in the Pod for. For a Pod of around 350 people, I was typically getting returns of around 80-100 likes which isn’t a bad return and you are never going to get all 350 interacting with your one post but I would have liked to see more activity for the time you put in liking and commenting yourself.
Plus there were some rules introduced after I joined which I just wasn’t a fan of, you could only share one post to the Pod every 24 hours. Typically, serious grammers will post 2-3 posts per day so it means those posts were missing out and I just felt limited in that I had to pick one post to share to the Pod. Then there was a rule to like and comment on posts 8 hours before and 8 hours after your post, thats a big time frame to keep track of through the day.
There was definitely a benefit to being a part of the community but really I think I favour a smaller Pod which interacts more closely with each other and that is what I am searching for at the moment.
Pods are worth it, if you find the right one
So Pods are definitely worth it, there is a benefit and if you feel like you can commit to being a part of a Pod it is well worth it, if you can find the right one for you.
Don’t get disheartened if you have to join and leave a few Pods at the start, it can take some time to find the right fit for you. You can find Pods to join through a Google search or keep an eye on the Instagram subreddit.