Instagram pods have been on the rise ever since Instagram switched users’ feeds from chronological to an algorithm-based order. However, there’s one big reason why you should consider not joining a pod, and here’s why.
I’m guilty of joining Instagram pods and basking in the increased engagement they bring. As a wedding photographer, I feel my genre is particularly guilty of partaking in the Instagram pod fad. If you’re not familiar with an Instagram Pod, it’s a group of people who join a group Direct Message on Instagram, WhatsApp, or Telegram with the goal being to engage with one another’s Instagram posts. The idea is that a concentrated effort of engagement will potentially create more widespread organic engagement.
The Instagram Pod Dilemma
The problem comes from the fact that although an Instagram pod may initially increase engagement on a user’s posts, the fact that artificial engagement is occurring obscures any evidence that a user is gaining better organic engagement, thereby hindering any attempt to analyze the health of your organic engagement. If your goal for being on Instagram is only to get as many likes, comments, and followers as possible, then this isn’t really a problem for you. However, if your motivation for being on Instagram is more profound than that (and it really should be), then being in an Instagram pod may not be as beneficial as you thought.
If your goal is to attract a targeted audience of followers (e.g., as a wedding photographer, I want to attract potential brides in my local market), then having an Instagram pod won’t help you, unless that particular Instagram pod is made up of your targeted audience. More likely than not, though, Instagram pods are made up of others within your same market and niche, probably even some of your competitors.
So, then, does being a part of an Instagram pod help grow your engagement? It’s too hard to say. On one hand, artificial engagement may look impressive to a prospective client, but on the other hand, real organic engagement from a targeted audience is ultimately what makes a sale for professional photographers in the long run.
As of right now, to the general public’s knowledge, Instagram hasn’t begun cracking down on the Instagram pod craze, but it’s almost entirely certain that the algorithm will start finding and penalizing pods and the users enjoying them.
Next time you log into Instagram, consider why you’re on the platform in the first place and try creating content that furthers your original purpose for joining. There are no easy answers for growing your following on Instagram, but shortcuts may ultimately hurt you in the long run.