If you've got your ear on the beat for social media marketing news, you know that over the past couple months Instagram pods have exploded. They're hot new thing that everyone wants to talk about, but is a little nervous to openly discuss (just adding to their mystique). Let me break down what the heck pods are, why everyone is so hush-hush about them, and why you may or may not want to join or start one.
So, what are they?
Instagram pods are groups of people who basically have each other's backs on Instagram. They generally include anywhere between 5 and 20 people, who hang out in an a group IG message together. Usually, they’ve got the same target audience. So you wouldn’t want to pair a vintage car account with a mommy blogger.
Every time someone in the group post on their feed, they share it to the group message. Immediately, everyone in the pod gets the notification and heads to the post to start engaging (giving it a like and comment).
In short, they do it to beat the algorithm. When there's a lot of engagement right away on your post, Instagram gets the message that people really value the content, making them more likely to put it in the feed for other people to see. When you immediately after posting get 10 real likes and non-spam comments, it can be a very good thing for your page.
Sounds great, right?
What's the problem?
Pods are like Fight Club – the first rule of pods is that you can't talk about pods.
Since it's a rather sneaky way of going around the system and skirting the algorithm, Instagram does not love pods. They've been known to shut down accounts or shadow ban users who use them.
What the heck does Shadow ban mean?
Shadow ban might sound like a cool 80s horror movie, but it’s a dramatic name for something that’s really not that scary. Don't get me wrong, you definitely do not want to get shadow banned, but it's not like you're going to be sent to Instagram prison.
What will happen, however, is that they will greatly decrease your ranking in the algorithm, making it near impossible for your content to get the feed. Which, well, sucks.
Note: you can also get shadow banned for using the same hashtags repeatedly, so I recommend keeping it fresh but rotating your set of hashtags at least every other day.
* Increased visibility in top posts
* Guaranteed increase in engagement
* Meet people in your niche
* Risking shadowban
* Big time investment
* Notifications can be overwhelming
The downside of a pod is that your phone will constantly be erupting with notifications. If you get easily overwhelmed by social media and notifications on your phone, I do not recommend this for you.
In my experience, nothing beats a really smart and straight-forward content strategy. Call me old-fashioned, but to me, it's not worth risking the ban.
Pods are the outlaw gangs of Instagram. They're not necessarily legal, but they've got each other's backs.
Choose wisely, dear friend.
Have you joined a pod? Do you enjoy it? What are your thoughts?