Is this you?
You spend hours putting together a brilliant Instagram post.
It has all the winning elements that make up great social media posts: uniqueness, relevancy, tact, and flair.
After you’ve completed it, you wait for the perfect time and then post it.
You sit back and wait for the likes and comments to flood in.
A minute passes.
A whole hour.
Well, here’s the thing.
Your followers aren’t skipping over it and ignoring it.
It’s not that they don’t like your post.
It’s just that they haven’t seen it.
This is how Instagram’s algorithm works. (Facebook’s too.)
Instead of showing posts chronologically, it shows posts with high engagement first.
Sounds scary, I know.
And this is the reason social media pods were born.
But what are social media pods, really?
Should you join one?
In this article you’ll learn:
- What social media pods are.
- The pros and cons of joining a pod.
- What you should do instead if you don’t want to join a pod.
What Is a Social Media Pod?
Let me guess.
When you post something new on social media, you go back in an hour or two to check who liked or commented on it.
No one is “cool” enough not to care who liked or commented on their stuff. 😉
So, let’s say a friend called Mary likes every single thing you post.
You subconsciously remember this, and when Mary posts something of her own?
You return the favor.
You give her post a “heart react” and write a comment she’ll love…
This is exactly how social media pods work.
Pods are groups of people who work together to ramp up engagements on each other’s posts.
Of course, working in a pod isn’t subconscious and random – the way you and Mary interact with each other.
To join a pod, you need to agree that you’ll engage with other members’ posts in exchange for engagement on your posts.
As you can guess, the goal of these pods is to increase engagement on members’ posts for wider visibility to users.
Sounds amazing, right?
Still, there’s something nagging at the back of your mind.
Is this really the way to succeed in your social media campaign?
Should you (or should you not) join a social media pod?
Let’s look at the pros and cons of joining one.
The Pros of Social Media Pods: 3 Reasons You Might Want to Give Them a Try
Social media pods could work for your campaign if you do things the right way.
Your Posts Will Receive Higher Engagement
Struggling with posts that seem invisible to your followers?
Sometimes, the only way to reach them is to increase your posts’ engagement.
With the help of pod members, your posts will get hundreds or even thousands of new likes, signaling to Instagram or Facebook that it’s worth your followers’ attention.
You Can Get in Front of a Larger Crowd
Getting into a pod exposes you to different people.
And who knows?
One or two of them might turn out to be someone who needs what your brand is offering.
You’ll Grow Your Network
The key to joining pods is to select one with fewer than 100 members.
Also, make sure members in the pods aren’t just random people from diverse niches promoting their accounts.
You want to get in a pod with people who are doing the same thing you are.
For instance, if you sell art, you’ll want to get into a pod of serious artists like yourself.
Besides promoting each other’s posts, you’ll have a strong network of like-minded people to rely on.
The Cons of Social Media Pods: 4 Reasons They’re a Complete Waste of Time
I know, I know.
There’s still that nagging voice at the back of your head.
“If social media pods are the key to success, why aren’t there a ton of pod success stories out there?”
Joining a Pod Doesn’t Guarantee You Higher Exposure
Sure, joining a social media pod gets you more likes and comments.
But here’s the thing.
It still doesn’t guarantee your target audience will see your posts.
Because engagement isn’t the only factor social media platforms look for when deciding who sees your posts.
There are also relationships.
For instance, Instagram notices that you and Mary always like and comment on each other’s posts.
So, the next time Mary posts…
…you’ll be the first to see it.
And vice versa.
This means, if your audience never liked or commented on anything you posted, chances are they won’t see your next post no matter how many likes and comments from people in your pod it has.
For example, take a look at the admiring comments on this beautiful post by The Book Boy.
The next time he posts, these people (and the 1,338 others who liked it) will be the first to see it.
Being a Pod Member Is Extremely Time-Consuming
Think being a pod member is easy?
Sure, you’ll get likes and comments on your posts.
But you have to return the favor.
So, if you join a pod with thousands of members and each one of them is posting multiple times a day?
You’ll never be able to do anything besides liking and commenting on posts you probably aren’t even interested in.
Failing to keep up with your engagements means you’ll be warned, and possibly even kicked out of the pod.
Joining a Pod Can Get You Flagged
It’s creepy how human-like social media platforms are.
(The bots are really out to take over the world.)
But it’s true.
Instagram and Facebook know how many likes and comments you normally get.
So, when 300 likes turn into 3,000 likes in one week, they’ll notice.
You’ll possibly be flagged for violating the platform’s community guidelines.
Joining a Pod Can Be Against Instagram’s Rules
Technically, pods aren’t against Instagram rules.
If you join a pod to meet new people and find other users to do collabs with, then great!
But pods with thousands of members who are out to gain artificial likes, comments, and followers…
…those are clearly against the rules.
If you’re thinking of joining a pod, ask yourself these two questions first:
- What is the goal of this pod?
- How many members does this pod have? (As a rule of thumb, go for pods with less than a hundred members.)
Social Media Pod Alternatives: 5 Tricks that Work Better Than Pods
You’ve now decided whether or not joining a social media pod is right for your brand.
But are there better alternatives to pods?
Here are five that’ll get you further than any pod ever will.
1. Care About Your Audience
Sounds cliché, but this is exactly what social media was created for in the first place:
To build connections between people.
So honestly, forget the algorithms and metrics for a moment.
Dig deep into who your audience is.
What do they love?
What do they believe in?
What would stir their deepest thoughts and feelings?
For instance, if they’re health buffs, they’ll love a delicious keto recipe like this one.
2. Make Your Audience Want to Engage with You
What stops you from zipping mindlessly through your Instagram feed to take a moment or two to like or comment on a post?
Let me guess.
- Something you relate to.
- Something that inspires you.
- Something that encourages you to express your own unique opinion.
Like this post from Apartment Therapy.
The caption for this post is: “Why does this color combo make us feel so joyful?”
Don’t you just want to jump in with your own reason why?
3. Keep Up with the Times
Another thing social media platforms do is prioritize on trending themes.
For example, we all remember the #10yearchallenge and all those baby Yoda memes.
To increase your post’s chances of reaching a wider audience, you can integrate a popular trend into it.
Like what McDonald’s did when it joined the Dolly Parton Challenge.
4. Don’t Skip the Hashtags
Hashtags allow users to find you using Instagram’s Search and Explore tabs.
Remember, use hashtags your audience cares about.
Also, don’t skip the most popular hashtags on Instagram.
Note: This works better on Instagram than on Facebook.
5. Tag People You Admire
I don’t mean spam them.
I mean that if you’ve had a meaningful interaction with influencers, show your gratitude by tagging them in a post.
Or show your admiration for them by creating a post your audience (and theirs) will appreciate.
This will give you the chance to put your brand in front of their followers.
Who knows – they might be interested enough in you to give you a follow, like, share, and comment.
Social Media Pods – To Join or Not to Join?
Social media is about connections first and selling second.
It’s harder than ever to put your brand in front of your potential customers.
So, if you’re struggling with low engagements, you might be thinking of going ahead and jumping on the Instagram pod trend.
But should you do it?
The answer is: it depends on you.
If you decide to join a small pod where you can make meaningful connections with like-minded people, go ahead.
If you’re joining a giant, 1,000+ member pod full of diverse people who won’t even care about what you post before they like and comment?
Plus, there are other ways to gain engagement on social media.
Sit down for a few moments first to determine your goals.
Once you know what you want, the path towards higher social media engagement will be clear to you.
- Instagram Analytics Guide: 10 of the Best Tools to Get Insights
- 9 Expert Tips to Earn Traffic from Instagram
- How to Dominate Social Media Marketing: A Complete Strategy Guide
All screenshots taken by the author, October 2020