Let’s face it, we’ve all had times when we’ve popped a post up on Instagram, and…well…nothing. Or at least, not a lot. Sometimes, posting on social media feels a bit like shouting into the abyss. And almost without fail, it’s the post that you really worked hard on, and really want to do well, that is the one that bombs. But what if there was a failsafe way that you could guarantee engagement on your posts? Wouldn’t you snap our 24 fingers off? For many Instagramers, this is why they enter into the world of engagement pods.

But, before you nestle yourself in amongst your fellow peas in one of those aforementioned engagement pods, let us have a little word in your shell-like: do your research, and know what you’re getting into. Because we’re here to tell you that Instagram engagement pods, unfortunately, don’t always work.

What is an engagement pod?

Of course, you may be wondering what on earth an Instagram engagement pod even is. Well, the long and the short of it is several Instagrammers who form a group (or ‘pod’) in order to increase the engagement on each other’s posts.

The usual set up is that once a day, you all share the link to what you’d like boosted. This is either in a private message on Instagram itself or on another platform entirely, such as WhatsApp. Everyone in the pod then goes and leaves a bit of love on the post. This is done through adding comments, likes or shares to each other’s posts, usually within a short space of time in order to trick the algorithm into thinking your post is the most popular thing since sliced bread.

A great way of boosting engagement, yes? Well, yes and no. Yes, you can get lots of likes and comments very quickly, which is always an ego boost if nothing more.

But unfortunately the algorithm is cleverer than we think, and becoming cleverer by the day.

Don’t lower yourself to the level of the bots

So, as we were saying, the algorithm is cleverer than we think: in 2018, Instagram announced that it was committed to reducing inauthentic activity. This included cracking down on bots, fake accounts, spam and, yep, you’ve guessed it, artificial engagement.

And you may wonder how it can tell that you’re using an engagement pod. A like’s a like, right? Like, it is, but like, when it comes from the same set of users on every post, and the same sort of comments are applied to your posts time and time again, the algorithm can certainly don its super sleuth outfit and keep an eye on inauthentic activity. And if Instagram does suspect your account of using an engagement pod to boost your likes and comments, it could suppress the reach of your post. Or worse: you run the risk of being banned from the platform altogether *gulps*.

There’s a lot to be said for authenticity

Aside from the risk of being given the boot from Insta, there’s much to be said for being authentically you. We’re not about to get all motivational quote on you, but think about it: if you’re an influencer and it transpires you’re using an engagement pod to boost your likes and comments, you won’t appear to have that engaged following you sold your services on originally.

And for brands who are part of a pod, unless it’s very much in line with your niche, do you want to be commenting on other people’s posts as your brand? Besides, the usual ‘nice photo’ comment won’t cut the mustard; you need to make sure it’s meaningful if you want to trick the algorithm, which can be time consuming. Furthermore, likes very much do not equal sales when they come from engagement pods; these people are your peers, sometimes your competition, so they are less likely to buy from you than organic followers.

And on top of all of this, if you’re skewing your analytics with fake engagement, how are you going to work out how your posts are really doing, going forward?

Be less engagement pod, and more your own little pea

If you do decide not to go down the route of using an engagement pod, what can you do to boost your engagement naturally? Well, if you’ve been listening to anything that your Aunty 24 fingers has been telling you for the past however long, there are lots and lots of things you can do:

  • Put good quality content out there.
  • Build your network and find your own little tribe.
  • Engage naturally with other accounts as they are likely to take note and engage back.
  • Post consistently to both your feed and your stories.
  • Be yourself: no one else does *that* thing that you do so well, so sell that.

And if you need more ideas for increasing your Instagram engagement, we’ve got a course for that. If you want to know more, get in touch and let our very own 24 fingers drop some love on your posts in the form of good quality, engaging social media planning, training and management.