There’s a new clique in town. Buzz has surrounded Instagram pods for the last few weeks, fueled in part by a recent Mashable article about how hard it is to join one. Digiday breaks down what a pod is and what it means for brands.
In 2016, Instagram scrapped its chronological news feed for an algorithmic timeline. Naturally, many users bemoaned the change, complaining that it’d make it even harder for posts to reach audiences.
Now, it appears Instagram communities are attempting to fight the algorithm by forming Instagram pods.
But what exactly are these pods – and what do they mean for brands and influencers alike? Here’s a break-down of the situation so far.
Odds are in some ways a throwback to the beginnings of the influencer industry, when bloggers would form a supportive group to grow each other’s communities, said Cait Weingartner, a blogger who runs the Pretty & Fun blog and director of collaborations at Collectively. But now, there is a “shadiness” to it. Pods will often focus on sponsored posts that brands paid for and ask pod members to make sure to leave comments about the brand. For instance, for an outfit post, pod members’ approach could be to comment about how much they love the watch in the post because the watch brand sponsored the ad.
Some Instagrammers have lower engagement on their posts and think this is a result of the change, so they are taking actions that they believe will help them fight against the gravity of the algorithm that is pulling their posts down.
One popular option to buck the algorithm is to join an “Instagram pod.
Being Part Of A Pod
Urszula Makowska shares her experience as part of an Instagram Pod, Interesting to see the other perspective.
An Insta pod is a secret group of bloggers who join forces in group messages in order to like and comment on each others posts and gain more engagement on Instagram. It’s been compared to “a family of dolphins who live together in harmony and support one another…like a group of cheerleaders who help one another on Instagram”.
Rachel Thompson shares her experience trying to join one. She describes it as being an “excellent idea in theory, but, put into practice, it feels like a brutal popularity contest straight out of Mean Girls.”
Ever since Instagram removed chronological posts, users have been scrambling to find a way to “hack the algorithm.” Some turn to bots while others swear by hashtags, but the pro Instagrammers? They’re joining forces to fight the algorithm together, with their own hidden hack: Instagram pods.
It feels like the whole idea of pods misses the point of Instagram. An exclusive club that helps you do battle with the big bad algorithm sure seems virtuous at first—one photographer said it’s like “a family of dolphins who […] support one another”— but it only furthers the idea that photography in general, and Instagram specifically, is all about likes, comments, and “reach.”
In June 2016, Instagram began rolling out its new algorithmic timeline which changed the order of posts in people’s feeds, favouring popular posts over chronology. Instagram bloggers have been complaining that it’s becoming harder to gain followers organically. Faced with this new challenge, they’re fighting back. In pod-form.
Instagram has already shown their opinion on gaming the system. They will not hesitate to ban you if they think you are doing anything inauthentic. That’s why they have limits on the number of people you can follow and the number of photos you can like in a certain time frame. They are taking small steps to stop people who are joining hundreds of Instagram pods.
It is only a matter of time before they improve their tech to start looking for more indications that people are using Instagram pods