From fake accounts, followers and influencers, to fake engagement and reach, people have always tried to trick the smart Instagram algorithm and get better results quickly.
Unlike the case with fake followers, where you’d have to spend some money to get the following, likes, or comments, the Instagram engagement groups come free of charge.
Or so everyone thinks.
Because, as it turns out – there is no such thing as a free lunch, as John Ruskin famously said.
There’s a price tag attached to everything. It’s just a matter of when you get the check.
Let’s break it down.
What is an Instagram Engagement Pod?
First things first, let’s define the phenomenon before we move any further.
Instagram engagement pods are essentially a group of Instagram users gathered to boost each other’s engagement on Instagram. Depending on the type of group or the specific requirements, they can use likes, comments, or follows to achieve this.
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As the pods started gaining popularity, more and more different variations of Instagram pods began showing up. Now you have a pod for every specific need, from general to super-specific targets, you name it.
Usually, the pods can count from 50 or fewer members to over 1,000 depending on the type.
When it comes to the rules of Instagram pods, they vary from pod to pod. From the really specific ones, including the number of followers you must have before joining, and the duration, to the more casual ones following the general rules.
In general, most engagement pods follow these common rules:
- The give and take method – Instagram pod users hate leeches and strongly advise that you reciprocate the actions as planned. Meaning, if you’re in a group that provides likes, you should make sure to like all the other users’ posts in return.
- No small talk – The chat is strictly reserved for orders, or “drops.”
- Act fast – All group users respect the duration of the pod “drop” – the predefined time in which all actions (likes, comments, follows) must be taken.
How Instagram pods work
This is how typical Instagram engagement groups operate.
First, prepare to be extremely patient because finding a solid engagement group is not an easy task.
And, since it’s a secret business, it operates in the Internet underground.
The communication is done via an app called Telegram, to keep the privacy of each member.
So, don’t expect to find a “member of the Instagram groups” line in their Instagram bios exactly.
This rule alone should make you rethink the whole thing.
Except that it’s not, but more on that later.
The groups vary in size and the amount of engagement. But they all have the major mission in common – to create greater engagement through “quality” follows, likes, and comments.
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These are some of the most commonly found rules in an Instagram engagement pod:
- Longer comments – to prevent looking spammy or fake
- Members must like and/or comment on a certain amount of posts by other members in a timely manner. (Typically, you’ve got about an hour to do this once the notification arrives)
- You have to follow the admins of the group.
- You communicate in codes – Once you’ve performed the task, you have to leave a Telegram comment containing the following code: DX10, depending on the number of posts the group requires you to engage with.
- You have to remove the link preview. If not, you might get kicked out.
- You get kicked out if you skip other member’s posts.
You get the drill. Basically, a super-secretive society operating under strict rules and codes of conduct that promises a lot. Hmmm, rings any bells?
Why would you use Instagram Engagement Pods?
Well, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Instagram engagement groups seemed like a promised heaven, a place where you can make all your Instagram dreams come true. They were generated as a reply to Instagram’s decision to change the feed from chronological to the algorithm in early 2016.
This meant that you don’t get the posts in your feed in the order they are created, but the algorithm pushes the ones it thinks you’d be most likely to want, based on your Instagram behavior and preferences.
Understandably this rubbed some people and some brands on Instagram the wrong way, as it decreased the engagement and reached for millions of Instagram accounts. Because there are 1 billion active users (and counting…), this means considerable losses in some cases.
Of course, many jumped on the bandwagon as soon as the word on engagement pods got out. And they are not to blame. The story sounds tempting.
Until you realize that it’s just too good to be true.
Sure, the great promise lures many people in, thinking they could trick the system and get a massive engagement quickly.
However, behind that shiny promise lies one, big, nothing.
What are the Issues with Instagram Pods?
Although, in theory, they should work, Instagram engagement pods cause more trouble than good.
Many individuals, famous influencers, and brands on Instagram have tried to use this quick fix, and to no avail.
Aside from looking so fake and being unsustainable, the results bring no actual value to your engagement.
Continue reading to get a better understanding of all the issues with Instagram engagement groups.
But, hey, you may think, who cares if you’re doing something slightly off the record, if you can get incredible results quickly, right?
Sure, yet the problem is that you may get involved, spend all of that time and effort, and still get little to nothing in return.
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This depends on the group you’re in. You might be lucky and be in a cool group with a bunch of people who are there to scratch your back if you scratch theirs. However, it’s often the case that you see little results, as the people skip your posts and won’t return the favor.
And like any deadly sin, this can leave you feeling you risked too much and got nothing in return.
Instagram is On to You
But what’s a deadly sin without the excitement of knowing you can get caught any moment.
Even though they are doing everything in their power to stay on the down-low, it turns out, a simple Google search can get you a ton of info about pretty much anything you want to know about these pods.
And, let’s not forget that the Instagram algorithm is one mighty machine that is continually improving to serve its purpose and encourage organic engagement, not the forced, fake one.
Let’s say you have around a hundred followers, and you see an average engagement of around 50 likes and a dozen comments per post. So, you take up an Instagram pod round to get the numbers up.
The best-case scenario – your engagement increases substantially.
But this can get you in a lot of trouble very quickly. The Instagram algorithm will notice strange behavior.
Because every unusual spike rings the alarm.
So, it’s only a matter of time before it figures out that the entire improvement is completely staged.
The inevitable question here is – Is it all worth the risk?
Looks Fake and Suspicious
Sure, it may take some time before the algorithm catches up, but the real people will see through your little scam.
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No matter how strict the rules on commenting may be on the group you’re working with, the generic comments are inevitable. Think of it in this way – if your task within a group is to make about 20 comments a day (which is rarely the case, the numbers are much higher) and the only rule is to do it in more than 4 words, you’ll lose the inspiration pretty quickly.
The same goes for other members. Not to mention the fact that you probably won’t even be interested in their content, and vice versa, since it’s rarely the case, you’d get an ideal, niche group.
Even if you do, and all the comments seem legit, there’s still the curious case of sudden increase and drop in numbers. Eventually, you’ll stop using the help of a group, and the numbers will show that it’s been some suspicious business going on.
How’s that for your reputation?
Your Reputation Suffers
Another way your reputation will be at risk is through your interaction with other members’ posts.
It’s rare to get a perfect group that offers related content that you would organically want to engage with. In most cases, you’d have to interact with all types of content that don’t necessarily relate to your brand or values.
So the scenario could go something like this. Let’s say you’re a clothing brand focused on responsible manufacturing and organic, cruelty-free materials. It would be devastating to your reputation and your values and principles to like and comment on a post featuring products made of real fur, for example.
It’s a hefty price to pay, if you think about it.
Hopefully, by now, you’re able to paint a clearer picture of the downsides of engaging in an Instagram engagement group. And you can forecast some other detrimental effects this endeavor could have on your Instagram game.
Think of the main reason you decided to create an Instagram account in the first place. It’s most likely to get your ideas, content, products, and/or services in front of the right audience and, thus, improve your sales.
How does an Instagram engagement group get you closer to this goal?
It’s safe to say – it doesn’t do anything at all.
Sure, the forced engagement would do the trick. You’ll get the numbers up, at least for a little while.
Yet, as the majority of this engagement comes from the group that may or may not be in your ideal buyer persona range, chances are you are not getting the bang for your buck.
Your content is not seen by your ideal audience – your buyer persona.
Have we mentioned the time it would take to find the group first, get in, get approved, do all the drops and tasks?
Ultimately it’s up to you to decide if the few benefits and so many downsides are worth the time and effort put into it.
Our advice is clear – don’t play with the devil.
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It’s better to resist the temptation and play the organic, more rewarding game.
Still not convinced that the organic approach is a much safer and successful bet? Let’s break down the facts.
The engagement pod results happen instantaneously but disappear the same way too. The results achieved with a dedicated growth solution like FlockSocial take even shorter but last for a lifetime.
A customizable organic solution like FlockSocial gets you a niche, genuine engagement. In contrast, with engagement pods, it’s a mixed bag of things, people, and services you don’t necessarily want to be connected with.
Of course, you won’t have to do all the work yourself. While you take care of the strategy and the more important stuff, we’ll be in the background paving the way to your niche list of followers, improving your reach and engagement chances, and much more.
Even though tempting and promising, Instagram engagement groups inevitably cause more harm than good, and as such, are a complete waste of time and resources.
Think if you spent all of that time working on a legit strategy to get Instagram followers and improve your reach and engagement organically. Without taking shortcuts, your results may arrive a little slower, but you’ll achieve a more substantial, exponential growth, without any risk or a downside.
Here’s the list of other related material to help you navigate the waters of the Instagram playing field: