Everyone on Instagram seems to be frustrated with "the algorithm" these days. There are hundreds of theories out there and unless you've tested it, you can't be sure what is true, as Instagram has not specifically addressed anything. But no matter what Instagram expert you talk to, they will ALL tell you that engagement is key.
There are a number of ways to get engagement on your posts. A popular, successful strategy is to participate in Instagram pods.
What is a pod?
An Instagram pod is a group of Instagrammers who like and/or comment on each other's posts. This benefits each account that is in the pod because it provides engagement to your post from accounts with similar a audience.
why join a pod?
When an account likes your post, it's very possible that your post will show up on the explore page of people who frequently engage with the account that liked your post (you might need to read that sentence a few times...).
Basically, your reach grows each time an account engages with your post. Getting accounts to engage with you will only bring success. Plus, Instagram likes when a post gets a lot of engagement right away as it tells them that it is a quality post.
How do you join a pod?
There are a number of ways to join a pod. The most basic pod is an Instagram pod that exists within the Instagram direct messaging platform. This is usually 10-20 accounts with a similar target audience and similar size following. You can ask around on Facebook to see if anyone has a pod with available spots.
The best way to join a pod is really to start your own. This is because you can hand-pick accounts that are closest to yours and will ideally attract more users in your target audience. It's best to reach out to several accounts and tell them that you are starting a pod for x niche and would love to have them participate.
If someone reaches out to you and asks you to join their pod, check out their account and make sure that it relates to yours, otherwise you are not doing either one of you a favor. Pods are time consuming and you don't want to be engaging with accounts that are completely unrelated to yours.
If you have 1,000 followers, you should look for people to join your pod that have no more than 5,000 followers. As your account grows, you can look for larger accounts to engage with. Having an account with thousands of followers comment on your photos gives you the potential to show up on their follower's explore page, which can be huge for your growth. So larger accounts are not going to be enticed to join pods with smaller accounts because it won't benefit them as much. You want to give as much (if not more) than you receive!
I'm in a pod...now what?
A pod can be for likes or for comments or for both. This means that users will post their new photo in the group, then everyone in the pod will go like or comment. Of course, comments are better than likes, but comment pods take more time and energy. Do not overcommit to several comment pods.
A like pod can be larger as it's easier to go through each account and like their new post.
Each pod will have it's own rules. If you are creating a pod, it's important to set a few ground rules to keep the pod running smoothly.
Examples of pod rules:
- Must follow each member of the pod
- Only post one photo to the pod each day
- Comment at least 3 words on each post (nothing worse than a group member who only comments with an emoji or with a "love this!")
- Share link to photo OR post "NEW" when you've added a new photo (it's easier to add the link to the group because it makes it easier for everyone to get to the photo)
What is telegram?
Telegram is a messaging app. Instagrammers use Telegram to create huge pods. There are Telegram pods that range from 10 people to thousands of people. There will usually be an admin who monitors the pod because as you can imagine, it can get pretty crazy when there are a huge amount of members.
In most engagement pods, you have to like/comment on all of the posts before adding yours. There is also a popular type of pods that are referred to as "rounds".
Rounds are pods that have "drop" times throughout the day. For example, there will be "drops" at 9am, 3pm, and 9pm. This means that 30 minutes before the round time, members will start dropping their links. Once it hits the round time, no one can drop any more links. Then, everyone who shared a post has to engage with the rest of the posts, usually within the hour.
Rounds are a good way to go about getting engagement because this ensures that you get engagement immediately!
A benefit to Telegram is that it can be used on your phone or on your computer. It can be much quicker to go through all of the posts if you're doing it on their website vs. on your phone. But you'll figure out what works best for you!
Alright that was a lot of information. You will want to determine how dedicated you are to engagement pods. Start small and see if you can handle more to keep you from getting too overwhelmed.