Instagram Pods: Do They Still Work?

Have you ever heard about Instagram pods before? If you’re not familiar, it may remind you of peas, or perhaps earbuds, or even dolphins. The term Instagram pods, though, refers to none of those things, although it does keep the meaning of group going strong. 

Instagram pods are a bit controversial because some claim that they’re the best strategy for boosting Instagram engagement, and some claim that they don’t work at all. 

If you’re curious about the concept of Instagram pods and are looking for ways to boost your Instagram engagement, read on! In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about Instagram pods and how to get more engagement on the platform with or without them. 

What are Instagram Pods? 

Instagram pods were created in order to create small communities of users that work to increase each member’s engagement. In essence, a group direct message is created and all of the people involved in the group message receive more engagement. 

Being part of Instagram pods goes something like this: 

  • You join a direct message with a number of participants (can be anywhere from a dozen or two, up to a few hundred of other people in your industry), which is known as the “pod.”
  • When you upload a post to Instagram, you share the post to the group message on Instagram. 
  • Everyone in the group has the responsibility to like your post and/or leave a comment.
  • When other members post, you must do the same for them. 

This process continues over and over, helping to generate more engagement for all of the pod members. 

The idea behind Instagram engagement groups is to put up a fight against the Instagram algorithm, getting your content more engagement to increase its ranking, “boosting” your post to the top and helping it to get more reach in Instagram feeds. 

When you’re a part of an Instagram pod, you may find your post featured on the Explore page due to the heightened amounts of engagement your posts consistently receive. 

There are a few different types of Instagram pods, and we’re going to outline those briefly here: 

  • Instagram Pods in DM: This is the most basic and common type of Instagram pod and it’s managed directly through Instagram. You share posts and communicate with group members in shared DMs. 
  • Telegram Instagram Pods: Telegram Instagram pods are managed through the third-party app Telegram, and they work basically the same way as the Instagram group DM pods. 
  • Post Notifications Instagram Pod: Some Instagram pods just ask you to turn on the post notifications for other influencers or members in the group and that you interact with the new posts as soon as you’re alerted. 

Instagram pods have their own set of rules, and if you want to continue as part of the group, you must follow them to the letter. Otherwise, you will be removed and won’t be able to participate any longer. 

Where to Find Instagram Pods? 

You can find Instagram pods that could work for you by doing some searching online. There are a couple good places to begin your search, and we’ll outline them here. 

Facebook Groups: You can do searches on Facebook in order to find Instagram pods. For instance, one of the most popular groups is called Instagram marketing Mastermind PODS, with 11.5k members and it is a private group. It was created in 2017 and if you want to join, you can follow the instructions on the group page. 

Instagram pods Facebook groups

Telegram app: Telegram is also another popular place to find Instagram pods. The messaging app is based around automation so that you can get the engagement you need on Instagram.

The bot shares a list of Instagram usernames to the group, and you will then visit each page and interact with the most recent post (usually within 45 minutes of when the usernames were shared). You can join Telegram by creating your account and then search for an Instagram pod in your industry. 

Instagram pods Telegram

Reddit: Reddit has pretty much anything you need on the internet these days, and Instagram pods are no exception. You can find pods that could fit your needs on the platform. If you visit the subreddit r/IGPods you’ll be able to connect with those looking for a pod and then can either join one that exists, or create your own.

It’s easy using this subreddit to find pods that are already relevant to your niche. Some popular Instagram pods are in the following niches: digital marketing, fitness, recipes, skincare and beauty, lifestyle, politics, and more. Regardless of your industry, it’s likely you can find the right Instagram pods on Reddit. 

Instagram pods reddit

Instagram influencers: while this method isn’t as easy as finding Instagram pods through the other platforms, it’s possible to identify IG pods right from the platform. If you notice that users are frequently liking and commenting on each other’s posts, they may be part of a pod.

You can DM one of these users and ask if they are a part of an IG pod and if they’re accepting new members. It’s a good idea to already follow the user and engage with their posts so they can see that you’re serious. You may also be able to reach out to any Instagram influencers or accounts that are similar to your niche and inquire about any pods that they’re a part of or at least aware of. 

To end this section, we’ll leave you a list of some common places you can find Instagram pods and you can check them out to see if any of them fit your needs. 

Engagement Groups From Facebook:

Engagement Groups From Telegram

Engagement Groups From WhatsApp

We didn’t mention this option above, but sometimes you can join Instagram pods through WhatsApp, another popular messaging platform. Check out the below links and see if any could be a good fit. 

Do Instagram Pods Work? 

Instagram engagement groups do offer benefits to the users that are actively a part of one. The main benefit is clear from the name— more engagement on Instagram. Even if you’re going through an engagement slump and users aren’t interacting with your content, you know that the people in the pod will. 

The more engagement that you have, the more likely your followers will begin to interact based on the concept of social proof. Some Instagram pods have hundreds of members, which means you’ll be getting a pretty substantial amount of engagement that you would otherwise miss out on. 

  1. In addition, Instagram pods are great when you want to boost your performance against the Instagram algorithm and get more reach for your content. When you consistently have a lot of Instagram likes and comments, your content becomes more competitive, increasing the chances it will land on the Explore page. 

This is one of the main reasons why pods were created in the first place. In the past, Instagram showed new posts to users in chronological order. After the algorithm was changed to display content that was more desired by users based on ranking factors, brands and businesses began to realize they needed more engagement for optimal exposure. 

Instagram considers factors like past engagement, user behavior, relationship, and more to determine who sees what pieces of content and when. When you have more engagement, your content will be more visible to users who are likely to enjoy it, which gives your content more overall value and increases reach over time. 

Finally, pods are great for networking. Many pods are organized by industry or niche, so joining a pod can put you in connection with others who are a part of your industry or field. When you interact with each other, you have the potential to build a relationship, leading to collaborations and more. 

It’s always a good idea to build relationships with people in your industry— you never know what mutual benefits will surface down the line. They’re called social networks for a reason, after all! 

Are There Risks Involved? 

While Instagram pods seem exclusively beneficial, there are a few downsides when using the strategy for engagement. While you’ll be getting more engagement, it’s not the most valuable type of engagement you could receive. 

The likes and comments you’ll get from your fellow pod members are great for boosting reach and increasing numbers, but it’s technically not 100% natural and authentic. This can affect your engagement rate and may diminish your reputation if users find out you’re working with a pod. 

For example, if the number of likes and comments you get is a lot higher than what would make sense for your follower count, people can figure out that your engagement isn’t authentic, but fortified. Instagram could also notice, and these types of groups are basically against Instagram’s terms of service. 

Why? 

Instagram has policies in place to curb inauthentic engagement on the platform, and in the past, Facebook has suspended Instagram engagement groups. It doesn’t pose an imminent risk, as there are many engagement pods still active, but it’s something to keep in mind. 

What’s more, you may build in some inconsistencies in your engagement rate. When you first join an Instagram pod, your engagement rate will go up, which seems awesome in the beginning. 

Later, you’ll realize that the people in your pod aren’t customers of your brand or business, nor are they potential leads, so they’re not really a part of your target audience. They’re not going to recommend your product to others, they won’t buy from you, and they aren’t going to help you in other areas of your business growth. 

The increase in numbers is good, but it can then be difficult to determine what type of content is truly performing well with your target audience and what content they really want to see. It can be tough when reviewing your Instagram insights to understand what your engagement truly means. 

Lastly, joining an Instagram pod isn’t free— it’s a time commitment. While you don’t pay anything, you’ll have to spend time liking and commenting on the posts from all of the users in the group. This has to be done within a time frame, otherwise you’ll be booted. 

Instagram pods don’t mess around when it comes to the rules, so you’ll need to deliver what is requested of you if you want to continue as part of the group. 

Are Instagram Pods Getting More Popular? 

At the end of the day, Instagram pods have been around starting in 2016, and they became very popular when the Instagram algorithm changed. Since then, they’ve continued to grow, used by many people looking to grow their business or become influencers. 

A study by NYU was done and noticed that the numbers have continually climbed— posts associated with pods in March of 2017 hit 7k, then jumping to 55k posts just one year later in March 2018. In March of 2019, yet another jump of almost double, with suspected “pod” posts hitting 100k. 

The current numbers are unclear, but they’re still out there and used by many. Even though they’re popular, are they effective? They may work for some Instagram users, and depending on what other strategies you have in place, it could be worth a try. 

Ultimately, you’ll need to weigh the risks and the benefits and see if using Instagram pods is something that you feel good about doing. At the very least, it may be a temporary solution to generate some interest in your account and boost your numbers.

Other Ways to Get More Engagement on Instagram 

If you’re not interested in using Instagram pods but are looking for other strategies to boost your Instagram engagement rate, there are plenty of things you can do every day to make sure that your content is well-received. 

While engagement pods are completely optional, using the Instagram content best practices shouldn’t be— if you want to stand out on the platform, you have to ensure that your content creation is above and beyond. 

Implementing the 5 proven tactics below can help you to enhance your content strategy and get more people liking and commenting on your posts. Let’s see what they’re all about.

Use Hashtags 

Hashtags are one of the best tools to help you get your content out to more users and boost your Instagram engagement. They’re good for not only increasing likes and comments, but also for attracting people to your content and gaining you more Instagram followers

You can use up to 30 hashtags on any Instagram post, and you can include them in your caption, at the end of your caption, or even in the first comment. Many experts claim that the optimal number of hashtags is anywhere between 4-11, but you can do some testing and see what works for you. 

Instagram pods hashtags imirage

Here, you can see that imirage magazine uses a handful of hashtags at the end of their post so that their post will appear in a number of feeds. They use a combination of general hashtags like #beauty and #mua, getting more specific with #highendbeauty and #editorialmakeup, even using #avantgardebeauty. 

Its really important to use hashtags that are targeted to your specific audience; general hashtags, like #beauty, are very broad and may not reach the right users. Content can be posted by any type of account and then end up in that hashtag feed, so it’s a very vast user base checking that tag out. Tags that are more specific, like the latter ones, are better options.

Post Videos and Carousel Posts 

Instagram offers a wide range of content formats, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s so popular. When Instagram first started, there were only static photos available for posting. Now, you have tons of options, including: 

  • Instagram single photo posts
  • Instagram video posts
  • Instagram carousel (multi-image/video) posts
  • Instagram live 
  • Instagram stories
  • Instagram reels
  • IGTV 
  • Instagram shoppable posts 

Instagram is consistently evolving to provide a more exciting user experience as well as offer tools for businesses and brands that monetize the platform, so you shouldn’t limit yourself to just a single type of content. 

It’s really important that you post videos and carousel posts on Instagram because both of those types of content get more engagement than others. Another incredibly popular format is reels; since reels was recently released to combat the popularity of TikTok, Instagram is still pushing the feature and many users find it very fun. 

In fact, many high-level sports teams in the NFL and NBA have seen huge increases in engagement on reels vs regular posts, and other brands like Nike and Louis Vuitton have seen the same, among others. 

Test out different content formats and see which ones get you the best results. Here, you can see that REI offers a range of content formats, from reels to carousel posts to regular in-feed photos.

Instagram pods content variety REI

Cross-Promote 

The typical internet user has an average of 8+ social media accounts, which means that your audience isn’t just on Instagram. There are many different social media platforms that offer you the potential to increase your online presence and reach more users, and you should harness that power to bring people over to Instagram. 

When you create content for multiple platforms, it’s a good idea to mention your other networks and direct users to visit you and follow you there. 

Let’s say you have a YouTube channel, and you have quite a bit of users who subscribe to you. You also have an Instagram account but have had trouble getting your follower count and engagement rate up. You’ve never mentioned your Instagram account on YouTube. 

You have to take the opportunity to tell your followers and viewers about your other social channels, otherwise they’re not likely to check you out! Mention it in the comments, just like you see Liane V doing on her channel below. You can also state it right in the video, or even post it in your bio and in other areas. 

Instagram pods cross-promotion Liane V

Do this for all of your social media channels and offer content that is exclusive to Instagram so that people have a reason to go over and check you out!

Use Instagram Stories 

Instagram stories is one of the most popular content formats on the platform; 500 million users access Instagram stories daily, which is half of Instagram’s total global user base! If you’re not using the platform, you’re missing out on some big opportunities. 

The first thing you should be doing with Instagram stories is posting content that is interactive for your users. The introduction of Instagram story stickers for polls, quizzes, ratings, and questions gives you a valuable chance to talk to your followers and get them interacting with your content. 

You can also use the input to do market research and see what content resonates with them, what they don’t like, and what they want more of— this will boost your engagement overall because people will have helped you create an effective content offering. 

In addition, you can use Instagram stories to direct people over to your IG feed and check out new posts. Have a look at Liane V again; she’s used a sticker that says “new reel” to get people over to her profile, increasing the chances that it’ll get more views and likes. 

Instagram pods IG stories Liane V

Instagram stories are a huge feature on Instagram, so be creative and harness it to boost your engagement!

Include Calls to Action in Your Captions 

Last but not least, ask your followers for more engagement! You have to write captions that implore your followers and viewers to take action. It may seem obvious to you what a user should do, but perhaps they don’t really know. 

If you mention it in the caption explicitly, they’ll know exactly what action you’re trying to get them to take, and they can do it. You can use things like: 

  • Double tap if… 
  • Tag someone who… 
  • What’s your favorite…
  • Who agrees? 
  • Type an emoji if you feel a certain way 

These are just some examples, and you should customize them to fit in with the post, but below we have a few examples that you can follow. 

First, Studio McGee lets users know about the tips that they can find related to the post’s content, asking them to head over to their blog and check it out. Your Instagram content can get you not only likes, but also funnel people to external websites. 

Instagram pods CTA Studio McGee

Another way you can get people to do something is to direct them to your link in bio, just like Curtis Lepore does here. He was live on Twitch and wanted users to go check him out, so he told them what to do in the caption. This is also a great example of cross-promotion. 

Instagram pods CTA Curtis Lepore

Lastly, we have Food I Love You So Much (food_ilysm) here with an interactive-style post, offering users a bunch of different soup images and then in the caption, followers are asked “what’s your #1 soup of all time????”

Instagram engagement pods CTA food_ilysm

This is another great example of how to get your followers excited and ask them to interact; when people have the chance to talk about themselves and share opinions, they usually take it. 

These are just 3 examples of how to use CTAs in your captions on Instagram, but be creative! Get your users interested and captivate them, directing them to action.

Engagement Groups Alternatives 

Don’t like the idea of using engagement groups, but still want to enlist the help of a third party? Here are some additional options if you’re looking to boost your engagement on Instagram. 

Thunderclap 

Thunderclap is the premier Instagram growth service, offering you 100% organic interaction strategies to help you reach your target audience. When you use the service, you can save time by delegating your Instagram growth to a team of experts while you focus on creating the best content possible and managing other elements of your brand or business. 

Through cutting-edge AI technology and human oversight, Thunderclap uses your targeting instructions to connect you with the right Instagram users, increasing your followers, likes, comments, and more. 

With flexible plan options and top-quality support, you will gain real engagement from relevant Instagram users who care about your content, helping to generate leads, increase conversion, boost your social proof, and more.

Final Thoughts: Instagram Pods 

When all is said and done, Instagram pods may be a good way to increase your engagement and generate more interest in your profile through a stronger performance against the Instagram algorithm. 

There are some issues, like gaining engagement that isn’t relevant to your long-term goals, but if you need a short-term solution to boost your social proof, you may consider using Instagram pods. 

Follow the 5 tips above for stronger engagement through content strategy development, and consider using an organic Instagram growth service like Thunderclap for better, longer-lasting results. 

Have you ever used Instagram pods? Let us know your experience! 

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