Algorithms are there to be gamed.
Instagram users and influencers alike are now looking at Instagram engagement groups as a way of boosting engagement with their accounts. But why I hear you ask? Well, the answer is simple. As Instagram has become increasingly crowded – just look at your Instagram feed and you will see what I mean – it is now difficult for young bucks to make it. For many new entrants, organic reach has become, well, unreachable. This is where Instagram engagement groups have become popular. They are a powerful, not to mention easy, method for luring eyeballs to your account.
Note they are also called Instagram engagement pods, just in case you still have no idea what I am talking about. But I suppose you must have some questions on your mind. Most of all do Instagram engagement pods actually work? Are they capable of gaming the all-powerful Instagram algorithm? After all, they do seem too good to be true. Keep reading and all will be revealed.
Keeping it simple, an Instagram engagement group is a collection of Instagram users who commit to interacting with each other’s Instagram posts to improve their overall engagement and reach. As a group of people, they will also direct messages to each other to help one another out, if they have any questions. Think of it as a type of Facebook group.
Instagram is rife with such groups. At present only a maximum of 32 people can be added to one Instagram direct messaging group. But 32 people can do a lot. Before making new posts each member will announce their post to the group, so they are primed and ready with their likes and comments. If the group is good, this can be done almost instantly.
There is more. Beyond Insta, groups with as many as one thousand pod members are known to exist. They frequently exist outside of Instagram on other social media platforms such as Whatsapp, telegram, Reddit, and Facebook. Besides, they often have a specific time for when members can contribute posts. Every pod is unique. However, they generally have their own rules and regs. That is, if they are a high-quality, well-functioning pod.
Before we go onto how Instagram groups work, there are still a number of things to clear up. Like the real people they represent, Instagram groups are a varied bunch. Usually, the important thing surrounds what comments users give one another, although lots of other characteristics define them too.
Each social media site or messaging platform has guidelines specific to them. Given below are three of the most popular platforms where Instagram pods lurk.
These Telegram groups are the most popular. They are formed on Telegram’s group messaging feature and have a very high engagement rate. Most Telegram groups run on an automated schedule 24/7. What this means is that at every end of the schedule group members are instructed to comment and like on a collection of Instagram accounts. And they are smart too. Several Telegram groups use automated bots that oversee the group. They tell group members when to comment on other people’s posts by dropping a link to individuals’ usernames and desired posts.
After the bot has generated the list of posts to comment on in the group chat, it is group members’ individual duty to visit every Instagram account and interact with the allotted posts. If they fail to interact with the post on several occasions the bot will notice. This is to promote genuine engagements and stave off the dreaded leechers. Usually, group members have around 45 minutes to respond to a post in a given schedule. So be quick.
Instagram Direct Messaging Pods
As we said earlier, Instagram DMs are a great way of forming a pod. They operate very differently from engagement pods on other platforms. Firstly, as a result of Instagram’s 32 person limit, DM groups are smaller than those on other platforms. Although this limits their reach, on the other hand, fake engagement is more easily weeded out.
Unlike Telegram which has schedules, Instagram DM pods are continuous. This means that group members will send in posts all day long which they want Instagram likes on. These notifications can be a little overwhelming. But they will help you get top posts.
Of course, there is no missing this one. Facebook is packed full of engagement groups. Since its takeover by Facebook, it has turbo-charged Instagram growth. Differing from the other two platforms, Facebook-based pods are private and you need to be invited in. This can be difficult, depending on the group. Typically a member’s Instagram content will be vetted to make sure it is up to scratch. Similarly, they also do not schedule Instagram posts like they do on Telegram. They expect continuous engagement from group members. This, of course, is very time-consuming.
The second trait of Instagram engagement groups depends on their preferred reaction. This centers around whether they want only likes, only comments, or both (greedy). Again this can be found in the group’s guidelines. Make sure you check it.
This one is also important. Groups can either have a relatively specific or broad focus. In the latter, group members will be from a variety of areas. They will be united in their desire to help each other out and be helped in kind – quid pro quo style. Needless to say, these groups tend to have a higher rate of engagement than the former. However, many Instagram algorithms do not prize their engagement as it is perceived as fake. In the former, group members have a specific focus on one niche area. This can be whatever: age, gender, or profession. Check out their hashtags to find out more.
As noted earlier certain groups are fussy when it comes to follower count. Admittance to many groups is independent of your number of Instagram followers. However, other groups will only allow you in if you have a specific number of followers. Warning: this can be in the thousands.
Finally, a lot depends on the rules of engagement. Scheduled groups require their members to engage with a set amount of posts or face a shadowban. The other kind of group is a rolling group. Within these pods, members must interact with a specific number of previously published posts before other group members contribute to theirs. Ingenious.
Crunch time: do Instagram groups actually work? Well, like most things in life, the answer to this question is yes and no. (Sorry!). People have different experiences with engagement groups. But here are the main strengths and weaknesses. Let us tackle the negatives first.
Commenting and liking others’ posts is incredibly time-consuming. This is bad because it prevents you from developing other forms of digital marketing for your business. Keeping track of everything is not only time-consuming but brain consuming. It will take loads of your energy. In many cases, you can get kicked out of a group for simply losing track of everything.
Secondly, your usage of a pod can often be limited. Many pods allow for engagement for only a limited number of posts from a member. This means you cannot depend on them to keep promoting your posts over and over again.
Now we turn to the positives – oh yeah! Social media marketing is already a big thing. However, Insta engagement pods will improve the visibility of your posts no end – particularly if you share the same time zone with your pod. Indeed engagement received in the first hour of your post going live is critical. This is because it matches the algorithm. More eyeballs = better Instagram marketing. It is a no-brainer.
If you enter into a smaller, more focused engagement pod, you will get to share knowledge and expertise with other Insta fanatics. Conversely, you will also get a chance to look at their products and techniques. Learn from the competition.
As argued above, Instagram engagement groups have drawbacks and positives. On the face of it, they are perfect. Your posts will get more attention which will make your content appear more popular and so successful. In fact, this will trick the Instagram algorithm into believing your content is better, which will bump it up in others’ reels. As a result, the next time you post the more visible it will be to your loving followers.
Moreover, building up an impressive number of followers is quite a feat. Especially when you are just starting out this can seem daunting, if not impossible. Given this, Instagram groups can appear like a quick fix when faced with the struggle of building up followers organically. Ultimately though the drawbacks of Instagram engagement groups outweigh the benefits. Here is why:
Long gone are the days when you could game Instagram with ease. Over the years, the social media giant has learned how to recognize things that are suspicious. Mark Zuckerberg and co spend millions of dollars on refining their algorithms to promote a genuine user experience. Today a rapid increase in your engagement can set off alarm bells in their algorithms. What this means is that the next time you post it might lead to your content being treated negatively by the platform (even if it does get genuine engagement).
Outcomes are dubious to other Instagram users
People are not stupid. If your number of followers is limited and your posts obtain a disproportionately high amount of activity, people will notice. This can annoy your authentic fans as they will deem you and your account fraudulent. If you are promoting products this can dent the reputation of your brand. Be careful.
You will have to engage with content you do not like or is irrelevant
Chances are you will find yourself in a broad, unfocused Instagram group. While they are easier to get into, you will have to like and comment on low-quality, perhaps mind-numbing, content. Crucially, your other followers will be able to see that you have engagement with this content and it can impact how you are perceived.
Note: this can be circumvented by disguising your behavior through using a fake account to engage with while getting your engagement group to contribute to your real account. Smart eye? But note this will double the amount of time, effort, and complexity which can open you up to getting kicked out.
Do they actually achieve results?
This is a biggy. Members of a pod are not interested in the content of your Instagram account. Essentially they are there for selfish reasons: to improve their own engagement. Rather than investing all your time in Insta engagement groups, it is wiser to focus on building up properly established connections with other users. These will promote your products and create loyal followers no end. The same goes for pod boosted influencers.
Often influencers work in pods and it can be tempting to ask them to interact with your content. However, you should note that influencers who are using pods will not offer any value to your marketing strategy. To avoid this, inspect their content well and apply the same questions to it that we have explored above. Is their engagement relative to their number of followers? Is their account credible? These are the same questions the algorithm will be asking.
If you are just starting out on Insta, the task of building up a big follower base can seem daunting. We understand why you might be tempted to use pods to enhance your marketing techniques. However, you should be cautious. While they may seem like a great quick fix, you should always ask if they are beneficial for you in the long run. When it comes to boosting engagement on Instagram nothing works better than time, energy, and some good old-fashioned networking. Good luck!