I think it was about a year ago when I first time heard the term ‘pod’. Well, an Instagram pod that is. I associated pods with groups of mermaids or perhaps whales… but let’s be honest, mainly mermaids. I stumbled across the term while researching ‘how to grow my engagement on Instagram’ and one of the top pieces of advice was to join an Instagram pod. However, despite some serious Googling, I couldn’t find out how or where to join one, so I decided to start my own.
So here we are, however many months on (I didn’t exactly keep count) and I’m now part of a few different pods. Why am I telling you this? I know many people would never admit to to being part of them. But one of my favourite things about this little blogging community of ours, is honesty. I’m talking about posts or videos that actually and honestly tell you how to grow or help you with reaching your goals. We should be able to share and support each other, without hoarding secrets and viewing everyone as competition. So this post is for anyone, like I was, looking to join or thinking of joining a pod and what to expect when you do.
What is a pod?
Let’s quickly run over the basics. A pod is a group of people that post their content into a group and everyone within that group carries out a pre-agreed action. For some pods, that could be to simply ‘like’ the posted photo, in others it could be to like, comment and save.
Each pod has its own set of rules, and the pod leader (or admin as they like to be called) will determine how strictly these rules are followed. In some cases that can be as dramatic as being removed from the group if you forget to like a post or two!
The main reason bloggers, influencers, content creators (or whatever our latest name is) join pods is of course to help with engagement. By posting your photo into a few groups and ensuring likes/comments your engagement ratio will go up and reach/impressions will follow. Sounds ideal right? In theory yes. But like with all things, nothing is ever as easy as it seems. These pods can be a serious sucker on your time and can ultimately end up taking the enjoyment out of creating and sharing content. However, they can also be a place of great support and inspiration.
Have I lost you? I know, it’s like I can’t make my mind up whether pods are good or bad right. The truth is, it all depends on the pod. So I thought I’d put together a quick guide on the good ones, the alright ones and the damn right ugly ones.
These are the pods filled with 8 – 12 girls with similar interests and content. These are less pods and more friendly spaces to support each other and share tips and advice. There are rules in place, but generally these tend to be quite relaxed, as people will likely want to catch up on your content whether you post it in the group or not.
Sometimes the blogosphere can be a lonely place and these lovely little pods can help take that feeling away. It’s like a team of people all working towards the same goals, but on different projects. Having been in and out of a number of pods, I can tell you these are few and far between, so once you get into one of these, get your feet under the table and never leave.
I wouldn’t go all out and say these are ‘Bad’, especially not compared with what we have coming up next! But there are some pods that are just alright. They help with your engagement, but perhaps you don’t love the content people post in there. This sounds like a small thing, but trust me, having to comment on photos that you don’t like every week can quickly become annoying.
With these pods, you have to either…
1. Leave. Ain’t no body got time for content that isn’t up your street. There are plenty more pods in the sea – literally!
2. Suck it up and do it for the engagement baby
If you look hard enough on Google (and perhaps even in your DM requests) you’ll come across the mega pods. These are usually held over on the Telegram app and can consist of hundreds to thousands of people. These groups have very serious rules, multiple admins and a complete mishmash of content. These pods are purely for engagement, there is no talking allowed and if you miss a post – which is highly likely given the amount of them – you’re outta there my friend.
Whilst these pods are great for your engagement, they’re not so good for your mental health. They pretty quicky turn posting into a chore and if you don’t post? Well, expect the same levels of engagement as before, which given the insta algorithm is no doubt going to be pretty poor. It can become exhausting to say the least. However, whilst I personally think posting in these mega pods is a complete drainer, if you have the patience to use them tactfully, they can be a great strategy. Just be sure to be picky about which group you join, or you’ll end up having to like some seriously questionable things.
If you’re on the hunt to join a pod, your best bet it to message a fellow instagrammer who may also be using them. Keep a look out for people with exceptionally high comments on their photos, as I’ll almost guaratee you they’re in a serious number of pods and will likely extend an invite or two. Or if you’re struggling, do what I did and set up your own! Just remember to invite like-minded people with a similar level of following. For example, if you’re a 5k beauty blogger, a 20k fashion blogger is unlikely to be as engaged with your content. Keep in mind that the best pods are those that include people who generally love your content, not those forced to hit like just because it’s in the rules.
Now there will be those who disagree with pods completely. It’s false engagement blah blah. Well my answer to you is this. With the blasted insta algorithm as it is, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta’ do. In my opinion being a few pods is a damn sight better than those that simply buy their followers and likes. At the end of the day, at least the engagement is real.