Comment Pods – What Are They?
WHO: An Instagram Comment Pod is a group not to exceed 15 people who are in the same niche and have a mutual goal to increase their following.
WHAT: The goal of the group is to leverage the algorithm to favor their posts. The way this is done is by commenting on each other’s photos EACH and EVERY TIME.
HOW: Typically you form your Team of IG friends, form a group and notify each other when a post is up.
IN THE PERFECT SCENARIO: Everyone would comment within 90 minutes of the post going up. And in theory – if everyone did this – your post “might” have a better chance in showing up in the Explore Feed. But in reality …. the requirement to reply within 90 minutes – isn’t achievable for most people because of … well life. Everyone schedules are different.
WHY DID IT START? When Instagram changed the Algorithm (March 2016) it upset a lot of IGers because they felt that their posts were not being seen by their followers anymore. So those that are in marketing or other Instagram Experts developed this methodology to help leverage the algorithm in their favor.
DID IT WORK? In the beginning it “appeared” to actually work. You got more comments, you made new friends and it everyone was hunky dory happy.
You Cannot Fake Authenticity
To pay the bills I run a social media marketing consultancy where I manage multiple accounts for others (mostly non dog related accounts in case you’re wondering). I have a degree in marketing and 20 years in the industry. I enrolled myself in classes to learn how to excel in Instagram so I could provide value for my clients.
YOU JUST CAN’T FAKE REAL COMMENTS: So as part of this comment pod you typically find yourself in a group of 14 others, where your commitment is to reply to a post. Well if you’re not familiar with the account, don’t know much about them, but have a requirement to reply with a post – it’s not always the easiest task to do. It’s like meeting a stranger at a restaurant but being required to have an authentic heart open conversation.
Maybe some are able to do it – but I couldn’t do it naturally. I’m a bit of a wordy IGer already – most of my captions are long form or in marketing people who write as much as I do – use Instagram for micro-blogging.
After a few trials … I politely excused myself and withdrew from the pods. The requirement to comment, the stress of trying to keep up with the posts, and the unfairness of some of the podmates who didn’t reciprocate made it Not Fun At All.
You Cannot Outsmart the Algorithm or Artificial Intelligence
There have been 25 updates to Instagram since Jan 2017 through last week. It might even be 26 as of this week due to the bug they fixed late last week.
A tactic that was formulated in March of 2016 and used today – is simply outdated at this point.
Here’s a few things to consider when you’re in a pod.
- YOU’RE NOT PRESENT: IF … the bulk of your interaction are with your pod-mates you’re really not 1) Engaging with your real friends; 2) Meeting new friends.
- YOU ARE CREATING YOUR OWN ECHO CHAMBER: If you are in a pod – you’ll notice your explore feed starts to fill up with who you’re engaging with. You could potentially be limiting your reach and visibility by engaging in pods and relying on them.
- INSTAGRAM FAVORS POSTS FROM FRIENDS: Basically by always talking to your pod mates – Instagram’s Artificial Engagement has signals from you that – hey these are my friends so I need to keep showing this content to these people.
- THE EXPLORE FEED IS TAILORED TO YOU: I have multiple accounts that do not follow each other. And I test tactics I hear about – to see how they play out in real life. And what I have noticed is the explore feed is tailored to what it thinks you like. It will show you posts from your podmates, posts from photos from accounts you have saved in your collections, posts from people in your city (I get a lot of San Diego posts in my explore feed), posts from my interests, posts from those that are stored in my address book (those come up first all the time). My point being this tactic no longer applies and if it did it only worked for a short period of time last year.
- YOUR COMMENTS LOOK FAKE: It’s easy to spot fake comments if they are consistently your only strategy. And you risk the credibility of your account.
- IT DOESN’T REALLY WORK: Remember how I mentioned that to increase your visibility the March 2016 hypothesis was to improve the velocity of your comments the first 90 minutes. Well several problems with this – not many people truly interact when you post. And second … in the grand scheme of things …. the impact your pod-mates can have on your account is so very small if you have over 200 followers based on math. You’d have to have greater than 30 % interaction (likes + comments) to truly work.
- IT SUCKS UP YOUR TIME: You get stuck doing busy work instead of true genuine interactions.
Focus on your Content. Be Original. Serve Others. Be Authentic
I did meet some very nice people as a result of trying to get into Pods. In fact I’ve stayed friends with them. They are either writers or photographers who I have a genuine respect for and I LOVE seeing their work. We support each other and have become friends.
When a new Instagrammer asks me about these pods, I explain as I have in this article all the ways it could hurt your account, your visibility, your authenticity. But if you enter them with knowing what you’re getting into … and enter them with the intention of meeting new people (like a virtual meet up) then it could help you in the very short run. But don’t count on it as a way to increase your following.
CONTENT ALWAYS WINS: If you look at your favorite accounts … irregardless of their number or engagement … and analyze WHY you like that account. It’s because there’s something that resonates with you. It might be the visuals or the writing. Either way it’s the Content not What they do that compels and attracts you to them. So I always say to someone – focus on your Content first. That time you spend looking at numbers could be better spent in trying to take your favorite photo ever. Notice I don’t say BEST because there are a lot of non-photographer IGers who take amazing photos and tell memorable stories All. On. Their. Mobile. Phone.
BE ORIGINAL. As cliche as this is – be yourself. Everyone is already taken. I was having a conversation with someone who doesn’t have dogs. He has a collection of his favorite dog accounts and he told me – look all the dogs look the same to me – but it’s the visual element and the captions I love.
SERVE OTHERS: I think back to when I was just randomly posting photos of Maggie. She was a puppy. I work at home. She would nap and play as puppies do – and I’d post 2 to 4 photos a day. Yes I was that person. And in my free time I’d go look at other people’s accounts, comment like comment like comment like. I’d get a look from my significant other and he’d ask – what are you doing on your phone so much. And I’d reply – oh looking at dogs. And he’d just look confused and go back to what he was doing.
But interacting first, by going out and meeting new people … those people came to take a peek at my account … and relationships happened but ORGANICALLY.
I remember back in 2004 I was having a conversation with someone about how banks did marketing and he said – it’s a Contact Sport. You can’t make friends if you don’t go out and connect with someone.
Same thing – if your goal is to make genuine friends – then you need to go out of your own account and meet people.
BE AUTHENTIC: Trust me when I say today everyone’s BS Meter is highly sophisticated. Just Be Real and Be Honest. And Be Caring.
What to do instead
Golfers are coached to envision their zen place before they hit the ball and to mentally sit in a space of calm and visualize the shot before they take the swing.
Conversely, in this case – my advice to you is to: Go back to that time when you got your first comment. And when you first started to comment and like other photos. Remember how naturaly your engagement was and how much fun it was? Replicate that. Use Instagram like you just started. And that means …. using your explore, meeting new accounts, liking others and genuinely forming connections. Some other things you could do:
- Comment on your current followers … consistently and genuinely. If what they say and post resonate with you – take the time to express that.
- Search out new hashtags to discover new accounts. This is the only way to expand your horizons. One month I looked up every single breed’s hashtags from A to Z …and made a point to comment on those that I liked. After each exercise I looked at my Explore Feed and it would radically shift and become more varied.
- Use the explore feed regularly and find new accounts to interact with.
- Choose a handful of your favorite hashtags and be sure to consistently interact with those that post within that hashtag with those photos and accounts that resonate with you.
- Remember you have 3 places now to be “seen”. 1. Your own gallery. 2. InstaStories. 3. Go Live.
- Be a good community member. IG’s core value is #communityfirst so be a good community member. IG can measure how fast you respond, at what percentage you respond, if you “like” comments left by others not only on your account or those of your friends. Interact with others before you expect them to interact with you.
- If you don’t have any friends yet, just sit and watch your posts. And visit those first 20 people that either like your post and comment and like theirs back. If you don’t get that many – then go to a past post and pick 20 people that interacted with you to interact back with them. If you are brand new and have no posts, then go to an account you like – and interact with those that liked a certain photo you liked.
- Mix it up – use all the different features of Instagram. Don’t just do a handful of ways to engage.
- And lastly …remember to have fun. If you have anxiety with Instagram or you’re not having any fun, then it’s time to take a break.
Note: If you are in a pod now and enjoy it there is nothing wrong with your pod. Just have the right intentions and that is that the pod is to meet other like minded people but remember, to not rely on that pod to grow your account but to form genuine friendships.
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, VISIT THESE OTHER POSTS:
- How to use Instagram for your dog
- How to add multiple links to your bio (dog bloggers only)
- Dog Influencers and Why Brands Love them
- Dog Instagram accounts over a million
- Accounts between 500K and 1 million
Popz asked Momz if she ever considered moving to Vermont or New Hampshire or even Maine. 😑 #whatdoyoumean #didyoujustgrowasecondhead #lmao😂😂😂 #howaboutno #welovesandiego #lowtidelowlife – Fun Poll. If you had to choose between living with or without snow … which would it be? ☃️ or 🌊 – Popz is from MN and sometimes misses the snow. So Momz just starts complaining about how cold it is. Then it’s back to normal chatter. This morning he said. “Shaving cream is weird. It runs out without any warning whatsoever”. And Momz breathes a sigh of relief. Random chatter is comforting. Let’s not talk about moving to cold places any more. 🤣🤣🤣🤣 – #barkzweekly #btduo #btwolfpack #bostonterriercommunity #bostonterrierpuppy #dogbeach #delmar #dogsofsandiego #offleash #jj_forum_1773 #jj_welovepets #animalsco #vsco