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Instagram Engagement Pods: Good or Bad?

Full disclosure: I wrote this blog post a long time ago and it was stuck in my Drafts. But I’ve recently had a few questions about my thoughts on this, so it reminded me to share this!

Today’s blog post is all about engagement pods! If you’re not sure what an engagement pod is, it’s basically an arrangement between like-minded individuals (boutique owners, health and fitness coaches, online marketers, etc.) that they will consistently engage with each other’s content in order to try and “beat” the social media algorithm. The goal behind these engagement pods is that if everyone in the pod likes, comments, and shares each other’s content consistently, they’ll be able to reach more people and grow their following faster.

Engagement pods have been around for a couple of years, but they seem to be growing in popularity lately, as it gets tougher and tougher to stand out on social media. Engagement pods are most popular on Instagram, and while I understand the intent, I’m just not a big fan of them. Here’s why:

  • They’re inauthentic. Even though it’s an AGREEMENT between people who are like-minded or in the same industry as you, it still feels like it’s FORCED… like you’re forcing people to engage with you, rather than just providing value and getting people to choose to engage with you and build a relationship with you on their own. In my opinion, inauthenticity is what “kills the mood” on social media. We all appreciate authenticity… so, we need to work together to bring that back! Anytime someone steps outside of their comfort zone to share something very transparent, very authentic, it’s usually something that needs to be heard. These are typically the most engaging posts on social media because even though people may be afraid to share about “taboo” topics like anxiety, depression, struggles with weight, etc… there are TONS of people who deal with these very real issues on a daily basis. So, it’s always the “taboo” stuff that resonates with people and really makes them STOP and read rather than keep scrolling.
  • Many times, engagement pods are made up of people IN THE SAME INDUSTRY! So, in a sense, you could be growing your audience full of people who are doing the same thing as you… aka, “your competition” in a sense. Instead, you should be engaging with YOUR ideal customer… not people in the same industry as you. For example, if you’re a graphic designer… you don’t want to attract other graphic designers. You want to attract business owners WHO NEED graphic design. Make sense?
  • The excitement in an engagement pod totally dies down after a while. In the beginning, it seems like such a great thing. It seems like it will be such a great support system that will help you grow your audience and grow your business/brand. However, unless you have real and true connections to these people (and they’re more than just “social media followers”), the excitement and support will only last so long. In the beginning, you may see a rise in engagement, but once the excitement wears off, the likes and comments will dwindle down. This is just the sad reality of what happens when you’re in a “structured agreement” to engage with people, rather than CHOOSING to engage with others that inspire you and letting people CHOOSE to engage with you. In the long run, engagement pods can hurt your engagement because while you may end up with MORE followers, but LESS engagement on individual posts. I talked about why engagement is more important than followers/audience since in a previous blog post. Check it out HERE!
    • Side note: When the excitement of an engagement pod starts to die out, you may start seeing members resort to “fluff” comments like, “Great pic!” or “Love it!”, or the heart-eyes emoji. Comments like this don’t take any sort of effort or thought, and they’re just not impactful at all. They can also appear spammy… which happens on social media, no matter if you’re in an engagement pod or not. But, you should always try to limit the amount of “spam” you attract! You should be striving to get real, authentic comments that show that your audience is connecting with you and beginning to trust you.
  • Engagement pods go against what social media is all about. Social was created to make connections, KEEP connections, build relationships, build inspiration, build influence, etc. Any time you try to fight the algorithm or the GOAL of social media networks is not going to help your account in any way. Don’t try to get through any loopholes. Just use the channels for what they were created for. After all, they are FREE marketing tools.

I realize that the points I make here may not ALWAYS be true. But, I do think they’re true the majority of the time. If you’re in an engagement pod that you’ve truly seen benefits from, go for it, girl! But if not, here’s my advice: Just focusing on showing up consistently. Bring your truth. Share your value. Don’t give a you-know-what about the algorithm. 🙂 Share what you’re passionate about. Share what your ideal audience member wants and needs to hear!

For LONG-TERM SUCCESS (isn’t that the goal, always?!), it’s better to build slow. When you build slow and stay consistent over a long period of time, you build a genuine audience that will be more connected to you if they’ve been a part of your journey for a longer amount of time. If you grow your account really fast, that’s great, but that large audience likely won’t be as engaged with you if they truly knew your story and your journey. Your goal should always be to build an audience that truly feels like they have a relationship with you! Don’t forget: It’s better to have 1,000 followers that are true fans who really care about your content and truly love you than it is to have 10,000 followers and maybe 500 of them care about you. A high follower count means nothing if there’s not influence, connection, and meaning that comes along with it.

I hope you found value in this!

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Tips on Instagram Engagement Pods

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