Subtext: my most hated trend of all time.
I’m doing it. I’m writing a blog about Instagram pods because dammit, I can’t bite my tongue any longer. I’ve been watching in horror as pods evolved from a fun group thing, in a (misguided) effort to support each other, to a full-blown disease of my beloved Instagram.
Enough is enough. I declare war on the pods. Don’t @ me.
Instagram pods will ruin your account & coming back from one can take months, if not a year. I would sugar coat it, but we don't have time.
Before I tear open the disease that is a pod, let's talk about the juggernaut that is the Instagram algorithm (in very basic terms, I don’t want to put you to sleep).
The IG-A (I just made that up, but looks cool right? I'm running with it) is basically there to determine how relevant your account is. Your account becomes less relevant if you constantly repost other pictures from IG or google images or Tumblr etc. It becomes less relevant if your content is low quality, i.e, your pictures are well shot & high res. Your account becomes less relevant if your engagement sucks… Which is where people start to panic and get themselves into trouble.
Obsessing over likes and comments leads many to join pods. The thought process is pretty obvious: other real people boosting the engagement on likewise real accounts. This spike in activity is perceived by the pod dwellers as ‘real’ because it’s not coming from fake accounts and they aren’t buying likes.
But you are.
They aren’t your customers. They aren’t your target market. They didn’t find you because they connected with you, your content or your message. They are real people giving out fake likes, and here’s the kicker: it won’t last.
Filling up your follower list with people who don’t look lsimilar to your real customers, starts skewing all the important data. Instagram becomes confused about what kind of people like your account. Want to set up an ad? Well, it’s probably going to perform a little worse, because… Who is your target audience? And when this data starts to become muddied, it has a massive flow-on effect. Who does Instagram now suggest your content to?
But that’s just the start of your problem.
The pod people will fade, or you’ll become inactivate or the tribe will get eaten by a looming sea monster, and after months of confusing the IG algorithm, all of a sudden, your confused demographic doesn’t seem to be responding to your content anymore. This is the part that will hurt you for months because suddenly… you are relevant to no one.
Your original followers were diluted.
And as Instagram saw your follower count & engagement grow it started applying new rules in determining your relevancy. Rules that are almost impossible to abide by, because all this activity and engagement was fake.
And when it comes to Instagram, the higher the fake engagement rate, the harder the fall.
*Please note, this an extremely condensed, abridged, compacted version of a complex subject.