With so many people staying home and businesses trying to help each other, you've probably been invited to join a chat, challenge or an Instagram Follow Group (also known as pods).
The intention is good and they work in different ways. For example, I've seen messages or posts on Facebook asking you to follow accounts and in return, other accounts will follow you back, leaving you with hundreds of followers "fast & easy". Sounds nice, right? But for Instagram, this could be flagged as suspicious growth activity and affect your engagement or ban your account. Plus, these new followers are very likely not your ideal client, just other businesses trying to boost their numbers. So in the end, this will only affect your stats and bring you no revenue. Do you think it's worth it? My honest is opinion is no, thank you!
On the other hand, we have the pods or Instagram Follow Groups. You are asked to follow accounts and engage with them daily and in return, you will receive the same. You might think, this is pretty cool! My posts will have tons of comments and engagement from real accounts, right? Well .... yes and no. Here's the truth:
Since 2018, Instagram (and Facebook, for that matter) announced its commitment to promote 100% authentic activity on the platform. While Instagram hasn’t explicitly banned pods, it’s clear that these group activities are against the Community Guidelines:
“Help us stay spam-free by not artificially collecting likes, followers, or shares, posting repetitive comments or content, or repeatedly contacting people for commercial purposes without their consent.” Facebook, in fact, suspended at least 10 groups dedicated to gaming Instagram’s algorithm and exchanging likes, comments and follows among members last year! The other thing to consider is that these pods are very time-consuming! In the beginning, everybody is committed and excited to leave authentic comments but as the days go by, you'll end up with generic comments and feeling tired of spending so many hours on the platform. And what's worse, after the pod or challenge is over, you are left with your regular engagement that is likely significantly lower than what you had while you were in the group, and again, raise a red flag.
So what can you do? Be real, avoid the urge to trick the system, create a strong Instagram strategy, be consistent, care for your community and contact me if you have any questions. You can also check out this interesting study on pods conducted by Tailwind.