Independent Thinking Blog

The Problem with Instagram Pods

Let’s talk about pods.

Not peas nor people snatchers. But Instagram pods.

Pods are formed when people create a small group to like and comment on each other’s photos. The idea is that by generating more post activity Instagram will rank your posts higher — thus gaining more visibility (and more traction) for your posts.

You can read more about Instagram pods here and here.

We’ve been down this road before.

Pods are the Triberr of Instagram.

Instagram pods are like a windy road going nowhere.

Once upon a time there was Triberr. (Okay, it’s still there. It’s just no longer the cool kid among the cool kids.) Triberr was a platform where mostly-small groups of people came together to comment on and share each other’s posts. Tribes had rules, such as requiring that you provide all this love to everyone in your group rather quickly after new posts were published. So people spent a lot of their time in Triberr. All this hands-on work quickly became time-consuming (doh), so the commenting part largely went away and Triberr came up with a way to automate the sharing piece. Now you didn’t even have to read the posts! You just had to share a link on social media.

I never joined a Triberr tribe. As my friend Karen Swim would say, it wasn’t my jam.

Here’s what happened next:

  • The Triberr people’s Twitter feeds became ridiculous link fests
  • Google changed its algorithms to stop the link-fest nonsense

Google’s algorithm shifts were actually more complex, but they were aimed at rewarding the quality of both content and referral sources.

Instagram pods won’t make you an Instagram star.

The Anti-social Social Media Star

I get the allure. Pods generate likes and comments, and Instagram’s new algorithm rewards activity. So get lots of activity, and your posts will show up faster (and more). Until Instagram changes its algorithms again (it will). Or until you get shadowbanned.

Instagram’s community guidelines talk about meaningful interactions, including “not artificially collecting likes, followers, or shares, [or] posting repetitive comments or content.” Pods might hype your popularity but they won’t earn you long-term love.

There is no shortcut to doing social right.

Feature photo by born1945 (Flickr);  winding road by Jack Ford (Unsplash); anti-social by Leio McLaren (Unsplash).

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