Updated: Aug 25, 2019
In refreshing my research on Instagram for a workshop I recently put on for the Daytona Small Business Development Center, I stumbled across an article that detailed the latest Instagram "hack." Written by the social media team over at Hootsuite (a service I both use and recommend to other small businesses) the article was titled "Do Instagram Pods Work? The Truth Behind Instagram’s Latest Engagement Hack". Click here to read it in its entirety.
In short, Instagram users are banding together in groups or"pods" to collectively "like" and engage with each other's content in order to beat the Instagram algorithm. You see, just like Facebook, Instagram moved away from a chronological approach to your news feed. This means that you aren't necessarily seeing the most recent content from people you follow, but rather a curated collection of posts with the most engagement. Posts with more engagement get bumped to the top by the algorithm, because the assumption is "Well, people have shown interest in this. In all likelihood, MORE people will also like this, therefore, it should be shown to more people." It makes sense, in theory. Instagram is super focused on providing high quality content, and pride themselves as a place for people to share what they're passionate about. They want to help you discover and engage with other people who like the same things you do. When you use Instagram as it's intended, that's exactly what happens. It's a beautiful thing!
But what happens when "hacks" like these so-called engagement pods take advantage of the system? The algorithm becomes artificially hijacked, and posts that have not earned the genuine engagement--a natural result of high quality, relevant content--rise to the top. So do these tacky Instagram hacks actually work? Technically, yes. The pod-backed posts will be more visible to more people in the Instagram feed, which is likely to engender more engagement. It "works" in that your numbers will go up--likes, comments, and potentially followers as well. But who ARE those followers? Are they your target audience? What if they're just bots? I'm a firm believer that this is not the point of social media. It's NOT just about the quantity--to me, it's about the quality. For small businesses to succeed on social media, they have to make a genuine effort to connect with their target audience by providing high quality, relevant content. Selling should take a back seat in favor of meaningful connection. This is relationship marketing for the digital age. Don't be seduced by the siren song of these fast-moving hacks. Though they sometimes drag their feet about it, platforms like Facebook and Instagram tweak their algorithms all the time in order to stamp out these kinds of disingenuous tactics. It might take a little more time to get your social media numbers where you think they should be, but in this case, I'm a strong believer in slow & steady wins the race. All of my social media strategies are value-engineered to produce exactly these kinds of results. If you're interested in learning more about how to grow your social media presence and reach quality customers, give me a shout!
Hi! 👋🏼 I'm Grace. I'm a published writer, branding expert, speaker, & marketing pro. I founded the Grace Marketing Group™ (formerly Grace Everitt Consulting) because I am CRAZY passionate about helping businesses & creatives become the best they can be through effective marketing solutions. I graduated with high honors from the University of Florida with a BS in Marketing & Entrepreneurship. To learn more about how I can help you improve, visit www.gracemarketinggroup.com or join us on Facebook.