Instagram started banning the use of bots and automated activity which were used to increase your followers by liking and commenting on other people’s images, following and unfollowing accounts, etc. Of course the growth hacking communities found another solution that works and is kinda allowed — Instagram pods. The big dawgs will try and shut it down but the little guys will always work out another method — remember Napster?!
A pod is a collective of users within a chat group, usually via the Telegram app or private Facebook groups, who follow a set number of rules and engage with one another’s posts. There are small niche groups that are harder to find and large pods with 1000+ people participating.
I have been hesitant to try this method of growth hacking as I’ve heard the groups can be super random with all sorts of users from porn stars to gardening companies trying to expand their reach. I strongly believe that the time you spend on social media should be focused on actually engaging with your fans and growing your fanbase organically. Back in the day I tried using the bots before Instagram took control of millions of useless auto generated comments on unrelated pictures. I get it Instagram, I understand! Even though you could hack the growth of a correct segment of Instagram, like which hashtags to engage with or the followers of specific accounts — it still wasn’t perfect and made the platform quite messy.
In order to efficiently growth hack with pods you must have your fundamentals in place already; such as consistency in your content and engagement with other users. Without consistency it’s difficult to understand whether hacks are beneficially working for you — you need to be able to measure up what your engagement looks like organically and with the assistance of a pod. If you’re engaging with your followers and peers organically every day (as you should be if you’re serious about growing) you should think of using pods as a little bonus of extra visibility alongside real engagement and growth.
In the name of research I took on the task of testing out pods. Here’s what I found:
- I joined 10 different pods — all of which had different rules for being part of the group.
- The first 20 minutes after posting the link to your post that you’d like to get engagement growth on, you must start reciprocating the activity on others’ posts or you risk being booted out of the group for ‘leeching’.
- Likes and comments on your post start almost immediately — depending on the group activity and the rules of that certain pod.
The first hour after posting content on Instagram is the most crucial. This is the hour where your content is evaluated in a limited pool of your followers. Your reach is limited in that first hour while the Instagram algorithms determine how successful it has been amongst the limited follower pool. It will begin to open up to more and more visibility if your post performs well. This is where using the pods come in handy as you’re able to share the link of your new post to the pod and immediately begin receiving engagement on the post. This ups your visibility nicely. Of course I’m not interested in the random comments of these people but it opens up visibility with my actual followers — are you with me? Hacking the algorithms! This results in more engagement, shares, saves, profile visits and web clicks which otherwise wouldn’t happen if the pod users didn’t open up visibility in the first place.
The fantastic thing about being a musician using pods is that the visibility of your music is key and these random people could actually be beneficial to your music by becoming a fan alongside spreading your reach. By posting in these mega growth groups (pods) with a strategic preview of your song with some cool visuals, you have all these pod users liking and commenting on your content which is spreading your music. There are groups that go into the tens of thousands of members so the potential is amazing for music related posts.
Now my next step is either to create a mega growth group for musicians or find a good one out there that exists already. If anybody reading this knows of one — I am interested. If you’re interested in trying out the general groups, send me a DM on Instagram and I’ll send out some invites (@rebecca_bakken).
These groups do take time and dedication as you’re putting in the work to give other users engagement on their posts too. But as a tool to promote your music, it’s worth giving it a go and tracking just how efficient it is for you. Just be careful that you don’t do too much activity as Instagram blocks you from posting if it thinks you’re spamming by doing a lot of activity in a short space of time.