We’re adding a new topic to our #RealTalk series today, this time talking about engagement pods. Now don’t get me wrong, I think people’s intentions are really good when they decide to join one. With constant algorithm changes and a change in how people are using the platform, I know that people are desperate to just get their content and businesses in front of people. So why not agree to engage regularly with a group of other people to help boost your engagement and in return kind of trick the algorithm into increasing the reach of your posts? It sounds good in theory, right?! Now don’t get me wrong, I would never compare this to those who go to extremes of unethical practices like paying for followers or likes. Seriously, just don’t do that. There’s just a better way to spend your time (because pods are time-consuming!) that will have a much bigger impact on your bottom line. Here’s why we don’t recommend them to our clients…
Engaging with the Same People
You will see us preach day in and day out that engagement is the true key to social media success. It’s the one thing on social media that has not changed in the last decade we’ve been in the industry. Here’s why, relationships matter! People want to connect with other people and being genuine and authentic on social media is a great way to do so without ever having to leave your house. So if you’ve joined an engagement pod, you’re on the right track about the engagement side of things. The thing is, when you’re in a pod, you’re spending time engaging with the same people day after day. Now if all of the people in your pod are your perfect target market okay, but I have a feeling that’s probably not the case. Not that talking to the same people is a bad thing, but when you’re spending alllll of your time making sure you commented on everyone in your pod’s posts, it’s eating into your time for other (more productive!) things.
Takes away from time you could be engaging with your target audience
Now onto the next point, as I mentioned above, being in a pod can be time consuming! And when you are so focused on engaging with the same 10-15 people you are taking away from the time you could be connecting with your target audience. Ding, ding, ding! Which if you’re using Instagram as a tool to market your business and grow your audience that is the point right? Connecting with your target audience! So all of that time you’re spending in your pods could be spent working your own feed, replying to your own comments, monitoring hashtags, monitoring location based hashtags, and discovering new accounts through the explore page!
Life is busy and social media is time-consuming, I get it. Trust me, my career literally exists so that we can fill in the gaps for our clients with stuff like this! Here’s the thing though, even if you’re doing everything on your own it’s all about making the most of the time you do have. Which is why it’s my professional opinion that pods are not the answer. Instead, replace that time and spend it seeking new accounts and commenting on a variety of different people’s posts each day. The ROI will be much more valuable and by commenting on other people’s feeds you’re still increasing the chance they’ll come check out your account, comment back or even give you a follow. All wins!
If you’re an influencer, brands are keeping at eye on this
If you’re an influencer then here’s another reason pods aren’t the answer… brands and agencies (like us) are catching on. This is coming from someone who advises brands on influencer partnerships and reaches out to people who we think would be the perfect fit for our client campaigns. So what’s the big deal? Well, brands don’t want fluff… when brands decide to partner with influencers they’re investing into you and your audience and when they see the same people posting on post after post, it’s easy to identify that there’s some fluff going on. It becomes evident very quickly that the audience you’ve pitched us on or the numbers reflected in your media kit might not be exactly what meets the eye. So once we’ve picked up on this it’s easy to spot that the people commenting are most likely part of a pod and not as interested in the brands or products you’re posting about than they seem. Which as a brand, it’s your goal to reach new audiences and introduce your products to new people so if most of your engagement is from pods then it becomes clear that they probably won’t receive the ROI they’re hoping for by partnering with you.
What we recommend to do instead of engagement pods
Now that you’ve read about a few reasons why engagement pods might not be the answer, let’s talk about some actionable advice for what I do recommend! So what is that?! 30-60 mins a day of authentic and genuine engagement with others. Now I get it, at first that amount of time might seem like a lot. Like Anna, I hardly have time to maybe squeeze in a workout or make dinner in between all of the crazy! To make it easier, you can break down this time into 3 sets of 10 mins… or a couple 15 mins segments. Maybe it’s on your commute (if you take public transportation) or maybe it’s squeezing in a sesh during your lunch, whatever you can fit in. It’s all about creating a habit and doing it on a consistent basis.mHere’s the thing too, if you have an iPhone, you’ve probably noticed that screen time report that pops up every week. And if you actually open it I almost guarantee you’re already spending that (if not more!) time on the app each day already. It’s so easy to just mindlessly scroll through our feeds and stories… I get it. But this is all about turning that time of mindless scrolling into intentional power sessions. Using the reminders app on your phone to check in and remind you each day is a great tool. As is using the timer app when you’re actually doing your networking. You’ll soon realize how fast that time goes by!
Now during that time, instead of just double-tapping posts as you go or flipping through stories, I’m going to suggest you leave comments! And not comments like “nice pic” or “love this” or the emoji series “💖🙌🏻🎉”. Instead, leave real and thoughtful comments that actually have to do with the content people are sharing! Reply to stories! Stop hiding and actually spend time connecting with others! Go through your feed, go through hashtags and find new people to connect with! If you want to be successful on social media you need to take social networking to heart. Do this 30-60 mins a day and I promise you you’re going to start to see progress and better yet, you can spend that time getting really strategic about the people you want to connect with. Which is why this strategy will always trust engagement pods, in my professional opinion. So get consistent, get targeted and get your commenting on!