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The dark side of Instagram pods


The dark side of Instagram pods

Many users consider that Instagram pods are part of a “black hat” type strategy to increase engagement and dissemination . Others think that it is just a gray area where everything is valid. However, those who are clear about the nature of this type of strategy are Facebook and Instagram.In 2018, Facebook removed several “groups” with thousands of users because they promoted the use of Instagram pods.
In 2019, this same social network suspended 65 accounts on its platform and 35 on Instagram ( all from Spain ) for demonstrating inappropriate behavior, similar to that of pods.
Similarly, in 2019, Instagram began to eliminate interactions (likes, reactions and comments) generated by automated bots.
Instagram pods usa full phone number : Instagram business blogThe Facebook ecosystem (including Instagram) is fighting more and more against all those actions that seek to increase the rates of engagement and diffusion in an unnatural way. Such as the actions of pods on Instagram and engagement baits on Facebook .What are ‘Instagram pods’ and how do they work?
The strategy of Instagram pods consists of creating groups of users that help each other to increase their levels of engagement . How do they do that? Well, each user agrees with their colleagues to interact with their publications. Thus, each one receives the support of all the others when publishing an image.


Hence the term pods , whose translation could be “herds”.In other words, “you like me and I like you.” Although according to each Instagram pod, the type of interaction that must be carried out may vary between:Likes.Comments.
Mention of other users in the comments.
And even the “Save to collection” is also valid.
In order to function, these Instagram pods (also called engagement groups ) maintain constant communication through platforms such as Telegram and WhatsApp . Thus, when a member makes a post, he alerts others to go and interact with it.What is the end goal of these engagement groups?On Instagram, when a publication reaches higher than average engagement levels, it gains better positioning before the algorithm, since the system assumes that said content is important. So the goal of Instagram pod interactions is to fool the platform’s algorithm through coordinated (unnatural) engagement actions .However, the improvement in the positioning of the publication does not occur in the Instagram feed, but in the Explore page .Instagram pods exploreSource: Instagram press

Therefore, to be successful in this escalation of position through the Instagram pods , you have to meet two requirements:The partners in the engagement group should interact with the content within the first hour from the Betting Email List it was published, much better if it occurs in the first 20 minutes.
The post must have a very good use of hashtags . This allows the algorithm to correctly classify the content to get it to people who might be interested in it.Types of Instagram pods
Each Instagram pod varies based on different parameters , which are related to the goals of the founders and the participants. In many cases, these parameters are established in a series of internal regulations that allow better management of the organization of each engagement group.This context means that there are multiple types of pods on Instagram . Among the main ones we can mention the following:Pods according to types of interactions
On Instagram you can interact with posts in various ways. Therefore, there are engagement groups that prescribe what interactions their members must make in order to maintain uniformity in the efforts of each one.Thus, there are pods whose specific interactions vary between:Only exchange of likes.
Comments only. In these cases, there are groups in which comments must be 4 words or more and where emoticons do not count.
Combination of likes and comments at the same time. These types of groups are the most popular.
Mention of other users (outside the group) in the comments of each publication. With this, a greater diffusion is sought, although it could well be considered a type of spam.
Repost of the publication in each of the participating profiles.
Pods according to social circle: acquaintances or strangers
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A pod is basically a community. Understanding this we have that there can be two types of communities according to the interpersonal relationship between the participants.

On the one hand, there are the engagement groups made up of close acquaintances: family, friends, work colleagues, study colleagues, among others.

On the other hand, there are the Instagram pods in which their users do not know each other . These are the most common, since they are the ones that are formed in social networks and maintain communication by WhatsApp or Telegram.

Within this last category are covered all the pods mentioned below.

Pods according to themes: common or different
As a “commercial relations channel”, an engagement group can only accept users who belong to the same business , profession or topic. For example, there are pods whose participants sell products, photographers pods, gastronomy pods, among others.

In contrast, there are groups without restriction of themes. It does not matter what each participant does or what their interests are, they all support each other regardless of the theme of each publication.

Pods according to geographical areas
Instagram pods spainAs the name implies, there are pods that group users from specific countries. These engagement groups are more useful for entrepreneurs or national brands, who are only interested in attracting followers from their own country.

Pods according to access policies: open or closed
There are Instagram pods that can be considered public, as access is open to any user. They simply must adhere to group policies.

On the other hand, there are also private or closed pods, which establish some type of admission process for new members. This process can range from just answering a couple of questions to having to pay an admission fee .

How did the idea of ​​pods come up on Instagram?
In 2016, Instagram officially announced a change in its algorithm related to the positioning of posts in feeds. Thus, on that date a before and after was marked for content creators.

As the statement indicates:

“The order of the photos and videos in your feed will be based on the probability that you are interested in that content, your relationship with the person who publishes it and the time of publication.”

What does this mean and how does it relate to engagement groups?
It means that Instagram began to give priority to those publications that are most interesting to users, instead of placing the contents in the feed in simple chronological order.

The key point of this is that, to measure the “interesting” of a publication, the algorithm analyzes the engagement rates of each photo or video when published. By understanding this premise, engagement groups began to emerge as an association of people who support each other to tell the algorithm:

“Our posts have good engagement, so they are interesting and deserve a good ranking.”

Why did this change occur?
Because Instagram, like any social network, wants users to stay longer browsing its platform. To achieve this, you must guarantee access to quality content and personalized according to their interests.

This is confirmed by Brian Blau, vice president of Gartner, when speaking for The New York Times about the change of the Instagram algorithm :

“These companies always want to give you the best you can see … If an algorithm can give you much more attractive content and more often, you will stay longer.”

In this sense, Instagram constantly modifies its algorithm in order to provide an increasingly powerful, emotional and fascinating user experience (UX). For example, in 2018, this social network announced another change to improve the feed in terms of:

Automatic update of new posts in feeds.
The priority level given to the most recent posts.
Based on all this context, it does not matter how many thousands of followers a person may have, if those followers do not interact with their posts, then that content has no relevance to the algorithm. Hence the emergence and popularization of Instagram pods.

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Why has the Instagram pods strategy gone viral?
The short answer is that pods on Instagram have gone viral because they work , although not as most believe.

The long answer is:

Since 2016, with the change of the algorithm, a key factor was determined: the levels of engagement during the first hour of publication of a content are the most important. Especially those that are reached during the first 20 minutes.

This happens because, for Instagram, showing updated publications is part of the strategy of prioritizing the most relevant content. Since users want to stay informed of what is happening at the moment.

However, by understanding how the Instagram algorithm works, we realize that interaction groups do not have the desired effect on feeds, only in Explore.

Advantages of engagement groups
Based on the above, Instagram pods are popular because they have been shown to be effective for the following:

Making an image or video have a good position in the Explore tab, this allows to impact a wider audience .
Create the feeling that a content is popular, this encourages other users to interact with it just by seeing so many likes and comments.
“Demonstrate” that a brand cares about its followers, this by responding in public to all the comments made by fellow pod members.
Promote natural conversations with the brand, this by creating discussion topics in the comments made by your peers in the pod.
Finally, one of the most important advantages of pods on Instagram for brands is that it multiplies the effectiveness of the sandwiching technique .

Access the complete guide: Instagram for companies
What is sandwiching and how does it relate to pods on instagram?
The term sandwiching could be translated as sandwich or sandwich. Either way, both meanings convey the essence of this practice on Instagram.

Sandwiching is a technique that consists of publishing promotional content chronologically in the middle of two content with high levels of engagement. Thus, just as in a sandwich, the best is in the middle.

For example:

On a Monday, the brand publishes a funny image, which generates a lot of engagement.
On Tuesday, publish promotional content, which seeks to produce sales.
On Wednesday, repost any image that generates high engagement.
In this way, the promotional message is in the middle of two publications that are very relevant to the algorithm and, above all, relevant to users .

The first post helps the second post to be more outreach by showing the algorithm that the profile is creating interesting content.
The second publication serves to remove the feeling in users that they are following a promotional profile. In addition, this second also tells the algorithm that the quality of the content has not decreased.
The relationship between sandwiching and Instagram pods is that they serve to support all three posts . For example, if peers in the pod “mention” other users in the comments of posts 1 and 3, there is a high probability that those other users will react positively to that special content.

The dark side of Instagram pods
It could well be said that Instagram pods are on the dark side of the force . A strategy with many black hat characteristics that not only seeks to circumvent the algorithm, but also brings its negative consequences for the participants themselves.

Let’s see, next, why are Instagram pods not recommended?

Facebook and Instagram penalize inauthentic actions
Facebook and Instagram are powered by machine learning algorithms that are increasingly powerful and impressive.

An example of this is that, at the 2019 F8 conference , Facebook announced that Instagram’s artificial intelligence can already recognize offensive words in a comment before it is published. Upon detecting them, the platform generates a notification to the user that says:


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