We’re all after that goldmine, myself included. I don’t know about you but every time one of my posts goes viral, my face says “meh, I couldn’t care less” but there are fireworks going off inside my chest. Oh, that sweet sweet engagement.
But people have started to feel that changes to Instagram’s algorithm have drastically affected how well their posts perform. A popular rumor (which Instagram responded to on Twitter) is that just 7% of your followers now get to see your posts and interact with them. Which explains why people resort to engagement pods.
But what is an engagement pod?
In simple terms, an engagement pod is a group of people that shares their posts within the group so that all participants can like, comment, share it. Some engagement pods which are easily found consist of thousands of people whereas others might only consist of 20-30.
Engagement pods exist most famously for Instagram, though similar engagement pods exist for Facebook and Twitter too.
All the participants like each others’ posts, get a lot of likes on theirs, everyone wins.
Why engagement pods are (mostly) not effective
Sounds like a great hack, right? Every post you share receiving 100 or more likes and comments? Well, it doesn’t always work like that.
Finding a good engagement pod that doesn’t have thousands of people in it gets you the likes. If you were receiving 30-40 likes on a post before, such an engagement pod can get your next post more likes than are believable. And that’s one part of the problem. It's easy to tell if the likes on your post aren't legitimate.
One way I check if someone is “sourcing” likes to their posts is by scrolling down their Instagram page. If I see a drastic change in engagement on their posts in the space of a few posts, it smells fishy. And Instagram can probably smell something wrong too.
When you join an engagement pod, your IG feed experiences a similar kind of influx of likes and comments. However, if a lot of likes is what you’re going for, then you’re getting just that.
However, if you’re a business owner or run a one-person consultancy and your end goal is to attract the attention of your current and future clients, then this might be a bad strategy. You see, engagement pods do get you an injection of likes and comments, but they’re not as effective in getting you a steady flow of followers to your account.
Not to mention, if you’re a brand with values, getting likes through engagement pods is probably fraud, and you’re better off aiming for good engagement instead.
What is good engagement?
Good engagement is organic engagement. Incredibly difficult to come by these days because social platforms want you to pay to get more eyeballs on your content.
But, as I briefly mentioned earlier, Instagram did us a favor by telling us what to focus on to get engagement on your posts in an organic way. Here’s what they said:
So what your users see on their Instagram feed is based on
- Accounts they engage with the most
- When it was posted
- How often they open up Instagram
- How many people they follow.
They also go on to say that if someone follows you, your post will be present on their feed, though sometimes they might have to scroll down a bit to see it.
How to get good engagement?
So what does this imply for businesses that want their content to (a) show up on the feeds of their followers, and (b) get more engagement on their posts?
- You need to follow a schedule that coincides with when your followers are most active on instagram so that you post only at the best times of the week. To find out when your followers are most active, open up your Instagram Insights tab, go to Audience, and scroll down to Followers to see a break down of when and what part of the day your followers are most active. Schedule your posts accordingly.
- You need to engage with your target audience and reply to people who comment under your post. Take part in the discussion. The more you engage with them, the more they will engage with you, and the better the chance that you’ll keep popping up at the top of their feeds.
- Choose your hashtags wisely. This can never be impressed upon enough. The general idea is to choose a mix of broad and narrow hashtags to make your content discoverable. Here’s a complete guide on how to do that on instagram (and other channels). You might also find it useful to use an app like Unionmetrics or Flick to compile a list of low, medium and high competition hashtags to use with your content.
- Lastly, create good content. You’ll find a few examples below of what good content can look like.
Bright visuals with large text can create for great content for instagram. You don’t need to write an essay or spend hours thinking about the copy. Use a quote every now and then.
Bright colors, photographs, and good product photography make for content that people will stop to look at. The only thing that makes this better is..
..pictures of people! If your colleagues aren’t camera shy, it always helps to put a face (or faces) to your business. A smiling face creates a connection with your audience on Instagram right away. Even if they don’t know you, they’re very likely to leave a ❤️ on your Insta post.