From purchasing followers to creating fake accounts, when it comes to upping your presence on Instagram, there’s always something that can be done to game the system.
I had forgotten about the concept of “comment pods” until Instagram’s @creators account elaborated on their effectiveness earlier this week.
A comment pod is when a group of social media users (for this purpose, we’ll refer to Instagram) agrees to like and comment on each other’s posts, in an effort to drive more engagement and make the content appear higher in other’s feeds.
I had to laugh at this for a moment, because this is basically the foundation of any good friendship on Instagram. My best friends’ posts? You better know I’m going to like every single one and comment all the time. And they’ll do the same for me. So, are we a pod?
Well, this concept is a little more planned than that. Members of such groups “meet up” via direct message or other avenues outside of the platform (some pods reportedly have as many as 500 users of similar accounts) to alert one another when they have a new post as well as to inform fellow members, who then have their chance to show their support of that post.
A year or so ago there was a lot of hoopla over some Instagram influencers liking and commenting on each other’s posts. I remember thinking, “So, maybe they’re just friends?”
And therein lies the problem with this concept.
Many of these people probably are friends. And it’s heartwarming when we see accounts we follow (ones we don’t know personally but maybe feel like we do) support one another. But knowing that this sort of pact exists makes me feel skeptical of what’s genuine and what isn’t and, frankly, that sucks.
Then again, who cares? I mean, sure, it’s a little sneaky, but it’s a huge collaborative effort. Is this so awful? Maybe it’s just me being so tired of bad news all the time.
I guess it depends on what’s to gain here. The idea is that if a post gets an impressive amount of engagement quickly, it makes it more likely to appear on Instagram’s Explore feed, thereby putting it before a much larger audience from which it could benefit (whether that’s through likes, in-app purchases, new followers, etc.).
And some people have absolutely sworn by this method, claiming it to have upped their following immensely. But according to a recent Q&A featured on the @creators Stories, this success won’t be long-term.
This is NOT new. A quick Google search on comment pods turns up articles from as early as February 2017. But as a constantly evolving algorithm continues to provide new hurdles for users to clear, people will always be tempted to try new ways around them.
So, should you join a pod? Let’s just say this: In an industry like this one, where it feels like people from so many facets of it are already so supportive of one another, maybe you’re already sort of in one? Okay not an actual, premeditated one, but that’s probably for the best. Just keep doing what everyone always says to do these days: Be authentic, spread the love, and stay in it. There are no shortcuts to success, and those who do take shortcuts usually get lost again at some point.
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