For the last few weeks, there’s been buzz in the social media world about Insta pods: a rendition of high school cliques featuring social media influencers and brands.
These pods, or groups of influencers, use a “masses in numbers” approach to grow engagement, attract followers, and disseminate information. These amazingly intricate, yet simple marketing pods work, and brands can leverage them to their benefit if they decide to do so.
What’s a Pod?
Pods are self-ran and self-organized groups of Instagrammers with around 15 members in each. The group is usually started on Instagram for ease of use, but can be used with other group messaging apps like GroupMe and WhatsApp too. Whenever one of the members posts content, it is the duty of the other pod members to engage with he post which can be by reposting, commenting, liking etc. To make sure no post goes overlooked, members usually turn post notifications on, or send their post in a group direct message.
Each pod has it’s own set of rules, some being more strict than others.
One example of a rule is that members have to comment more than four words when they do comment and they only have a limited time window to engage. If members don’t abide by the rules, they are removed. Natalie Franke a photographer and Instagram influencer compared pods to nature, saying “In nature, a pod is a family of dolphins who live together in harmony and support one another.”
Each pod’s common denominator among members varies but are typically focused around one particular theme like color, amount of followers, or particular topics.
Instagram pod’s are pretty specific to Instagram, but there are other ways for brands to use different media platforms the same way. Facebook for example has the ability to form groups also, and have been known for their “boost groups” which operate just like pods.
I haven’t seen this yet, but I’d imagine email lists could be used the same. If you distribute a weekly newsletter for example, you could include other pod members content at the end of your email. Or drop a link and let your list members see their site.
Twitter has group DM capabilities also, and can therefore be used the same to retweet, and increase engagement.
Pretty much, any social platform with group communication capabilities can be used, and should be used to increase online engagement beyond just a following (which can be bought).
To Pod or Not to Pod?
There are, of course, varying schools of thought on if brands should use pods or not. On one hand, it is a way to hack the algorithm Instagram enforced last year that shows posts out of order, and ranked by personal engagement instead.
So, posts with more engagement and comments from pod members, will inherently do better.
Alternatively though, because people commenting on influencers page may be other influencers and not customers, pods can hurt brands who look at engagement for new clients.
Content Reigns Supreme Regardless
According to social influencer firm Hashoff, Instagram remains the No. 1 platform for influencers and brands, which means marketers care about content just as much. Followers, likes, and comments from friends are good, but don’t mean much and appear as favors (like they are) when content is lacking.
So, decide if pods can be used for your business, and customize to your needs. Maybe you only needs three businesses in your pod, instead of fifteen. Or maybe you use Facebook instead of Instagram. No matter the platform, or premise just be sure to prioritize quality content as number one.