So I suppose it’s no secret anymore. I used boost pods (or boost groups) to grow my engagement. These hush-hush pods have been showing popularity among influencer’s since changes were implemented last year. Since then, I have used both DM pods in the Instagram app and on the Telegram app. But after hours of researching on my own, (and months of using them myself) I’ve found that these pods can actually be detrimental to your organic growth and potential business opportunities in the near future.
I don’t pretend to know everything and this is just my personal opinion! You may or may not agree but I just want to remain transparent and open about my journey. This post is mostly centered around Instagram and why Bloggers (in particular) might want to think twice about engaging in these pods.
What’s a boost pod? It’s a crafty way to beat the algorithm on Instagram by sharing your content with a pod (or group of people) to like and comment on your post. You will then in turn, like and comment on their post’s. You can create these groups in the Instagram DM feature. They are created to help boost each others content. The ones that I am already in are supportive and helpful and are all Mom groups. We Mama’s tend to form these groups in RL rather easy so it’s no wonder there are so many Insta Mom groups!
There are also pods created outside of the Instagram app on an app called Telegram. This is an instant messenger app that can also be used to form a boost group on a larger scale. Some have a smaller following of a couple hundred, all the way to a much larger scale of a couple thousand. They are all run slightly different with one consistent goal: before you share your post, you must like and comment on those prior to you post.
Although that sounds like a great way to boost your likes and comments, there are some downfalls to it…
1. First it takes a great number of time to “telegram” your post. Liking and commenting on others posts takes time away from boosting your own content, creating captivating images and sharing across all platforms. I personally found myself telegraming posts daily and feeling like it was almost a burden in my life. Another unwanted chore. Essentially, a waste of time for all the work I put into my website and brand.
2. Telegram is not secure like whatsapp and signal. One major problem Telegram has is that it doesn’t encrypt chats by default. According to interviews with leading encryption and security experts, Telegram has a wide range of security issues and doesn’t live up to its proclamations as a safe and secure messaging application. Sound safe?
3. Being in a pod with people who have different niches than you can provoke Instagram to NOT boost your post. If you are a fashion blogger/influencer and you have to like a post of a dog, this kind of behavior will tell Instagram that you want to see more pic’s of dogs. They will even appear in your explore page. This has happened to me on a number of occasions! Even following these Telegram admin’s can greatly affect who’s seeing your content… especially if their account is not up to par with yours.
4. The Instagram algorithm is different than the Facebook algorithm in a sense that the discoverability on Instagram is unlike any other platform. When you are commenting and liking your Instagram pods posts, they will not show up on your followers feeds what so ever. And vice-versa. You want your content to be shared but instead it’s not showing in any of their feeds. Instagram is more private than Facebook and that’s the intentions of the Algorithm.
5. The sort of “sweet spot” to obtain the most engagement and to be boosted by Instagram itself, is in the first 15 minutes after you post. Likes and comments after that time period won’t count towards the end goal: Getting your post seen by the most people in your target market. So, you will have to take in to consideration the accountability of others on your content. Now, I don’t like all that pressure. I feel terrible when all my likes and comments are done after 12 hours on my friends feeds but my kids get sick and things happen. It’s life!
There definitely are ways to grow your social platforms without using boost pods…
And even though I may be considered a micro influencer by numbers, I still work with brands. In fact, most of my work, if not all, is paid by ways of partnerships with brands. How is this? Let me tell you, blogging is not easy. The work and effort that it takes to create one blog post with affiliate links, high resolution photography and content deserves to be paid. So with that being said, here are ways to work and grow your Instagram presence without pods:
Hashtags are so important to your growth and require a strategy. With the impressions feature on Instagram (available on business accounts) I am able to see how many people have found my photo due to hashtags. Seems like a no-brainer but there is actually more to it than just slapping the most popular #UnderYourPhoto. For me, I will use anywhere between 10 to 20 hashtags per post. You don’t want to use 30 hashtags, (which is Instagram’s limit) Every time you post. Instagram will flag your account and your tag’s won’t matter at all. Also, another good tip is to use a mix of big or popular hashtags with smaller used hashtags. Four instance, if I post a fashion photo and I tag #fashionista, that’s going to have roughly 60,000,000 hits. My post will never make it to the top. However, if I use a smaller hashtag with maybe 10, 000 hits, my photo might have a chance of being on the top and definitely being seen by similar users.
The second tool that is essential when growing your Instagram is utilizing all the Instagram tools provided by the app. This includes Stories, photo, video and Live. Instagram favors those who implement all their tools because that’s why they created them! This year, I want to try and do more live video’s even though they scare the hell outta me. A tip for those of you using them? Make great content and be consistent on your presence. If you are a sweetheart who loves flowers and puppies, be that sweetheart. Make those video’s count!
One of the most underutilized tools is the geo-tag. Always tag your location! A lot of people, especially in big cities, want to see what other people are doing. If you live in a metropolitan area, like say Los Angeles, this tool would be highly beneficial. I’m always checking my location and when I go to a new city, I use this tool to see what places are fun to visit. 📍 I even tag all my stories to get more views which, works VERY well.
One way to get your content seen by others in your niche is by collaborating with fellow influencers or bloggers. This is a tool that I need to use more but I have used in the past. Meeting other bloggers in RL is not only beneficial, its a way to gain more knowledge and help from someone who does the same thing as you! For the record, my Insta Bestie is Karen of forallthingspretty.com and she lives locally here in LA!
Instagram is a numbers game but don’t let that fool you to believing that you need some obscene amount of followers to get noticed by brands. There are numerous articles about how micro influencers are the future. You know that saying fake it till you make it? Well don’t do that. Make it so you never have to fake it. Make sure you stay true to yourself and if your not going to repost other’s photos, stick to it! If you are not going to ever post follow loops on your profile don’t do it! Your consistency will be so clear and brands will see that. They are actually smarter than you think. Be professional and stay consistent and you will be noticed and the Instagram algorithm will work to your benefit. Guaranteed! I’m literally living proof of that.
Engagement is more than just a boost group. Think about it. If there was no pod, how else would you succeed? I’m still in an Instagram pod but have completely abandoned Telegram and I feel great! How else are you engaging with your audience?