Why I Left My Instagram Comment Pods

Why Comment Pods on Instagram won't help engagement - Why I Left My Instagram Comment Pods by popular DC blogger Alice Tenise

Before we dig in this post, I totally realize that not everyone is going to agree with me on this one. That’s okay. I recently got caught up in the world of Instagram Comment Pods after several members of my blogging groups started buzzing about them. Washingtonian even wrote an article explaining the practice, and framing it as a “support group.” Ultimately, I realized that Instagram comment pods really didn’t help with my engagement at all, and that it wasn’t for me. 

What the heck is a “pod” you ask? It’s a way for bloggers who have a similar niche to beat the Instagram algorithm. They’ll start an Instagram DM group with around 10-15 members, and each member shares their photos to the group. Each member of the group will then leave a comment on the photo you shared. These were mainly started as a way to boost someone’s photo and to “beat” the algorithm.

I tried about three Instagram comment pods before stopping all together. Here’s why the whole system didn’t work for me, and what I do instead to drive engagement!
 

It’s my job to drive engagement

The first thing I hated about Instagram comment pods was the forced comments. My pods had a minimum word requirement of 3-5 words to cater to Instagram’s algorithm, and some of the comments I received just seemed out of place and forced. Not surprising since you’re in a pod that requires you to leave a comment!

If people aren’t commenting on my photos, I can’t blame an algorithm. I only have myself to blame. If the photo is bad or if I don’t write out a caption that’s compelling enough, that’s on me. By leaving the comment pods and really focusing on getting the right shots and captions, it helped me step up my ‘gram game and drive organic engagement.

I was spending a lot of time commenting on the same 14 accounts 

Pretty much all of my time on Instagram was spent commenting on photos from people in my Instagram comment pods. I didn’t have the energy or motivation to scroll through my feed and leave thoughtful comments on other people’s photos, which was a major problem.

Honestly, I have the most success on IG when I sit down and comment on random people’s photos. I’ll pick a hashtag that’s relevant to my niche, and comment away on photos I like. Some people return the favor, some people decide to follow me, and some don’t do anything in return (which is okay!) My time is better spent commenting on other people’s feeds and exposing myself to a new audience!

The likes to comments ratio was out of place

To be perfectly honest? I didn’t notice any real change in my like count either when I was participating in Instagram comment pods. It just inflated my comment count to an unrealistic number. And sadly, it’s kind of obvious when I see other influencers who are in comment pods. It’s pretty farfetched to have 60 comments on a photo that’s only getting 120 likes. Brands aren’t oblivious to pods either — I’ve seen in multiple PR pro groups that they’re on to the practice and it is something they consider when selecting influencers for campaigns!

Long story short: keep it real, and hold yourself accountable 

I totally get that we all want to support each other. There’s nothing wrong with supporting a fellow blogger with a like or a comment. Instagram comment pods just bothered me in general because it was so blatant that the same ~14 girls were leaving lengthy comments on every single one of my photos.

At the end of the day, it really is my job to make you, my follower, want to interact with one of my photos. If I’m not engaging my audience, I’ve failed as a blogger. Relying on inauthentic engagement isn’t going to help my account grow. Trial and error is the only thing that will push me to be a better, more engaging blogger!

What are your thoughts on Instagram comment pods? Let me know!

56 Comments

  1. Audrey Stowe wrote:

    Alicia!!!! Couldn’t agree more with this. I’be left all comment pods but one now and I’m ready to leave that one too. This post was so great to read and totally hit home! xx

    Posted 1.18.17
  2. StylePoise wrote:

    I absolutely appreciate this perspective!

    http://www.stylenpoise.com

    Posted 1.18.17
  3. anne @onedeterminedlife wrote:

    I had no clue what they were until today. I find the idea interesting and I appreciate your insight to your experience.

    Posted 1.18.17
  4. Liz H. wrote:

    What a great post! I think they definitely have pros and cons to them. Thanks for the insight!

    Liz
    http://Www.lizzieinlace.com

    Posted 1.18.17
  5. Interesting perspective! I’ve heard a lot about comment pods, but I have yet to try them. After reading this, I don’t think I will.

    Posted 1.18.17
  6. Tenns Reid wrote:

    I agree as well, and ended up ceasing engagement in the IG pods I was a part of. I actually saw in an FB group that it actually hurt your engagement to be a part of IG pods. I can’t remember verbatim what the person said, but in my experience my overall engagement did appear to suffer when I was actively participating in pods.

    Posted 1.18.17
  7. Barb wrote:

    Wow, I’ve never heard of “pods” before but you have an interesting take on it. I could totally see your point of view and appreciate that you recognize your ability to engage your audience authentically. 🙂 http://www.flashesofdelight.com

    Posted 1.18.17
  8. debbie_savage wrote:

    What an interesting post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I do love your work!
    xo Debbie | http://www.tothineownstylebetrue.com

    Posted 1.18.17
  9. I definitely agree with this! I was in a comment pod for a short period last summer and it was SO time consuming, plus like you said I felt like I was being forced to comment on things that I normally wouldn’t. I’m all about organic growth! 🙂

    Posted 1.18.17
  10. Neelofar wrote:

    This was super interesting to read. Thanks for your insight!
    Neelofar
    http://www.theloveliestlily.com

    Posted 1.18.17
  11. This was actually quite interesting to read! I do agree that it is incredibly time consuming and inauthentic. I might quite a few and see how it goes.

    La Belle Sirene

    Posted 1.18.17
  12. I’ve heard about comment pods, but never try it. I think I’ll skip it after reading your post. Seems like a waste of time! 🙂 Thanks for the heads up!

    Posted 1.18.17
  13. Tomi Obebe wrote:

    Ugh. I’m so torn! I’m in 6 right now so I know it can be time consuming. But with that number it also helps drive new people in and help with engagement. I might try it in a couple of months ceasing all of them just to see what happens. Thanks for the insight!

    xx, Tomi
    http://goodtomicha.com

    Posted 1.18.17
  14. Leah Hall wrote:

    I am in 2, one is really spot on and on top of it, and the other isn’t. I am torn. They have really helped me grow and gain followers, so I will probably stick with the good one for a while longer, and let the other go. I need to do more and experiment myself before I let go of both. This is great food for thought!

    Posted 1.18.17
  15. Meileilan wrote:

    This is very intersting. I keep hearing instagram pods and always been curious. Thank you for head up. You made a lot of
    Good points.

    Posted 1.18.17
  16. Mom Noms wrote:

    To add to what you’re saying, I have a lot of other things to do for the blog and it was way too much time when I could do other things. I am so glad that I am out of it now!

    Posted 1.19.17
  17. Jenny wrote:

    I’ve left quite a few of my comment pods but am still attached to a few haha. You’re right though – I do have less time to engage on random people’s posts which sucks.

    Posted 1.19.17
  18. Chelsea wrote:

    I’ve never joined a comment pod because I feel like they look so obviously set up and inorganic when you see the same 15 people commenting generic things on eachothers photos. I definitely agree with getting the best results from genuine engagement!

    Posted 1.19.17
  19. Love this! I totally agree it’s a massive time commitment and the results aren’t worth it. I’ve noticed if I engage organically with other bloggers who “get it” they organically engage back without all the forced hoopla!

    Rachel | The Confused Millennial

    Posted 1.19.17
  20. Did you delete any of the comments? I sometimes participate in a blog comment pod and it drives me nuts when the comments don’t make any sense for what I’ve written! But I don’t necessarily want to delete them & offend the OP (or get them in trouble with the pod moderator!)… What do you think? 🙂

    Posted 1.19.17
    • Agreed… of they’re too lazy to use punctuation! Drives me nuts.

      Posted 1.19.17
  21. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with these guys for awhile, mostly hate though. They only really work if everyone in the group is ALWAYS on their phone and ready to engage as soon as you send it. Otherwise people are commenting hours later, and that kind of defeats the purpose.

    Posted 1.19.17
  22. Melissa Dow wrote:

    I’ve been debating on whether to join any pods. I’d rather build my own community, so I’ve been hesitant.

    Posted 1.19.17
  23. I totally agree with this post! I also left most of my pods because half the people never even bothered reciprocating or did so days later, and it was super irritating!

    Posted 1.19.17
  24. Chelsea wrote:

    I appreciate your honesty. It can go either way, but you are right. You need have good content. That is the job of a blogger!

    Chelsea – http://www.binkiesandbaubles.com

    Posted 1.20.17
  25. Natasha wrote:

    Hi Alicia Tenise. I’m so glad you’re finding what suits you. I stopped the commenting on blogs FB threads a long time ago because it isn’t effective long-term. I can’t imagine being a part of an Instagram pod. So glad I read this to confirm my thoughts. Continued success to you!

    Posted 1.23.17
  26. Thanks for sharing! I considered joining comment pods but it just seems so inauthentic. I prefer to try and grow more organically, even if it’s slower.

    Posted 1.23.17
  27. smoorelovin wrote:

    I love this. I’m currently on the verge of leaving mine. It’s tough because I want to support everyone but I’m not seeing that sentiment in return! That said, my ‘niche’ is pretty unusual and polarizing. So the content certainly isn’t for everyone.

    Posted 1.23.17
  28. Tammy Triolo wrote:

    This is why I have stopped engaging in FB that require you to leave a comment.

    Posted 1.23.17
  29. April Serio wrote:

    This is great.It’s always good to have an organic engagement instead of a forced one.

    Posted 1.24.17
  30. Jennifer Henderson wrote:

    I don’t have a big enough following to be asked to join a comment pod, but I saw the activity on some people I follow and woneed what the heck was going on. Thanks for filling in the blanks!

    Posted 1.25.17
  31. I recently started a small pod with girls only in my niche, and while I sometimes don’t always want to comment something, I have found so far my likes are increasing. But I’m picky about who I group up with, because I want to engage with people I would genuinely engage with anyways

    Posted 1.25.17
  32. Caitlin wrote:

    This was an interesting read and I definitely get where you’re coming from!

    Caitlin, Beauty & Colour

    Posted 2.2.17
  33. Phoebe • Honestly, Though wrote:

    Okay, I literally resonate with this so much! I’m in a pod right now, but I’m feeling the same way about the forced comments!

    Thanks for opening up!

    xx honestly, though

    Posted 2.5.17
  34. Pedro MA wrote:

    If really brands knew…I am even starting to feel sorry for them. Personally is not that I dont like them, is just that I hate them.

    I hate them because is fake, is exactly the same as if you buy followers or likes.

    The problem I see is that brands and partners have not found out yet, so they still invest in this accounts but once they do, their trust on instagrammers whether they do pods or not will collapse.

    And this will go against all of us

    Posted 2.24.17
  35. Emma (SitS) wrote:

    Couldn’t agree more! I’m also in pods and thinking of leaving. I hate how it skews my feed and stops me interacting naturally with the people’s pictures I’m drawn to most.

    Posted 3.13.17
  36. Meredith Gibney wrote:

    I am in a pod, but I didn’t realize this was being done to drive sales and things of that nature! We don’t force anything, but since we are all likeminded we are building a following of community! We just want moms to see our natural parenting as “normal” so that our end goal. To create community.

    Posted 3.19.17
    • I’m not a mom blogger and I never said anything here about driving sales, but here’s the issue with pods: I get that you want to support folks. But if you never have a post that tanks in the comments section, you’re not going to improve as a blogger.

      If people aren’t wanting to comment/engage on a particular photo, I need that photo to fail so I can avoid posting that content in the future. If you want to be successful as an influencer, you need to learn how to organically engage your audience instead of using comment pods as a crutch.

      Posted 3.19.17
      • CHALK Academy wrote:

        I’m glad I just googled this and found your post. Was just wondering if I should join one, but I really appreciate you encouraging us to keep it real. You are so right – we need to know which photos are genuinely engaging or not engaging and learn from this!

        Posted 2.5.18
  37. Hillary wrote:

    You go girl! I agree 100% with everything you’ve stated! I dropped out of all of my comment groups for the reasons you stated above and am considering leaving my likes groups as well. I just know that my time is better spent on something else and I feel better knowing that the likes and comments that I leave on people’s photos are genuine because I want to support those people!

    ~Hillary
    http://www.styleinasmalltown.com

    Posted 3.23.17
  38. Rae wrote:

    I really liked this. I’ve definitely been feeling this way. Pods have been an amazing way for me to connect with other bloggers and Instagrammers but I feel like once the initial networking wears off it just stagnates. I am really grateful for the friendships I’ve made from those pods but I have a feeling it’t time to move on.

    Posted 3.27.17
  39. Nicole wrote:

    I totally agree with you on this! I did the same thing and although my engagement has gone down (it was going down even while participating in the comment pods) I realized I would so much rather have genuine comments from followers than forced ones. I think at first they really did help me grow but now they almost backfired because I realized so much of my engagement was fake because of these pods so now I’m back at square one, so frustrating but its my own fault. It also just took too much time and I started to feel uncomfortable having to force comments myself it I didn’t sincerely like the person’s photo!

    Posted 4.7.17
  40. Sea + Terra wrote:

    I totally agree. I want to keep my blog authentic and follow/unfollow, comment pods, etc. just seem like a waste of time. I would much prefer to actually connect with other bloggers. thanks for this post!

    Posted 4.15.17
  41. Cathedrals & Cafes wrote:

    Thank you for sharing your experience! I have been doing a lot of reading about pods and I don’t think they are for me either. I really enjoy discovering other bloggers and Instagram accounts like you do – pick a hashtag and honestly like and comment on things that are beautiful/interesting, etc. I totally understand the theory behind the practice of pods. It’s nice to have a community of support. But I feel like I’ve already developed a small group of other bloggers through natural, authentic engagement. And I don’t think I would spend time on anyone other than those in my pod, as it seems pod engagement would take up a lot of time.

    Posted 5.10.17
  42. I’m at that point too. I’m not really seeing a jump in genuine comments or likes from pods. For me, it’s way too time consuming. I find that I’m getting a lot more engagement & follows when I do my research on proper hashtags per photo and write a good call to action or engaging question. Sometimes I just write an interesting quote to go along with my pic and people seem to like it.

    Posted 5.12.17
  43. This was an interesting read and I definitely get where you’re coming from!
    http://www.cityloftslondon.com

    Posted 7.25.17
  44. I think you were in the wrong ones. I’m in 3 and two of them have over 100 members. The engagement I’ve gotten is awesome and the moderators make sure the comments make sense. Love them! I even blogged about them!
    Mollythegypsy.com

    Posted 8.5.17
    • I just personally disagree with the practice in general. I think it’s our job as influencers to drive organic engagement and create content that will make people want to comment, not relying on comment pods to get comments!

      Posted 8.5.17
      • Andy Tu wrote:

        I’m not saying anyone is wrong, but the problem with that is you have to be able to reach people to have them comment. The reason I think these pods were created was so that the high engagement rates would help get your account visible to people by helping it reach the top post. For awhile now, some of our accounts can only be seen by pre-existing followers which makes it hard to engage period. I guess it might be only good for smaller accounts.

        But i really do agree with your blog on why PODS suck. I’m in the same boat right now and its hard to distinguish who the “real” comments are, but hey we win some we lose some.

        Posted 9.20.17
  45. Stacey MacGillivray wrote:

    I TOTALLY agree with you on this!! I’m more in “support groups” on like Facebook and I just think it makes blogging feel like such a chore when you ant read content without having to comment on everyone’s post and if you miss a few days you get called out!

    I absolute get where you’re coming from! Xx

    Posted 8.15.17
  46. Andreza Owens wrote:

    I totally agree! I’m actually about to leave one that I’m a part of. It’s a little overwhelming and I’m spending a lot of time commenting on the same people over and over again. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted 10.5.17
  47. Alka Singh wrote:

    This is so true. I was a part of a few pods which I left some months back precisely for the same reason as pointed out by you. The reach of posts through these pods was only restricting to the number of people in the pod and more importantly, such pods were also becoming platforms for arguments.

    Posted 12.20.17
  48. Jenny wrote:

    So happy to see I am not crazy…was never part of one and seemed stupid to my self because of it…but on the other hand every time I wanted to apply or applied for one(and than gave up before even getting an answer) I felt sick,discouraged…are we really so less creative we have to oblige people to like us?great post!

    Posted 12.28.17
  49. Angela wrote:

    I love this post so much! I’ve started an instagram blog recently and was invited to one of these pods. I truly couldn’t agree more.

    Posted 1.31.18
  50. April Lynne wrote:

    I’m so glad you posted this. I am relatively new to the blogging world and something like this looks attractive to a new blogger. But it always felt sort of fake and forced. Thank you for the wise words.

    Posted 2.5.18
  51. Tiffany Downing wrote:

    This is great! I had been having mixed feeling about this … being new to blogging and needing traffic I felt stuck. Reading that it’s actually hurting me more than anything I’m done! Love your point of view. Thank you!

    Posted 2.5.18

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