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How to grow your Engagement with an Instagram Comment Pod

Sylvia Wong

Director of Digital Marketing


Mar. 29, 2018

Is your social media engagement low? Do you ever find yourself wondering how you can get more comments on your posts? With the Instagram Algorithm not working in Instagrammers’ favour lately, many users are taking matters into their own hands. One popular method for increasing your engagement is creating an Instagram Comment Pod. After creating a few successful ones and being in a few that sucked, here are my tips for getting a pod that works and feels authentic.

What’s an Instagram Comment Pod?

An Instagram Comment Pod is simply a private message group created to drive engagement for everyone involved. Using the Direct Messaging function, everyone in the group has a shared goal of helping each other by committing to comment on each others posts. Whenever someone in the pod publishes a new post, they can share in the group chat. Everyone in the pod is then asked to go to the post, like and leave a genuine comment.

The idea is that the comments from the pod encourage other users to join in, but that it also shows the algorithm that the post is receiving a lot of early engagement, perhaps increasing the chances of it being a popular post.

How do I Start an Instagram Comment Pod?

So a pod’s gotta start from somewhere. There are some groups on facebook where you can find people interested in making pods, but for me, I like to start and manage them myself from people I follow on Instagram. It makes for a more curated and focused group instead of a random grouping of people.

If you’re going to start one up yourself, choose your members carefully. Keep these things in mind:

  • Professions – If you’re in a specific niche, it’s sometimes nice to create a peer group. Sure, they may be your competitors but keep your enemies closer, right? No one knows your business the same way that other professionals in the industry do, so they’ll be able to comment with meaningful interactions on your work. It also creates a safe space to talk industry trends and ideas as an aside to all the pod action.
  • Post Frequency – Before inviting someone to join your pod, give their Instagram account a quick audit. Check their post frequency to see if they’re in the same range of posts that you want to be sharing. Do they share once per week, once per day or multiple times a day? 4-5 times per week is ideal for frequency to keep up with.
  • Personalities – Check out the aesthetic style and captions. Does the person write lengthy and thoughtful captions? It’s important to note that if peoples captions are usually very short, just quotes of songs or emojis, there’s very little caption to work with when you’re obliged to comment on it.
  • Locations – This may be important to consider if your brand has a geographical location. If you have a brick and mortar space, maybe start by creating a pod of all the businesses down the same strip or neighbourhood as you.
  • Timezones – If you’re an ecommerce brand, it’s probably fine to choose people in your pod who are located worldwide. The only con to this is that the differing timezones may make it hard for everyone to be active at the same times.

Start by messaging each person individually asking if they’d like to join an Instagram Comment Pod to increase their engagement rate. Often, you’ll have to explain what a pod is to each person before they say yes. And once they do, start up a group chat, name it, and start with explaining ALL the rules.

What are the Rules for an Instagram Comment Pod?

If you’re starting the Instagram Comment Pod, set the tone as the leader by laying down all the rules up front. Building a community is key and fairness is a big part of that. Make sure that everyone is keeping up their end of the bargain. Here are the base instructions you should always start with:

  1. Ask everyone in the pod to click on the “i” icon at the top right and follow all other members
  2. When someone has a new post up, they must go to the message group and post ” “. Some people use the “send post” function but there are rumours that instagram’s algorithm understands that a post has been sent and may not count engagement the same way. Better to be safe with the ” “.
  3. When a  ” ” notification comes in from the pod, everyone must go like and comment on that post RIGHT AWAY. (this is why time zones matter).
  4. Comments should be at least 5 words, not emoji comments. You want to create authentic engagement, so this is why good captioning matters too.
  5. Users may leave if the process is too overwhelming or not their style. Just click on the “i” icon and “leave conversation” at the bottom of the member list. No one will see when people leave; there’s no notification.
  6. The pod will “close” after 3 weeks because the effectiveness begins to decline and people start to get tired of the process. It doesn’t need to shut down if everyone is getting along great and have become friends. The rules are just over and no one is obliged to comment any more.

Direct Messages have a character limit of 500 characters, so you’ll have to break up the above rules and intro into many individual messages.

Isn’t it a Comment Pod lot of work?

Um DUH, look at how much I’ve already written about the process to just get one started. Of course it’s a lot of work, especially if you’re the leader/admin of the Comment Pod. But you’ve gotta give to get and a Pod can be really worth it for the relationships you can build from it and the boost in engagement as a bonus.

Since I’ve done this a few times before, here are some additional rules you may want to consider to make things easier for you:

  • Member limits – An Instagram Direct Message group chat can have up to 15 members in it. If you want to really maximize your pod for the most amount of comments, pack them in! My advice though is that 10 is a sweet spot where everyone can know each member a bit better and it’s not too busy of a chat.
  • Post limits – If everyone is generally posting a few times a week, it may not be necessary to enforce limits but generally a maximum of one ? post in the pod per day prevents too many notifications. Add this to the intro rules.
  • Response times – If someone falls behind on posts, does everyone expect them to catch up? If they are a repeat offender, will you ask them to leave?
  • Introductions – Want everyone to feel like they’re authentically helping each other grow instead of being human bots on some weird comment farming system? Ask everyone to share introductions or quirky facts about themselves. Knowing each other even helps with topics for captions and comments!

Is an Instagram Comment Pod worth it?

It’s definitely worth a try if you’re starting to feel like you’re not getting any traction on Instagram or generally not feeling any sense of community. Getting a bit of a platform where you can vent or talk about social media marketing with peers is so valuable.

I’ve had some Instagram comment pods that were completely value-less and there was no conversation outside of pod activity. On the other hand, I’ve also had some where I’ve made lifelong friends. We still exist as a mastermind group where we can talk about industry topics and give each other client referrals. Shout out to my favourite pod! It’s all what you make of it.

And just when you think that sneaky algorithm is gonna catch onto your secret Comment Pod? You disband.

Have you heard of Pods before? Will you give a Pod a try? Or do you have any stories about Pods you’ve been part of before? Sound off in the comments! I want to hear all about it.

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