I’ve been promising this post for weeks now so I’m finally writing it up and posting it. I’m going to try to not make it too lengthy, so here goes!
As you can tell from the title of this post, I used to belong to a few engagement groups or pods. If you are unfamiliar with what those are let me give a brief explanation. Engagement pods are groups (some with a few dozen people to ones with hundreds of people) that usually have similar interests on social media such as posting primarily lifestyle or fashion or travel etc. Since Instagram changed (and continues to mess with) the algorithm, a lot of users found it increasingly difficult to reach new people and get their content seen. Here is where engagement pods gained popularity. If you joined the group, you would drop the link(s) to your posts and theoretically all the people in the group would show your photo some love in the form of likes and/or comments. And then, of course, theoretically you reciprocate. The belief is that the more engagement you get on a post, the more people see it, because part of the algorithm is that your post becomes more visible the more people interact with it. It’s backwards, I know.
Anyway, engagement pods were all the rage for months, even years. I belonged to a few over the past 1-2 years. There were good parts and bad parts to them and despite my frustrations with them over the years I stayed in some of them just because I felt like I needed that built in engagement with my posts.
But then, I started to get frustrated more and more often with them. That coupled with the things I’d been hearing about them actually hurting your visibility on Instagram made me finally quit them all cold turkey.
So what made me finally leave them all?
I was tired of following all the rules for each group – each group with their different rules by the way – and stressing out about when I could post, when I was allowed to drop a link, making sure I like the gazillion posts that went before mine in the group before I was allowed to drop my link, people not reciprocating, etc. It was a lot and honestly, I was just tired.
Typically, you have to catch up with liking and/or commenting on posts in your group before you are allowed to share your post. Some groups are lenient and say to catch up 24 hours worth of posts before you post. If you make a mistake, just fix it and it’s fine – your warning is removed. Others are super strict and if you make a mistake you get a warning that will not be taken away and after 3 warnings, you’re kicked out. But people make mistakes all the time! If I have 80 posts to catch up on and I miss 1 and immediately correct it, I’m given a warning that will not be removed. It just seems ridiculous and unnecessarily strict. I mean, it’s Instagram, people!
Then, there are the rules. Like I said most groups just say to catch up on the posts before yours. Leave a checkmark or “Done” then leave your link with the date and number. For example, if your group allows you to share 2 photos a day you would write the date and a 1 or 2 next to the link so people know whether it’s your first or second share of the day. I’ve seen group admins give people warnings for not labeling their posts correctly! And it’s so hard to keep track of. I had one group that said you could combine all your posts in 1 message – so share both your posts for the day in 1 message. Another group forbade that and you had to separate everything. I saw one girl get yelled at because the group rules said you could share 2 photos per 24 hours. She posted something late one night and then again after midnight, her time. She felt it was fine because technically it was the next day for her, but the admins said it wasn’t the proper 24 hours. It is so dumb and honestly, why does it matter?! Then some groups are likes only, some are likes and comments, some comment groups have rules about how many words you have leave in your comment. It is just too much.
So I just felt done with them. Has my Instagram taken a hit? Absolutely. I won’t lie, the first few days I was questioning whether I made a mistake because I was used to getting easily over 100 likes on my photos and now it’s like 25. But I had mentally prepared myself for this. I knew that once I left the groups, it would take some time for my Instagram to “reset” as I like to call it. One of the things I had heard that was bad about engagement pods was that yes, you are getting more engagement on your posts so that more people can see your posts, however, the problem is that if it’s a lot of the same people liking your photos then it’s always going to be the same people who see your posts and never new people. Meaning, it severely cuts down on new people discovering your posts and page.
As I said, the first few days when my Instagram first was feeling the pain of my decision to leave the groups were a little brutal. But, I’m happier now by far. I don’t stress about what time to post or catching up on 150 people’s posts before I can share mine. I don’t stress about being warned for missing 1 person’s posts. I post when I want to and what I want to.
Ultimately, I started my blog Instagram as a way to promote my blog. My main focus is my blog and you know what? My viewership on here has increased and my opportunities haven’t slowed down since my decision so I’d say I’m doing even better than before!
If you’re still in an engagement pod, more power to you. It’s a lot of work and eats up your time. For me personally, I’m much more at ease now and I feel confident that over time my Instagram engagement will build itself back up on its own.