The pros and cons of Instagram pods

In case you missed it, there has recently been yet more Twitter drama, this time relating to Instagram.  In a nut shell, there have been stirrings for ages about people buying followers, playing follow/unfollow and using bots to falsely grow their accounts.  For some reason, this all came to a head about a week ago and a few people on Twitter decided it was time to name and shame.

I have to admit, I really wasn’t impressed with how the whole thing went down.  While, in principle, I have no issue with calling someone out when they’re in the wrong, this whole debacle turned into a bit of a witch hunt.  The methods that people were using to decide who was guilty of falsifying their following weren’t always scientific or logical, but based on instinct or hunches.  This led to people claiming they had been falsely accused and it all get very messy, very quickly.

Now, whoever is in the right, one thing that cannot be denied is that people are getting increasingly fed up with Instagram and its infamous algorithm.  Users are being forced to find more and more sneaky, roundabout ways of boosting their influence, as Instagram itself is certainly doing nothing to help.

While most people are agreed that buying followers and using bots is underhanded and fake, a few grey areas have been thrown into the mix, such as offering like-backs and joining Instagram pods.  It didn’t take long before people started attacking these, saying they were just another form of falsifying engagement and were just as bad as using bots.

For those of you who don’t know, an Instagram pad is a private group chat, with up to 16 bloggers.  Every pod has its own rules, but basically you can share your photos with the pod and they will all like and comment on each photo.  In return, you like and comment every photo that other bloggers share.

If it all goes to plan, you should be guaranteed at least 15 likes and comments on each photo.  This, in turn, should help boost your status in the Instagram algorithm and ensure you appear in more feeds, therefore further boosting engagement.  It’s a wonderful theory.  But does it work?  And is it dishonest?

While I have never bought followers (who the hell can afford that nonsense?) or used a bot (I’ve seen iRobot – I’m never trusting an AI to work for me), I have been a member of three Instagram pods, although I have since left one of them.

The first I ever joined was organised through Thirty Plus Blogs and features a range of beauty, lifestyle and food bloggers who I’ve never met.  The second is a smaller group of East Midlands bloggers who I met at an event back in March.  We all got chatting and decided to start a pod to help support each other and keep track of all of our Instagram accounts.

I have definitely noticed an increase in engagement, but for someone who on average got 20-30 likes and maybe 2 comments that really wasn’t going to be difficult.  I do occasionally feel dejected at the idea that they aren’t genuine.  These people don’t leave comments because they were inspired to do so by the content, but because we have an informal contract that they will do so.

Likewise, I worry that I’m being fake, leaving comments that I might not have done otherwise.  I do try hard to make sure my comments are relevant, not just “Great photo!”, but it can be hard to find new and original ways to say ” That’s a really pretty lipstick that I will never, EVER be buying”.   It does sometimes feel a little false.

A while ago, when researching how to boost social media, I found checklist after checklist of things you should do to increase engagement on Instagram.  Post twice a day, like at least 20 photos, comment on ten, follow five new accounts.  When you think about it, that’s pretty contrived and false in itself, but I bet lots of people do it.  It’s a strategy and in the current climate, people do what works for them.

For me, the real difference between bots and pods is the amount of work involved.  Where a bot will do all the leg work for you, keeping with a pod take a lot of time and hard work.  If everyone in my pod posts two a day, that’s about 35 photos a day.  So for me to leave a genuine, thoughtful comment on each one takes some considerable time and effort.  This is not just a quick fix to get more followers.  It’s a commitment to support other bloggers and in return, they’ll support me too.

One definite downside of this is that I do spend so long commenting on my pods, that I almost never remember to scroll through my main feed to comment on other pictures.  Having said that, most of the time my feed is full of the same old sponsored posts from three days ago, so I don’t feel I’m always missing much.  I tend to turn notifications on for all of my favourite accounts, so I don’t miss the posts I really want to see.

As with any group effort, there will always be people who are trying to get an easy ride and don’t play fair.  There’s always that one person who posts three times a day and hardly ever comments back.  However, these cases are rare and they tend to become unpopular very soon.  I left the only pod where I didn’t feel everyone was playing by the rules.

Now, I’m just left with two pods full of lovely ladies who I’m getting to know pretty well and even if someone eventually leaves the group we all keep track of each other’s accounts.  I’d really love to meet up with my pods one day, as inbetween the photos we have some great chats.

As with many things, there are certainly pros and cons to using Instagram pods.  Yes, they can sometimes feel forced and they take up a lot of time.  On the flip side, they’re a great way to connect with new bloggers and I feel like I’ve found some lovely accounts I might not have otherwise.  I definitely don’t see them as cheating.

If you don’t like them, don’t use them, but I certainly intend to stick with mine for some time yet.




  1. Lucy says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post! It’s something I have thought about, and if I’m honest I’ve never thought of pods as false as I honestly enjoy reading/seeing the content from my now favourite bloggers. I may not have found them otherwise. I feel like I have a little family. Xxxxxxx

  2. Abbeylouisarose says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here Lucy! As you know, I’m a member of a blog post comment pod on Twitter which I find absolutely fantastic, all of the engagement that I get from it seems so genuine as each of the lovely ladies in the pod really seems to read and get behind the message of my content! As for Instagram, I just don’t have the energy to post regularly enough and engage enough to really build my following there, I don’t really use it for my blog much, it’s mainly just for pretty colourful pictures that I personally enjoy! I get so much more engagement on twitter, so that platform means a lot more to me!

    Abbey ❤

  3. Abbeylouisarose says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here Lucy! As you know, I’m a member of a blog post comment pod on Twitter which I find absolutely fantastic, all of the engagement that I get from it seems so genuine as each of the lovely ladies in the pod really seems to read and get behind the message of my content! As for Instagram, I just don’t have the energy to post regularly enough and engage enough to really build my following there, I don’t really use it for my blog much, it’s mainly just for pretty colourful pictures that I personally enjoy! I get so much more engagement on twitter, so that platform means a lot more to me! Fab post, really enjoyed reading!

    Abbey ❤
    Abbeylouisarose recently posted…Grant My Birthday Wish?My Profile

  4. Izzy Marie Hill says:

    I do understand where you’re coming from. I think with comment pods it entirely depends on the people in your pod and how much effort you all put in! I’ve left an instagram comment pod fairly recently because the comments weren’t meaningful and would never engage with my captions. BUT on the other hand I love the current blog comment pod I’m in cause all the girls are so lovely and thoughtful!

    Great post, love Izzy |
    Izzy Marie Hill recently posted…Killin It Cosmetics | Epic Nights Palette Review & SwatchesMy Profile

  5. Amy says:

    I’ve been in two minds about Instagram pods recently – I’ve left a couple, but do have a couple that I really like and feel like it’s genuine engagement rather than for the sake of it – I do find that I just don’t relate to beauty accounts for the exact reason you said but I think pods are fine as long as the engagement remains genuine – if that even makes sense haha!
    Amy xx

    • Stacey says:

      That makes perfect sense. Like so many things, I think pods are what you make them. If you use them to make friends and genuinely engage they can be really rewarding.

  6. Kayleigh Zara says:

    I don’t really touch Instagram at all these days I’ve completely fallen out of love with it! I think that Instagram pods will always be popular and people will always have varying opinions on them but I definetely wouldn’t say they were fake engagement x

    Kayleigh Zara

  7. An Historian says:

    I don’t have time to properly be in a pod, but I would not say that it’s “fake” engagement! From what I do know, it takes quite a bit of work to be in a pod- unlike buying followers. I still find it entirely dishonest when someone jumps from 700 to 2500 followers in a week but that only seems to happen with bots, not with pods. My only question is, how do you meet a pod? Happy podding away ☺

  8. Diana Frajman says:

    Wow, social media is getting really complicated. For some reason that movie, “Mean Girls” comes to mind. The things we do to become popular on the web. Thanks for sharing this.

  9. Choclette says:

    Where have I been hiding? I’ve missed out on all the furore on Twitter. Buying followers, following/unfollowing etc etc is definitely not on, but I do like my IG pods. As you say, you get to know a few people quite well and that’s fun as well as beneficial.

  10. Em Linthorpe says:

    I only do one pod myself, I have the same issue as I have no personal interest in make-up and there’s a few beauty bloggers in the pod! However, I do try and leave genuine comments, often the creativity and the photography is pretty good so I’ll focus more on that! I do enjoy the pod though, I couldn’t manage more than one however!

  11. Nicole says:

    This is a great topic right now since everyone is up in arms about the algorithm change! I don’t actually have an instagram for my blog (still working on my pictures!) but I think pods are great if you’re just going to comment directly on the blogs. I’ve heard that having more comments actually boosts your visibility, so in that case, the “fake” engagement gives you a better chance of “real” engagement which is beneficial for everyone.


  12. Rachael | Helpless Whilst Drying says:

    I love Instagram Pods as long as I like whose in them! I like the one I’m in with you now as I’m with people I genuinely like, it’s like turning on notifications really for those people!
    I’ve been in two others in the past and decided to step out of them, I got fed up of people not posting genuine captions, if at all. and there were only 2 or 3 people in the group who played by the rules.
    I don’t mind supporting people if it’s mutual, whether that’s seen as fake or not I don’t care – but I like genuinely writing a comment that seems to match, so getting a generic ‘Ooh, this looks good’ got too frustrating for me.
    I agree though it can be hard to think of something to comment on all the time, especially when you’re meant to be supporting and you might not agree with someones caption or like someones photo!

  13. Sophie says:

    I agree with you it can seem a little forced if not everyone is into the exact same things but it is supporting other bloggers and having them support you and for me they are all accounts i’d follow anyway so it isn’t too forced for me! xxx

  14. Lauren says:

    I definitely agree with this post! I’ve been in a few insta pods over the past year, but now I’ve left all but one. One of the ones I was in I was getting pretty much zero engagement from despite me commenting on at least 20 images a day. Another, I found that a lot of the people in it had accounts that I just wasn’t interested in, so I found it difficult to leave genuine comments. But what made it worse was that the majority of the people in the pod where leaving me extremely ungenuine comments back. One person in particular generally just left a random emoji, with something like ‘nice’,
    Now I’m just in one comment pod that consists of 6 people, all of whom have accounts that I love to follow anyway. Sure if I wasn’t in the pod I probably wouldn’t be commented on every image of theirs, but I would probably be liking every one, and commenting on as many of them as I could.

    Lauren | Lauren the Daydreamer

  15. Steph // Steph's World says:

    I am a member of a few comment pods and love the interaction we have on there. I feel as a group we have bonded and the comments are truly genuine (from me at least anyway). I left one pod though as I thought it was very forced/fake and I didn’t want to be stuck in something I didn’t feel was natural (if you know what I mean).

    Great post and I completely agree with you.

    Steph xx

    Steph’s World | Lifestyle Blog |

  16. Maira says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post, it was such an interesting read! I don’t see anything wrong with pods personally, although I can understand why some people may perceive this kind of engagement as ‘fake’. As part of a blog commenting pod on Twitter, I got to know more people in the blogging community. It’s not so much of a factory-style comment after comment, but everyone is genuinely interested and we have built a type of friendship with each other as well.

  17. Sian says:

    I definitely think there will always be an issue with pods on any social media. I was part of an Instagram one and it only lasted a couple of weeks because everyone kept forgetting to share their latest posts in the group. Luckily I’m friends with them all and we liked each other’s photos most of the time anyway.

    There is always an issue that certain members don’t pull their weight but nobody’s perfect I guess! I’m not a fan of everyone fighting online about it. It’s not like it’s going to change most people anyway!

    Sian x

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