4 reasons not to use Instagram engagement groups
Instagram engagement groups (or Instagram pods) are the dirty little secret behind some so-called ‘Influencers’.
In the Dubai blogosphere, there seems to be a problem with bloggers looking to fake engagement on Instagram.
- Perhaps it’s the enticement of freebies or collaborations?
- Perhaps PRs don’t have the tools, will or knowledge to research potential influencers?
- Perhaps bloggers just feel ‘its the done thing’, and everyone else is doing it?
Whatever the reason, the reality is this – that Instagram account that looks really popular and engaged is likely faking it.
Is it just me that thinks it’s ironic that a so-called Influencer contradicts their own argument? Who exactly are they influencing, if they need to fake their engagement?
So if you’re a blogger, micro-influencer or ‘content creator' (another ironic term BTW) and you’re even considering this lunacy, don’t. Here are 4 reasons not to use Instagram engagement groups.
You are kidding yourself if you use Instagram engagement groups
WARNING – Prepare yourself for some tough love….
There’s only one reason you’re using an Instagram pod – your content isn’t engaging enough on its own. You may know this fact – hence using the pod to artificially force engagement – or you may not.
Sadly, you’re just kidding yourself, with claims of “it’s for support’” or “I meet like-minded people” but that’s not the primary reason is it?
Hashtags and search will find like-minded people. DMs and other messaging will bring all the support you feel you may need.
Claiming use of an Instagram pod ‘for support' is like Americans saying they only want guns ‘for protection'*
*hat-tip to Jim Jefferies
Instagram engagement groups will harm your account
A few years ago, when blogging was in its infancy, bloggers formed private blog engagement groups also.
The aim was to share backlinks, based on the knowledge that Google prioritised site listings in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) by numbers of inbound links. Bloggers looking to increase traffic – especially monetised blogs – would thus swap reciprocal links in the hope of a better listing in Google.
What happened next?
Whilst this worked in the short term, Google eventually realised bloggers were gaming their algorithm. Google started looking at the quality of the links being shared, rather than the number. Google realised thousands of crappy scammy sites were swapping links with other crappy scammy sites, so it changed its algorithm – overnight.
In a click, all those crappy scammy sites lost their traffic. Not only that, but those crappy scammy sites were firmly on Google’s naughty step.
So the sites, needing their traffic fix, went to even more nefarious lengths to artificially boost traffic – and Google laughed. Then closed them down, for good.
The morale of the story
No matter how smart you think you may be when you’re trying to game the system, remember the system is smarter than you. Like in Las Vegas, the house ALWAYS wins.
If Instagram is smart enough to cull those bot accounts, fake followers, scammy commenters etc. is it not feasible it won’t take on engagement groups next?
Do you really think a few housewife bloggers engaging in shoddy tricks like Instagram engagement groups will ultimately beat Instagram? Or will Instagram, with a nod to its own advertising, community and brand commercialism, realise it needs to bring some integrity back to its community?
I know which horse my money is on. Let me know if you fancy backing the Instagram pods to win…..
People can see you’re faking it with Instagram engagement groups
This should be the most alarming reason not indulge in Instagram pods – humans can also tell if you’re faking it. The same commenters, almost instantly, with the bare minimum 3-5 words comments of inanities?
It’s highly likely someone’s already developed a bot to auto-rotate IG comments into Instagram engagement groups.
Think how it looks to a potential collaborator, or brand, or just an everyday follower if your account is propped up by the same people commenting on rotation?
Fake comments stand out worse than a botched cosmetic surgery; don't be infamous for the wrong reasons.
Instagram engagement groups make you look inauthentic and unoriginal
The signs of an account using an Instagram pod are usually obvious:-
- The same group of commenters on each post (usually around 15-20)
- The bare minimum words stated (usually 3 to 5)
- Hardly any emojis used in comments
- The poster usually responds to the others from the Instagram pod (thinking their response builds engagement counts)
- Often the number of comments is disproportionate to the number of likes (unless the poster has bought likes of course).
In a nutshell, being in Instagram engagement groups causes commenters to write ‘just enough' – and it shows. Look for comments that look like people are ‘dialling it in' and are one step above “great shot” or “wow”.
What message does anyone using Instagram engagement groups really send out though?
- “I don’t trust my own content enough”?
- “I need the crutch of an artificially-created amount of comments”?
- “I foolishly believe this will get me on the featured page”?
- “I’m too naive to see that if everyone else is doing this, it shows I’m unoriginal?
Don't be a sheep, when you could be the sheepdog or better still, the shepherd.
Why you can do much better than Instagram engagement groups
There is one underlying truth here; if you’re not getting good engagement without using Instagram pods, you need to improve your content.
- Perhaps your image isn’t resonating enough with your audience?
- Maybe your description of the subject isn’t interesting enough?
- People may not feel motivated to comment because your content is not enticing them to?
- Your audience may have elements of passengers, fakes or just readers – not engagers.
So, if you’re really true and honest with yourself, the answer is NOT to fake it by using Instagram pods.
The solution is to improve your content, excite your audience, improve your copy and create your own tribe.
Finally, start with Why. Why are you so bothered about engagement anyway? You may feel you need 1000s of followers, likes and comments, but the truth is anything but.
Think about it – all those accounts you envy are (likely) faking it too, and ultimately those followers don’t take action (other than liking/commenting). If you’re a business, do you need a commenter or a conversion/click?
You don’t need followers, you need a fan. Even just one, not hundreds or thousands.
As Kevin Kelly, one of the ‘smartest guys on the Internet’ says, you just need 1,000 True Fans.
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This is well thought out and I appreciate the insightful questions asked. I personally can not take any account that participates in an engagement group seriously — for many of the reasons you discuss. Keep your truth bombs coming!
Hey thank you kindly, dear lady. It means a lot to get lovely feedback, moreso from an esteemed soul such as yourself.
Whilst, of course, it’s ‘each to their own’, I find it heartbreaking that genuine, gifted individuals are succumbing to something they don’t need at all.
The true influencers, creators and ‘thought leaders’ are the ones that are bold enough to do their own thing and stay true to their fans. Even if it’s only to two dogs and bot.