Thriving On Instagram

The negative impact engagement groups may have on your IG profile

April 2, 2019


The negative impact engagement groups may have on your IG profile

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Some people want to be famous and known in today’s world. A few are lucky to become megastars while others become social media celebrities. Instagram celebrities and influencers have hundreds and thousands of likes and fans behind their fame. However, it is not easy to become an IG celebrity.

Users have to constantly get likes, follows and shares in order to rise to the top. Some users opt for Instagram engagement pods where other engagement-hungry profiles try to cheat Instagram’s native algorithm to gain additional exposure and raise their ranks.

Instagram counts more than 1 billion users. Only in Belgium, there are thousands of influencers spread around Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels

What are Instagram pods and how do they work?

Engagement pods are What’sApp, Telegram, Facebook groups where users engage with each other to trick the algorithm. They ask each other to like, comment and share pieces of content. Here are how engagement pods work:

  • There is a “drop” time decided by the moderators or administrators, informing users when they can request for engagement and likes. One has to respect the “drop” time and only share content when allowed.
  • The engagement pods exist only to enhance your IG profile. An engagement pod is not a place to socialize or chat.
  • Avoid leeching. Your only purpose should be to reap the benefits of increased likes, engagement and shares. Do not try to like and comment back to other users. Just enjoy the benefits.
  • Give back to the community. If you want others to help you level up your profile, you are expected to do the same and scratch their back as well. “Quid pro quo” is the underlying motive of these pods. Engage with other users, give likes and comments, and share their content.

What are the cons of joining engagement pods?

However, there are mixed reviews about Instagram engagement pods. While a majority of people stand by their effectiveness and value, there are those who call these pods time-consuming, detrimental and not worth the efforts.

We will discuss three major reasons not to join the engagement pods. These reasons can negatively impact your IG profile and bring you down instead of raising you up. Below are the cons discussed in detail.

The ever-changing Instagram algorithm

Instagram constantly changes their algorithm and upgrades the application to avoid abuse. From their primitive algorithm of showing the posts in chronological order, Instagram has now taken a turn for the better. Instead of showing posts in an order, they have opted for an interactive and heuristics-based algorithm to show posts based on your previous behavior and data.

Instagram now observes users, understands their likes and dislikes, accumulates their behavior and shows them posts which it thinks will be appreciated. This creates a bubble filter around the user, where they only see related posts and rarely get to explore their news feed for new things.

Instagram engagement pods tried to help users bypass this algorithm by giving them more likes. The higher the number of likes, the higher the rate of your post being shown first. However, this is only theoretical. Instagram has recently revealed the actual working of their algorithm, which flies in the face of engagement pods and their practices.

There are three components behind Instagram algorithm: interest, timeliness and relationship. Both influencers and brands/businesses need to be aware of them when they collaborate for money or free products.

There are three factors that decide how and what is to be shown on a user’s news feed:

  • Interest: Instagram determines the likes and dislikes for individual users based on their past behavior. It shows similar and relevant content to users, and they are only shown what they are interested in. So, no matter how many likes a post gets, if the user isn’t interested in the genre, it will not be displayed on their news feed.
  • Recency: It determines the age of the post and infant or young posts are displayed before the old ones. It is all a game of posting engaging content in the first place to get more engagement and likes from the users.
  • Relationship: It determines the 1-to-1 relationship between the author and the viewer. If you have previously engaged with a user, it will show their content on the top. However, if a user has continuously ignored another user’s posts in the past, the post will not be displayed.

However, there are other micro elements which contribute towards the health of a post.

  • Frequency: If the users open their Instagram application after a while, it will show them the top and the best posts first and then move onto the generic algorithm generated posts. These best posts are usually called, “posts you’ve missed.”
  • Following: If you follow a lot of people, Instagram will be picking from a wider breadth of authors so you might see less of any specific person.
  • Usage: Depending on your browsing activities, time and usage behavior, it will either show you only top posts or a wider array of deep posts. If you are a surface browser, then you will only be shown the top posts. If you like to dig deep, you will be shown more posts.

These rules and factors go against everything that Instagram engagement pods work for. Instead of relying on likes and comments, Instagram favors a user’s relationship with the author and tries to show relevant posts to the users.

Major steps taken by the companies to avoid engagement pod users

In 2014, Belgian 17-year-old Axelle Despiegelaere became internet famous this week after photos of her in the stands at the World Cup had gone viral and led to a L’Oréal modeling contract. A Facebook fan page for Axelle has accumulated over 230,000 likes and upon her arrival back to Belgium, Axelle set up a Facebook page of her own that has over 19,000 fans.

She quickly gained a lot of followers on social media, and L’Oréal saw it as an opportunity to use Axelle as a brand ambassador for its product. She was hired by the brand, and she entered into a contractual agreement with the company.

However, one photo Axelle posted was unlike the rest — a picture of her holding a rifle, sitting behind what appears to be a dead Oryx she shot while hunting. The caption read: “Hunting is not a matter of life or death. It’s much more important than that. This was about 1 year ago…ready to hunt Americans today haha.

Fans were immediately outraged by the image, and L’Oréal was under fire after making the young Axelle an ambassador of its brand. She was later let go, and contract was announced to have been completed with the company. “L’Oréal collaborated with her on an ad hoc basis to produce a video for social media use in Belgium,” said a representative. “The contract has now been completed.”

As a result of those kind of incidents, brands have increasingly used techniques to audit their ambassadors, along several dimensions. One of the tools to audit the dimension “authenticity” is Hypeauditor. Hypeauditor thoroughly checks Instagram profiles and ensures that followers are actual fans instead of bots, and that likes and comments are not generated from Instagram engagement pods.

The official website for the “Hypeauditor” openly claims that “If you’re working on increasing social media presence for a brand and allocating part of your budget on influencer marketing, it’s extremely important that you’re not wasting your money on people whose engagement is incentivized artificially. There is no ROI in forced comments, there is no value in fake likes.

Facebook crackdown and blacklists

Last year, Facebook suspended 10 large groups that helped thousands of people falsify their engagement rates on Facebook-owned Instagram. The parent company has finally stepped into the arena and started taking conclusive steps against falsification of engagement ratio, likes, comments and subscribes.

According to Social Media Today, “These groups are the extreme end of the pods movement, some numbering in the hundreds of thousands of members, though the actions within them are separated into smaller, sub-groups (you couldn’t possibly have an active pod of thousands or you’d never be off Instagram).

Facebook and Instagram have shown extreme prejudice against such groups and have decided to take further action against such engagement pods in the near future. The algorithm will undergo another change to automatically determine the pods, eliminate them and blacklist the users.

The engagement pods and their users will be blacklisted, and you will lose everything you have worked for in the past.

Facebook is cracking down on abusive users with fake/unauthentic followers, fake/unauthentic likes, fake/unauthentic comments - authenticity is key to get the attract the best brands and the best collaborations

The bottom line

Instagram is the hub of millennials and energetic people who come together to share their lives with pictures.

However, if you wish to use an Instagram engagement pod to increase your likes and widen your fan base, you will soon regret making this decision. Instagram doesn’t entertain the amount of likes when showing the posts on news feeds. The algorithm is on a new path.

Furthermore, once the new algorithm hits the town, your profile might be highlighted, shadow-banned and blacklisted if you have been using an engagement pod to attract viewers.

We advise you to post engaging content to earn more likes. It might take time and effort on your part, but in the end it will be worth it. Your fans will be real, and soon all of your posts will be shown on the news feed.

Stop before you are blacklisted or shadow-banned

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One Comment
  1. […] quickly checking their followers but also the comments that are left on their posts. Beware some influencers are using engagement pods to boost their comment and likes. There are multiple tools that can be used to audit the influencer […]

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