Why Instagram Pods Might be Hurting Your Business

Jenna Kutcher 

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July 12, 2017



Today I’m talking all about Instagram Pods, what they are, why I don’t think they necessarily are the perfect solution for your algorithm woes and I’ll be sharing some of the things I’ve been working on instead in my own Instagram strategy for you.

A lot of people consider me an Instagram expert (did you see the Huffington Post just called me an Instagram genius? Hello business bucket list item checked off!) But truthfully, I have to giggle to myself when I hear this because I really am just an avid user of the app and a business and marketing minded person who is constantly trying new things and teach my findings to my students.

Let me start off by saying that I think it is so important that you do your due diligence whenever you are trying new strategies on any social media platform. I am a firm believer that slow growth is so important and a lot of people forget this because they start following someone when they are well on their journey growing their following. I have been growing my Instagram account for 6 years and I’ve poured myself into this app and I have tried just about everything.  The truth is, over the last 4,000 posts I have learned so much along the way.

When people start to look at Instagram as a game it takes the fun out of it and becomes work. I choose to use and teach Instagram as an app that has an amazing opportunity to connect with people and convert followers into clients. I don’t look at Instagram as just a highlight reel or only showcasing the best images and events in my life. I truly look at it as a place to connect, share my message and story and revisit this legacy that I’m working on everyday. I think this sounds a lot more fun than trying to trick the algorithm to increase my engagement through an Instagram pod.

What’s this algorithm that everyone’s been complaining about?

The algorithm tracks Instagram users interactions on the app so that it can show you the most valuable content that you’re interested in. So, if you interact with my account regularly, it’s likely that my posts are going to be top of your feed. Even if my posts are really popular with other users, if you haven’t interacted with my account regularly, it’s less likely to show up as your scrolling through Instagram.

What is an Instagram pod?

An Instagram pod is typically a group of 10-20 accounts that have similar businesses and interests. These accounts then join together and promote one another’s posts by committing to liking one another’s content by leaving comments when each others posts go live. This strategy attempts to beat the algorithm by proving to Instagram that their content is high quality and worth showing in their followers feeds.

Beware of the comparison game

Here’s the issue I have with this: If you think about it, you’re teaming up with people who have similar businesses and you are liking each others content. This is telling the app that you like engaging with your peers content and therefore will show you more accounts like them. This doesn’t get you in front of your clients accounts, it gets you in front of your peers which isn’t our goal.  I might come at this from an unpopular approach, but I believe if you are constantly engaging with your peers, what is that going to do? Speaking from my own experience, it’s going to make an impact on you and affect your confidence, vibes, the content your sharing, the way you’re feeling about your work and life. We’ve heard the quote “Comparison is the thief of joy” and I believe Instagram pods will have an adverse affect on your mental game.

The second reason I’m not a fan of Instagram pods is that when you are used to engaging with other peoples accounts it can impact how you are speaking on the platform. So instead of asking what your followers are looking for and how you can speak directly to them and focus on serving your audience, you begin to worry about what your peers are going to think when they see your posts. So you’re no longer speaking to your dream clients and are speaking to your competition instead.

Stop and ask yourself how is this serving your ideal client. How is this speaking to them and creating connection with them beyond your product, service or offering before writing any caption to make sure they are telling stories to create true engagement.

It’s anything but “authentic”

My third problem is that this is creating false engagement. What happened to authentic engagement and truly thinking about how to get our audience engaged with our content? This just doesn’t feel genuine to me. This is saying we need others to comment on our content because we don’t think our followers will on their own. Simply joining a pod because you want to see the number of likes and comments increase is not going to put more money in your bank account guys.

It takes up valuable time

Instagram pods can take up a lot of time that you could be investing into your business in different ways! True, pods can do some amazing things like keeping you consistent in your posting, create community that provides you with support from others. But group dynamics can really make this hard by creating pressure and taking a lot of your time to log into the app and comment distracting you from other things that are more important. And what happens next? You get sucked into everything else that’s happening on the app.

Some quick tips to do instead

  • Engage with your audience (instead of your peers) and sincerely comment on their posts
  • Think about ways you can invite them to engage with your account genuinely with call to actions
  • Hang out on the app and schedule posts for when your followers are on the app
  • Think about hashtags you can use that your audience is most likely searching for

Let’s get back to the heart of the app and focus on serving our ideal clients as best we can day in and day out. There are ways to try to cheat the system, but I think the developers behind the app are smarter than our band-aid approaches to try to beat the algorithm.

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  1. Love listening to Jenna’s Podcasts. Motivating and I always learn something. Cheers!

  2. Jessia says:

    The pods I am in are with true business friends, people I have been in masterminds with for a long time. These are also people that are NOT in my same industry – none of us offer the same services. I think when pods are set up like that, they can be beneficial and not fake. 🙂

  3. Maiah says:

    I was in a pod once and it was exhausting. Was thinking about rejoining yesterday and I’m so glad I came across this post because it reminded me of everything I disliked when In one – especially the weird sense of competition and yucky vibes. No thanks!

  4. Sam says:

    I have been on instagram building it for 7 years now and have about 4,000 followers you have been on the same amount of time but have 129,000 followers. What am I doing wrong? how do you interact with your followers if you only follow 900 of the 129,000 and cant see their content. I am a travel photographer and don’t know who my ideal client would really be! Looking for any advice!

  5. Anna says:

    I agree, especially the authenticity of comments. I used to join several pods but then eventually it’s more of an obligation, to like/comment, plus I don’t feel most are sincere when leaving their comments. I just strongly felt it’s unhealthy.


  6. Valerie says:

    Excellent advice. I have always felt out of the loop that I wasn’t in an instagram pod (although I follow a lot of my industry peers). I do want authentic followers not just spammy randomness.

    Thanks, Jenna!!

  7. Sophie says:

    Had never heard of Pods before, now I know! thanks…. totally hearing you on spending more time on insta, dont have the time for this. I would much prefer real engagement also!

  8. Lea Jasmine says:

    This is some great food for thought! I tried out an IG pod before and found that it dropped my usual engagement and clogged up my feed with “competitors”. Would you recommend following back people that follow you? Even if it’s not normally an account you’d follow?

  9. […] to quote the business genius, Jenna Kutcher, “What happened to authentic engagement and truly thinking about how to get our audience […]

  10. […] timeline.  If you want more information on this – Jenna Kutcher did a great blog post on Instagram pods that can inform you in your […]

  11. […] that seemed relevant to IG. Little by little I was learning more about the power of Stories, saying no to IG Pods, and …. Plann. The Instagram Scheduling tool that Jenna talks a lot about on her […]

  12. […] This is the game-changer. I see people complain about the algorithm on Instagram all the time and how easy it is for their engagement to plummet. You can wipe off the guilty look on your face. I 100% used to be one of those people too until I figured out what works. And it wasn’t an engagement pod [Jenna Kutcher has a GREAT podcast on why pods might actually be hurting you!]. […]


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Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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