Pods - The Latest Like Farming Ploy by Instagram Users

Of all the social media platforms, Instagram is arguably the biggest popularity contests. The most prominent celebrities all love it, and even casual users sometimes treat it like a ladder, littering every post with all the hottest hashtags to make sure it reaches the broadest audience it can.

As a result, a lot of the platform's original charm has been siphoned away, as striking, interesting photography has yielded to half-heartedly polished snaps of brunch plates and overexposed hiking photos which have stupid things like #lustforlife sitting underneath them. Now there's a whole new phase to this popularity arms race - 'pods'.

Pods are groups of like-minded Instagram users who all agree to like each other's posts in a bid to boost engagement. For instance, a group of travel-minded users might set up a pod and then start liking each other's pictures. There's a term I think very accurately describes this but it's a tad rude, so I'll just say it relates to a particular two-dimensional shape and a traditional Jamaican method of meat preparation.

This seems to have happened in the wake of Instagram ditching their old, chronological feed in favour of an algorithmically-based one. Since that change came into effect, many users have complained that they aren't seeing the same numbers on their posts anymore. By creating pods, it seems that they're hoping to push their content further up the feed. It would be an admirable feat of co-operation if it wasn't for such a pointless goal.

Interestingly, each pod seems to have its own rulebook, which dictates what people should say in the comments, when to share the posts, which hashtags to use, which users to tag and so forth. It's still too early to say how effective all this will actually be, but given how seriously users seem to be taking it, and how Instagram's algorithms function, the smart money says it's going to be very effective indeed.

Well, effective for users, but brands will likely be none too happy if pods really take off. Instagram promotion relies on solid data and genuine engagement, rather than boosting. The likes gained from pods are only meant to give posts that first leg up, granted, but the moment that happens, the stats aren't trustworthy anymore.

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