Engagement pods are a relatively new phenomenon in the world of social media, and as such, there is a lot of misunderstanding about what they are and how to use them. They are also extremely controversial. When used correctly, a good engagement pod can help you boost your content and grow your audience faster than you would be able to without it. When used incorrectly, an engagement pod can help you push out a lot of mediocre content that no one wants to see and maybe get you suspended or banned.
In this article, I dig deep into what an engagement pod is. I also take a good hard look at the drawbacks and offer suggestions to combat them. If you have ever considered using an engagement pod, or you are already using one, then this article is definitely a must-read.
An engagement pod is a group of people who have agreed to engage with each other’s social media posts. This includes comments, likes, shares or retweets, and other types of interactions that show the world you enjoy the content. The goal is to give the algorithm a boost so your content reaches a larger group of people.
Every social media platform has a program called an algorithm that is designed to predict the quality of your content. The algorithm determines how many people see your posts on social media. It does a lot of other things, but for the purpose of this article, we are just focusing on one aspect of the algorithm. Each platform has a different algorithm and no one knows exactly how they work. But there are some basic rules that every platform follows.
- Your post is initially shown to a small percentage of the people who follow you. If you have 1000 followers, then your post will show up in the feed of 10–100 of them, depending on the platform.
- If you hit a certain threshold of engagement within a set period of time, your post is placed in the feeds of a larger audience. This varies greatly by platform, but the rule is generally the same. Get people to comment on, like, and share your post as quickly as possible and more people will see it.
- If engagement continues, more people will see the post until the algorithm determines the post is old. After that, engagement and views decrease dramatically and it is time to post again.
This is a brief overview that is not platform-specific. If you want to achieve success on a particular social media platform, I would recommend finding people who specialize in studying the algorithm of that particular platform, and then taking what they say with a grain of salt.
As an example, I follow several people who specialize in understanding the algorithm on LinkedIn, and often, the advice they give is completely contradictory. This is because it’s all guesswork backed up by research that is dependent on the profiles they have access to. But every creator is going to see different results.
You can learn more about algorithms here.
An engagement pod is a great way to give your content a boost if it is good content and you are using a solid hashtag strategy. But if you are pumping out a dreadful stream of poop (going to be nice here) then you will spend a lot of time engaging and find your results are mediocre at best.
Getting involved with an engagement pod that has experienced people at the helm is essential. You want to make sure you aren’t violating any social media rules that could get you suspended or banned. Technically, engagement pods are disallowed on most social media platforms and you can get into trouble fast if there isn’t education for proper use offered to pod members.
Furthermore, you should always follow what I feel is the Golden Rule of social media — Engage! Engage! Engage! If someone comments on your post, comment back. Say thank you, try to start a conversation. The algorithms reward posts that generate conversations.
Engagement pods are not necessarily bad. They are a really great way to grow your followers and show your content to more people. Raise your hand if you’ve ever put a ton of work into a post only to have it bomb.
It’s the worst feeling and a pod can help you avoid that. But pods can be easily misused or abused. Here’s a list of the bad aspects of pod use. I will go over ways to mitigate the negative effects next.
- Pods are technically banned on most platforms. Using one could get you in trouble and even kicked off the platform. If you aren’t hurting the user experience, most platforms turn a blind eye to it, and some even secretly encourage it among creators with a lot of potential.
- It may be harder to reach your target market. If you are trying to reach nail salon owners to sell them your new, fast-drying nail polish, and you’re hanging out on LinkedIn with real estate and marketing professionals, you may not be reaching the right people. This is where a good hashtag strategy can really benefit you.
- A pod can limit your network. If you are in an active pod, then participating is a lot of time and effort. This makes it harder to engage with people outside of the pod and can turn into a closed loop of engagement.
- A pod runs the risk of becoming ingenuine. If everyone is commenting with generic comments like, “Awesome!” or “Thank you for sharing!” then you risk losing traction with the algorithm and getting caught by the social media police. You can mitigate this risk by commenting thoughtfully and avoiding pods that aren’t guided by someone who educates members on proper etiquette.
- It becomes difficult to tell whether your content is any good. If you have a guaranteed stock of raving fans who have signed an unofficial contract promising to cheerlead everything you post, then you need to measure how well the post resonates with your audience differently.
- It’s considered cheating by some. But asking your mom, dad, friends, and acquaintances is okay. Annoyingly tagging people who don’t care is okay. It’s up to you to decide if there’s a difference. Realistically, there are people who create some amazing content that no one sees because they aren’t connected to the right people. And there are people who create garbage that get a ton of likes and views because they are. The sweet spot is good content and great connections. Am I right?
1 You get better at using social media. At the end of the day, if you have no idea how social media works, or even if you’re an expert, participating in a pod will teach you a lot about the algorithm and how social media works. Just be careful. If you’ve spent years developing a following and you join a pod for an extra boost, you want to make sure it’s one that won’t get you kicked off of a platform.
2 You learn how to write meaningful comments. Social media is inherently social and your content will get shown to other people if you are the beautiful social butterfly that I know you are. That means you follow the 10/1 rule and comment on 10 posts for every single post you publish. It’s hard. The drivel. I get it. Joining and participating in a pod helps you learn how to comment thoughtfully, even if you don’t know what to say.
3 You learn how to manage your time on social media better. Pods are a lot of work. Especially active ones. In the beginning, you will find you spend your whole day engaging with your pod.
The dopamine rush that comes from responding to a comment right away is hard to resist. But after a while, you realize you need to schedule your time better or nothing else gets done. Pods are a great way to prepare yourself for the day when you truly are an influencer and your posts go viral all the time. (We CAN dream, right?)
- Don’t Depend On The Pod. Avoid the closed loop by dedicating some time to commenting on posts from people who aren’t in the pod. Some good solid advice is to spend 30 minutes on the platform of your choice before posting, then post and share it in your pod, then engage with your pod.
- Schedule Time For It. I typically do pod work in the morning, at lunch, and at the end of the day. If I’m conscious of my time, I can respond to comments and engage with fellow pod members efficiently if I limit myself to 20 minutes or less three times a day.
- Focus On Creating Good Content First. Your pod members and the rest of society will thank you. If you find you aren’t getting any feedback from people outside the pod on your posts, this is a huge warning sign that you need to revisit your content.
- Be Kind To Pod Members. Don’t post and ghost. If you want to enjoy the benefits of a pod then you need to be fair and participate. And comment with thoughtful and kind feedback.
- Try To Leave Meaningful Comments. Do you want to get yourself and your fellow pod members kicked off the platform? It’s hard to do, but if you respond to every post with, “Thanks for sharing!” then you’re not helping anyone.
- Make It Easy For Others. Add a question to your post. Or tell people to heart if they agree and like if they don’t. Give readers something to respond to in each post. Your pod members will love you because it makes their work easier. And it increases your chances of engagement outside the pod because you’re making it easier for everyone.
- Always Analyze and Improve. It’s hard to understand why a post does or doesn’t do well on social media. But when you are in a pod, it’s actually easier. When you get meaningful engagement, you hit the spot. But if most of your responses consist of “Great post!” or “Awesome, thanks for sharing!” then it might be a sign that you need to look at what you’re doing a little more closely.