April 21, 2017

Why Instagram Comment Pods Are Hurting Bloggers


Last year a brand reached out to me to collaborate. They were interested in a blog collaboration, but not an Instagram collaboration. They said my engagement on Instagram was low. I was confused. I usually fluctuate between 400-550 likes and around 20 comments or so on each photo, but my reach is usually 3000+. How much more engagement are they looking for? Then I started noticing a trend on people’s feeds. Someone would post a picture of a vase with flowers and they would legit get 80 – 110 comments. Really? Flowers get that many comments? Then I had noticed that on certain accounts the same people would comment over and over again on each others' feed. I was impressed yet so confused. I was working super hard to engage with people, but I was still not able to get more than 40 comments per photo. Now a brand was telling me that my numbers are low?

Then I received a message from another blogger asking me if I wanted to join her Instagram Comment Pod. A what? A pod? No clue what that was. After some research it all made sense. Bloggers now have the ability to be part of groups whose sole purpose is to comment and like each others pictures on Instagram.Yes! That is sadly a thing. The idea left me uneasy, but I said to myself I will try it. Comment pods generally consist of somewhere between 15 to 25 people.You are all expected to comment on each others' pictures and once you have done so you can share your picture with the group and they will comment and like your photo on Instagram as well. Sounds great, right? Not so fast! After trying it for a month, I decided it wasn’t for me. Here is why:

Pro: Increase in Comments
My comments skyrocketed from 25 to 80. I was now receiving comments from both the pod group and my followers. There is no denying it. A couple of people comment on your photo and then the crowds are rushing in! It was nice to know that no matter what, the comment pod would come to the rescue if no one was commenting on my pictures. 

Con: Comments Did Not Feel Genuine
Apart from my followers who were genuinely commenting on my photos, the comments I received from the pod group seemed generic and really gave me no gratification that "Yes my followers are loving my posts so they are commenting more". I even felt like I was commenting on their photos just for the sake of commenting and keeping up with the comment pod. I had nothing interesting or genuine to say other than "Love your outfit!" Mind you sometimes I did love their outfit, but even that no longer seemed genuine.

Con: Engagement Increase Was Temporary
Even before I said yes to joining the comment pod, I couldn't help but ask myself the following question: How long do you think you can comment on the same people's feed over and over again? For how many days? How many months? What if the pod group seizes to exist? I also did not find any benefit in regards to gaining new followers. If anything I was noticing people would follow and unfollow more which is so annoying when you are trying to build your number and reach.

Con: Wasting My Time
I was spending so much time keeping up with the pod group I was neglecting my own followers or accounts that I loved. I had no time to reply to comments on my feed or comment on other people I followed outside from the comment pod. I was essentially using my time the wrong way. Instead of engaging with my community I was just engaging with the comment pod. 

Con: Exhausting 
Commenting on Instagram became a burden for me; another thing on my to do list. Before I used to look at photos and I was happy to comment.  During the time I was part of the comment pod I dreaded my entire Instagram existence. It was exhausting to keep up with all the photos people would share on the group chat. 

Why I left

Although I disliked the idea of comment pods, I thought it was important for me to give it a try. I think every blogger should give it a try at least once. The group I was a part of was lovely. Beautiful accounts, inspiring bloggers to follow, and everyone in the group was easy going. Here were my major reasons for leaving:

Better To Have 2 Genuine Comments Than 60 Non Genuine.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to get more comments on your photos, and yes only getting 2 comments on photos does suck. I wanted more comments too so I tried the comment pod. To me, it came down to being truthful to my sponsors and most importantly my brand. As a blogger, my aim is to create content that inspires my audience to leave a comment.I would rather have 2 comments that are genuine than to have 60 that are forced. 

The Comment Pod Did Not Help My Brand Grow 
During the month I was in the comment pod, I was unable to see what was working for my brand and what was hurting my brand. I was not able to see which pictures had a good reach with my audience and which did not. This was due to the fact that the people in the comment pod I was a part of were always there to save the day and comment on my photos. As a brand and an individual I want to be able to learn something from each photo I post on Instagram. 

Brands and PR Companies Need to Wake Up
Too harsh? Maybe. We are all in the same industry and yet we are like night and day when it comes to being informed about what is happening. Brands are looking for active and engaged following and when they see feeds of bloggers (of similar audience numbers to mine) with their 80 plus comments and their 1k likes they assume this the norm. To a certain extent, in my opinion, comment pods are hurting bloggers. Comment pods are hurting bloggers in more ways than we are able to know or understand. For all I know there were more brands that wanted to collaborate with me, but did not. When brands are looking at Instagram accounts and they see a picture with 80 plus comments they take this fact for face value. 80 comments are 80 comments. What they are failing to notice is that these comments may not be necessarily organic which makes all the rest of us with our 20 humble yet genuine comments look like the losers of  the Instagram game. Brands and PR companies seem to be oblivious. How do they not know this is going on? Mind you, yes some bloggers do get 80 comments that are genuine. Let's us assume everyone is part of comment pod. I do urge you though to look at trends though because you will be able to tell who is a comment pod and who is not. 

There is no right recipe to winning Instagram in an organic way, but comment pods are not the answer to growing our social media. Maybe as a short term solution, but in the long run this is no way to continue. These are just my humble thoughts on this whole comment pod trend. 

Are you or have been in a comment pod? How do you feel about them? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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2 comments

  1. Very interesting read for me. I've done the comment pod thing. I joined for the same reason. I wanted to increase my engagement and I was curious if it would work. And while I got more comments, I couldn't stand how fake they felt to me. Even worse, I HATED how fake my comments felt towards other peoples' photos. It made Instagram feel stressful and annoying and I'd "catch up" on my pod photos first and then be annoyed and not want to check the rest. It was exhausting.

    So...I do hope brands notice. There are SO many things that drive me nuts about the way people approach Instagram. All we can do is hope that the brands can see through it...but it's tough to argue with numbers!

    Anyhow - thanks for sharing this post!

    Jackie
    Something About That

    ReplyDelete
  2. I completely understand your point. I have recently joined a comment pod for much of the same reason. I'm seeing people get hundreds and thousands of comments and likes, but the picture didn't inspire me at all. Huh? I asked. Here are a couple of things that I've observed so far.

    1. People are motivated by what they get out of the deal (transactional)

    2. It teaches you how to treat your organic users. Reciprocate often. Social media is not just a take, take, take proposition, there is a responsibility to the readers and fans.

    3. It's like shopping at the second hand store, if you look hard enough, you find some really great finds (people, blogs, etc.)

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

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