Beware of Engagement Pods on Social Media

Published October 2, 2023
Let’s talk about engagement pods on social media and why they might be something your brand wants to avoid.
A woman with a megaphone stands on a platform in the center. Several people are on attached platforms, all facing the speaker and agreeing or applauding.

First, what is an engagement pod? So, unlike buying bot followers or bot engagements, these engagements come from real people. They are groups of like-minded individuals or influencers joining to boost their online presence. These pods work by engaging with each other’s content, such as liking, commenting, and sharing posts, to increase their reach and visibility.

Engagement pods are on various social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and X (Twitter). They can be formed in different ways, such as through direct messaging or group chats, and usually consist of individuals who have similar target audiences or niches. The pod members commit to regularly engaging with each other’s posts, ensuring that everyone benefits from increased engagement and improved visibility.

Engagement drives distribution on social media, so why could this be a negative for brands? Well, let’s say a brand partners with an influencer who participates in this tactic.

The brand sees a very engaged audience, and it appears this will be a successful campaign. However, this audience is more like when you start a business page, and only family members and employees engage with posts. While those engagements help reach more people and maybe the perception of popularity, none of those engagements are new customers interested in the product. Now imagine this at a scale of thousands of engagements. All of these users are engaging with the content, but it’s almost a fake engagement. These individuals don’t all have an interest in the content posted or a desire to buy. They’re just hyping up the influencer posting.

This strategy puts brands in a tough spot. This tactic isn’t as bad as buying fake followers and engagements from bots, but the audience isn’t as powerful as it seems and might not line up with the amount of money or perks the influencer is asking for.

How do you spot an influencer utilizing an engagement pod? I like to look at the depth of the engagements. If it’s just a bunch of people saying “awesome” “cool”, or other low level interactions this is one sign. Another sign is if the engagements are focusing primarily on the influencer, “you look great” etc. Natural interactions would ask questions about the content of the post. Instagram is also rumored to be banning people caught participating in this tactic, so it may soon be a worry of the past. Almost similar to where Google punished the SEO hack of keyword stuffing.

While engagement pods may offer a quick boost in engagement, they come with risks and may not lead to genuine growth or leave you disappointed. Avoid this disappointment by focusing on authentic engagement, user-generated content, legitimate influencer marketing campaigns, and consistently creating quality content.

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