About three years ago, frustrated business owners thought they finally found a way to hack the social media algorithms. After realizing that platforms like Facebook and Instagram favor posts with high engagement (likes, comments, shares, clicks, etc.), people thought the key to beating the algorithm was by creating Instagram engagement pods of people to constantly engage with their posts.
However, this is far from the truth.
What is an Instagram Engagement Pod?
An Instagram engagement pod is a group of people (usually in the same industry) who are committed to engaging with each other’s Instagram posts. The entire purpose of the engagement pod is to boost engagement on posts to trick the algorithm into showing it to more people who follow the user, through hashtags, or geolocation. With a higher engagement rate, a user is also more likely to appear on the “Explore” page on Instagram.
Pods are particularly popular with those in MLMs and most recently, they’ve begun popping up in the dental industry.
These groups generally range from 15 to 1,000 people and use group messages or Facebook groups to coordinate post and engagement times. Each engagement pod has its own set of rules. When someone fails to follow the rules, the group kicks them out.
How Do Instagram Engagement Pods Work?
Although all pod groups are different, they usually follow the same formula. First, there is a pod “drop.” A pod drop is a predetermined time when everyone in the group will share their content. For instance, everyone in a pod might agree to all post a photo at 2 pm EST on Thursday. Then on Thursday at 2 pm EST, everyone’s posts will be live.
After the drop, everyone in the group has one hour to like and comment on each of the group member’s posts. The first hour after a post is created is the most important for the algorithm. With a high engagement rate within the first hour after being posted, it’s more likely that the post will show up on more people’s feeds.
How Do Dentists Find Instagram Pods?
In the dental industry, a lot of the Instagram pods that still exist today were actually founded by Smile Virtual—the virtual consultation company. A number of our clients alerted us that Smile Virtual encouraged them to sign up for Instagram engagement pods to increase visibility on their posts to therefore get more virtual consultations. Smile Virtual helped connect dentists to create small pods that contained about 20 dentists. After reviewing messages from pods our clients were a part of, we also discovered they were providing dentists with training on how to use the pods.
In the past year, it seems that Smile Virtual wanted to distance themselves from these Instagram pods after sending messages in these pods declaring that they will be deleting all of them and if dentists wish to resume their engagement pods, they would need to recreate it themselves.
Aside from Smile Virtual, dentists might find pods in Facebook groups or on Reddit. If they search hard enough, they can find them. It’s just not always easy to get in and stay in. Most groups kick out a member if they miss engagement on one drop.
What Kind of Results to Expect
Before you rush to go find an Instagram engagement pod for dentists to join, we encourage you to learn what to expect in terms of your results. Dentists who participate in a pod can expect more:
- Follows — from other dentists
Sure these all sound great on paper, but social media isn’t about generating likes or comments. It’s about building a community and connecting with potential patients who have problems you can help them with.
Top Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Participate in an Instagram Engagement Pod
Now that you know how pods work and what type of results you can achieve, it’s important to understand all the reasons why you shouldn’t participate in one.
1. Your Posts Will Look Spammy
If you look at any dentist’s Instagram account who actively participates in a pod, each of their posts only shows comments from other dentists. If you look at this from a patient’s perspective, this looks incredibly suspicious. Your patients don’t care if you’re friends with tons of dentists. They care if you’ve helped other patients just like them. Having tons of likes and comments from other dentists will make your posts look like spam and ruin any credibility you had with a potential patient.
2. You’re Only Gaining Followers Who are Dentists
Nobody knows exactly how the Instagram algorithm works, but we do know one thing—it’s smart enough to know what types of posts to show people. If only dentists engage with your posts or follow your account, this tells Instagram that your posts perform well with dentists. As a result, it will show your posts to more dentists—not patients. The more and more dentists who engage with your posts, the more dentists will continue to discover your account. An Instagram pod is not effective for finding new patients.
3. It’s Time Consuming
If you’re a dentist, we know you’re already short on time. If you want to participate in an Instagram pod, you either need to say goodbye to some of your free time, or enlist someone in your office to take care of it for you. Depending on the specific pod you’re part of, you’re looking at spending at least an hour per day engaging with other people’s posts.
4. You’re Not Getting New Patients
As we stated before, participating in an Instagram pod with other dentists will only lead to more dentists interacting and engaging with your page. In no way will this lead to you getting new patients. You need real people interacting with your posts, not dentists.
5. Your Account Might Get Blocked
With the high level of engagement required in an engagement pod, there’s also a very likely chance your account gets blocked for suspicious activity. Instagram will soon catch on to what you’re doing. When you like too many posts, comment too frequently, or have a massive following or unfollowing sprees, Instagram flags this as suspicious behavior. Your actions will make you look like a bot has taken over your account to get you new followers. Instagram does not allow for people to pay for followers or use software for engagement. Instagram might place your account on a temporary block. The block may become permanent if it happens multiple times.
6. Your Results Look Suspicious
If anyone looks at your content before you joined an Instagram pod, they’re going to see a huge increase in engagement overnight. Unless you started creating the most exciting content known to man, this will look incredibly suspicious.
The Key to Social Media Success as a Dentist? Social Media Management
So now that you know Instagram engagement pods aren’t worth your time as a dentist, how can you get new followers and more patients? With social media management for dentists! When you post content that’s created to help educate patients or content they find interesting, they will engage with your posts. If they aren’t engaging with your posts, then it’s not because you’re not in an Instagram pod, it’s because your content isn’t great.
In addition to helping you create content that your followers will enjoy, social media management from Pro Impressions Marketing also includes a dedicated block of time towards engagement. This means we go in and engage with your followers and potential patients—not other dentists.
Our packages also include paid content promotion, stories, custom branding, hashtag research, and so much more! We offer three different social media packages to help dentists find one that best suits their needs.
Let us help you take your social media to the next level, without a sketchy pod group. Explore our different social media packages and then either sign up or contact us at (970) 672-1212 to learn more. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have. Start gaining new patients today!