Alright boys and girls, listen up. In this article, we’re going to cover an Instagram growth strategy that is not usually covered in conventional marketing blogs. Engagement groups, also known as Instagram pods – what are they and how can you use them to increase your organic reach on Instagram?
Whether you’re an advanced marketer or just starting out on Instagram, chances are that you probably haven’t heard about engagement groups. Either way I encourage you to stick around to read this post, because we have some good stuff stored for you.
Firstly, I want to point out that there are dozens of ways you can drive up engagement and get more followers. In my opinion, marketers who know a lot of different practices are the ones that are most successful and are crushing it right now.
Instagram is one of the hottest and fastest growing social media platforms. In the start of 2017, we’re looking at over 600 million monthly active users on the platform (according to statista.com). However, only 5% of small businesses in US use Instagram for their online marketing activities. That means, it’s not yet over saturated and brands that are using Instagram are very likely getting noticed.
“Attention is the most valuable asset” – Gary Vaynerchuk
On the Hopper blog, there are many topics on Instagram marketing. Such as:
- How To Get Your Top Nine Posts On Instagram 2017
… And more.
So, what are engagement groups?
The purpose of participating in engagement groups is to get your post into the Top Posts section and gain good organic growth from there.
Engagement groups are basically group conversations within Instagram and also on other platforms (e.g. there are several on Telegram app). They are called engagement groups because everybody participating in these groups are willing to like and/or comment on other members’ posts in exchange for their own posts getting liked and/or commented.
Each group usually has its own rules. Either it’s a comment only group, a like only group or a combination of both. I’ve also seen groups forming around Instagram stories. Since it’s a rather new feature of Instagram, people are experimenting to find out how story engagement translates into an account’s growth.
Usually, engagement groups have certain times of day when everybody drops their posts into a group so it would get a lot of likes and comments during the first hours of posting. This could very well be one of the most important indicators for Instagram to rank your content.
I’ve seen similar patterns on Facebook as well in the early days. Posts with a lot of engagement during the first hour of posting tended to get more organic reach.
In an engagement group, these specific times when all the members are posting are called rounds. Very briefly, a round usually starts 30 minutes before the actual engagement time. This is the time where everybody who wants to participate in the round drop their usernames into the conversation.
After 30 minutes, username dropping will be closed and the group admin or a chatbot will compile a list of all the users who wanted to participate. Then all the participants can take this list and start their engagement.
After engaging with all the posts, you usually have to announce that you’re finished in the group chat as well. That really depends on a specific group’s rules and how everything is technically set up.
Alternatively, groups can work asynchronously. This means that all the members can drop their posts into the group whenever they want and like or comment other members’ posts whenever they want.
An example would be a classical comment group. You open the group, give comments to the 5 (or whatever amount is agreed upon) latest posts in the conversation and drop your post into the conversation. When somebody else wants to participate, he/she simply comments on the last 5 posts and drops his/her post into the conversation. And so, it goes on and on.
Both options are good as you get real people commenting on and liking your posts. However, in order to get massive growth, it’s better if you can plan the time for higher engagement. As I said before, it’s important to get a lot of engagement in the first hour of posting.
Schedule your Instagram posts.
Fully automated posts. No phone required.
What type of impact do these groups have?
As with everything in life, Instagram also keeps changing its algorithm and ranking factors. For example, back in the beginning of 2016, people were tagging a lot of famous Instagram account’s (e.g. @cristiano, @selenagomez etc) in their caption, which contributed considerably to their post engagement and reach. I’ve seen accounts with only a few hundred followers go to thousands of followers overnight by getting viral with just one video that was well optimised with these famous account tags.
Unfortunately, this does not work anymore. Even though getting your content liked or commented on by one of these accounts would probably give your content a very high ranking score, but it’s extremely rare that one of these famous accounts would like or comment on your post.
sorry, but it’s true 🙁
Luckily for us, engagement groups still work quite nicely. Here’s a couple of shots of @gettinggrowth latest post that got featured into the Top Posts section:
The fact is, it works right now. By work I mean that you’ll get your posts into Top Posts section if you have good content and well researched hashtags. I honestly cannot say this will keep working for years, but hey, let’s make the most out of it while we can, right?
There are some rumours that likes and comments that come from Instagram messages (group conversations) are less valuable than likes and comments originating from external sources. Also, likes in general are less valuable than comments. But that probably might depend on your location, account type (business vs. personal), follower count, engagement etc.
How do I get into these engagement groups?
Since they are not heavily promoted, you should simply send messages to accounts that seem to be doing good in terms of engagement and ask if they are in one of these groups and if they could possibly add you too. Majority of these groups are free, but some of them have entrance fees (beware of scammers).
They all work pretty much the same. I suggest looking for groups, where the members have a similar follower count and content. Because you don’t really want to get a lot of engagement from totally random accounts with little followers.
You can also Google and find some groups, but I recommend starting with Instagram groups or Telegram groups.
If you’re struggling to find these groups you can also hit me up in Instagram @gettinggrowth. I’d be happy to tell you more and add you to these groups. Also, check out my Instagram guide on How to become famous on Instagram.
Guest Author: Johannes Kanter
Johannes helps small businesses with their online marketing challenges and writes about Instagram marketing for his blog GettingGrowth.com.
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