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Instagram comment groups or pods come in various forms – mass Telegram chats with hundreds of people, DM groups and even niche Facebook ones. Varying in size and quality of accounts, many people who are in one or have been before told me that they wouldn’t usually follow the people there if it weren’t for the group’s rules. These collectives are complex beasts. And I hate them. Aside from the obvious reason that they’re an incredibly stressful environment for any blogger to place themselves (here I spoke about it in a video), they actually do a lot more bad than good, here’s why:
“Someone here has posted but hasn’t commented on my last photo.”
This is a real complaint that some of my friends in these groups have received. Like, who the fuck cares? The answer is: Instagram comment groups make you care, very much. I’m not going to say much more on this because the quote itself demonstrates just how petty and passive aggressive these pods can be.
They don’t actually improve your engagement
They just give you the impression that you’re doing something proactive about falling engagement rates but in actual fact, you’re not. When I’ve asked people who have admitted to being in as many as ten if these groups really work, they’ll tell me that they get nice feedback on their photos but in terms of helping that image get to the Explore page, it’s ineffective. And think about it logically, if you’re attempting to get real likes and real comments to get to that sacred tab, no matter how many you join, you just can’t beat automation. People with like-bots don’t require users to sit by their phones across different time zones, waiting for someone to post in order to like it ASAP. If you’re in a group for this reason, it’s wasted effort.
They’re not really about friendship
Now before I get a tirade of messages from my blogger friends, some of which I have met via these comment groups, I should specify before going any further: the priority of these groups are not about ‘supporting’ one another but promoting your own posts. The two groups I’ve previously been part of were run by absolutely lovely girls and I was already following most of the people in them. However, back then I was incredibly selective about which I agreed to, as well as curious. And now that that interest has fully died out, I’d rather strike up a conversation with someone over DM than join a group just for ten more follows.
Plus, a lot of them recruit based on your size of following. Have I proven my point that these aren’t about friendship?
The cult of secrecy
The cult of secrecy is one of the huge issues with these pods. Some operate on an invite-only system, others simply add you to a seemingly random group where Instagrammers spam the chat with their latest posts for you to like and comment. In particular those accounts with a larger following but low engagement rate, are incredibly angsty about revealing their participation. While I believe this to be an unfounded anxiety, they believe that it ‘looks bad’ because its not truly organic and that brands will see their already humble engagement as inauthentic. It’s this paranoia around the Instagram comment group activity that have pushed accounts to move onto encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp or Telegram instead. Acting under the cloak of secrecy on a social platform is damaging because psychologically, people are persuaded into thinking that their content is not good enough and that their comments or likes aren’t from ‘real fans’.
I’ve recently received a few emails and DM’s from accounts claiming to be ‘influencer networks’, which are actually a guise for mass engagement pods. And do you know where these end up? My junk folder – and that’s not even intentional. That’s because a lot of them start off as ‘Hi, Influencer/Blogger’ and while we all know that’s not very professional or personal, the problem is that Instagram is already so much about numbers. The only thing that’s not is us, we’re real. But these spammy collectives are reducing us to figures so they can claim they’re in contact with 1000’s of bloggers. Gross and no thank you.
Comment groups are not an Instagram offence and I still know some of my friends are actively part of them. Whatever makes you happy. However, having experienced some myself, I see that they’re simply distracting us from real blogger priorities.
If you’re in a comment group or have been in one, what’s your reason? Get in touch via my contact form or leave me a comment on Instagram.