When Instagram introduced a new algorithm last July, people were pissed. Users were complaining about the lack of new content on their feed, photos they *actually* wanted to see not appearing on their timelines and, arguably the most important bit, a big drop in engagement from followers.
Which might be why bloggers and social influencers alike are having to find a new way to boost their engagement and force their photos back onto people's feeds—by using "pods."
Racked reports Instagrammers are joining forces with accounts similar to their own to create Instagram pods: a group of people who agree to like and comment on each other's photos in an attempt to give them a boost.
It's not as simple as just slapping a like on a photo here and their, either; there are certain rules that people in a pod must follow, that Instagram members ultimately believe will help them to beat the algorithm.
Said rules essentially aim to make the social media support mimic that of actual "meaningful" or "authentic" engagement. Comments must be at least three words long, are not allowed to be just emojis, and must happen very quickly after the post goes up on their profile.
While some might say it's a positive thing to encourage a community environment amongst bloggers, and that showing support for each other is no bad thing, others are questioning the impact these pods will have on the industry as a whole.
Take a piece of sponsored fashion content, for example. If all of the comments, likes and "OMG I love this dress I'm going to buy it tomorrow" fangirling isn't authentic, is it not the case that the brand's data becomes completely inaccurate? And does that not take away from bloggers whose followers would genuinely be interested in the content they're being paid to advertise?
Of course, it's also questionable whether an onslaught of support from similar blogs will actually beat the algorithm or increase engagement from actual followers at all, or if it won't impact the suggest posts or feed of Instagram users in the slightest.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.