Engagement pods are not new, but usage seems to be increasing. If you haven’t paid attention to pods in the past, you may want to now.
What Are Engagement PODs?
An engagement pod is a group of influencers who support each other by liking and commenting on each other’s posts in order to boost their metrics and game algorithms.
Pods can range from small groups of influencers with shared interests to Facebook groups with thousands of members. Pods emerged in 2017 when Instagram changed its algorithm, removed feeds with chronological posts and featured only posts with high engagement rates. Influencer engagement rates dropped, panic set in, and pods were created as a way to cheat the system.
Why Engagement Pods are Bad for Your Brand
You count on influencer marketing to reach and influence your target audience. But if you hire an influencer who participates in an engagement pod, your campaign’s organic engagement metrics aren't accurate and you won't be reaching the right people. Comments and likes from an engagement pod are not are not providing value for your brand.
If you pay influencers based solely on engagement rates (which is something we advise against) you are likely overpaying. Remember, an influencer is only as valuable as their influence, and if they manufacture engagement, they have no influence.
How to Protect Your Brand
Brand safety is always a top concern, but protecting your brand from influencer fraud can be time-consuming. Here are a few actions you can take to safe guard your brand,
- Carefully vet influencers before hiring. Don’t just browse their feeds, take the time to read comments and look at the accounts that are commenting. Look at the quality of the comments; emojis or one-word comments are a red flag
- Audit your current influencer partners for signs of inflated engagement
- Don’t pay high rates to influencers for high engagement rates
- Consider adding language to your influencer contracts that prohibits partners from engaging in engagement pods and indemnifies your brand for any damage in connection with an influencers use of pods, such as violations of Facebook and Instagram’s Terms of Service
- If you have other reasons for working with influencers, like content creation, it may not may not matter if they participate in a pod. It all depends on what your goals are
If you are concerned with avoiding influencer engagement pods and other fraudulent influencer activities, reach out. We’d love to chat!