I joined my first engagement group probably in Spring of 2016. I was a member for many months until I started HubHack, where I now run 10 engagement groups for members.
Over the past year, there are two very common questions that come up about engagement groups (also called Instagram pods.) I’ll throw out the disclaimer that things always change as it relates to any social media platform’s algorithm, AND that no one except Instagram/Facebook insiders truly know all of the elements and weighting inside their algorithm. (What is an algorithm? It’s an equation that determines how your post gets seen on Instagram. In a nutshell, posts that receive a lot of engagement within the first few hours of posting (likes and comments) will be pushed into more feeds, because Instagram’s algorithm believes that the post is good content – hence, all the likes and comments. If you post something that doesn’t get a lot of engagement initially, Instagram won’t push that post to more people – the algorithm will determine that the post isn’t all that great.)
Ok, so there are two questions that come up ALL THE TIME from people – among HubHack members and I also see these questions posted in Facebook groups (related to Instagram.)
1. Will being in an engagement group get my account deleted by Instagram, because it’s against their terms of service?
That’s an easy one. No. Because it is NOT against their Terms of Service. Nor their community guidelines. I’ve gone through both with a fine tooth comb. (Well, no, not really, I’ve just read them several times very carefully.) Here’s what WILL get your account shut down: Using automated programs, otherwise known as Spambots, to do your following/unfollowing, likes and comments.
This is most definitely against the Terms. Instagram wants to develop community, and that only comes from genuine interaction, not robotically generic comments, like: Nice shot!
One could make the argument that members of an engagement group are not “genuinely” interacting with each other’s content. Hmmm….on that one, my opinion is that I don’t believe that to be true. I encourage my members to leave thoughtful comments that actually pertain to what was posted – whether the picture or the caption. Simply stating, “Beautiful photo!” is not enough. I also encourage 3+ word comments, not including emojis.
2. If Instagram knows I’m in a group, could they penalize me by reducing my reach?
Many people have hypothesized that Instagram picks up on DM groups and their activity and starts invalidating their engagement. I just have not seen that to be true in reality. Is it possible? Well, sure! I’m sure some smart person could come up with a way to do that. But I just truly haven’t seen any evidence that engagement drops as a result of being involved in an engagement group.
If you are concerned about that possibility, there’s a sorta-easy fix: Switch around the groups you’re in. I don’t suggest being in 10 groups at one time (or even more than 2.) But engage with a group for a month or so, and then switch to another group. This is super easy for HubHack members, because I have so many groups for you to move around to. You don’t have to look too far at all. Just a simple DM request and I’ll add you to another group.
One last word on this. When people see a drop in engagement, it’s natural to look to WHY? But usually it’s easy for me to answer this question, and it has nothing to do with being in a group. Let’s take a look at why some posts get less engagement.
- You’ve posted at an off-peak time for your followers.
- You’ve posted content that either isn’t as good as your typical posts, OR it’s just different than what you usually post.
- You’ve posted using the new Gallery Feature. (Now – hey – I LOVE the new feature!!!! But as soon as it came out and ever since, Instagrammers have lamented that their reach on gallery posts are dramatically lower than on regular ol’ posts. I too have noticed this, immediately. It’s hard not to. What is so strange is that typically, when a social media platform introduces a new feature, they want people to adopt it, and so they boost the reach of that feature. Not so with galleries. Boo!)
- Instagram might have just recently went through a sweep of spam accounts. Yes, they do this frequently, and if you’re either using spam-attractive hashtags or have a lot of spammy followers, once their accounts get deleted, there goes any likes and comments from them. You’ll also notice a drop in your follower count. In this instance, it really is THEM, not you. No hard feelings. You truly don’t want spam followers anyway!
And while I’m at it, let me address a super common glitch that tends to spook engagement group members. You go to send a post to your DM group and it’s disappeared! You wonder if you got kicked out? Accidentally did something? Nope. It’s just a weird glitch. The way to get back on the island is simply to have another person make a comment in the group. You can wait for that to happen, as it should happen occasionally. Or if it’s urgent, you can DM another group member and ask them to get you outta hock.
Ok, so what are your thoughts? Have you noticed a drop in engagement after using engagement groups to boost your engagement? 😆 Is there any possibility it could actually be due to something else?
I’m a family photographer in Gwinnett County, Georgia.