This Week in Pods

Instagrammers refuse to accept that they’re living in the darkest timeline.

Photo credit: Webster2703, CC0 Public Domain

This week, the pods are made of people, and they’re fighting against the darkest Instagram timeline:

The secret Instagram ‘pods’ using likes to fight the new algorithm

In June 2016, Instagram began rolling out its new algorithmic timeline which changed the order of posts in people’s feeds, favouring popular posts over chronology. Instagram bloggers have been complaining that it’s becoming harder to gain followers organically. Faced with this new challenge, they’re fighting back. In pod-form.

In other words:

When Instagram changed its timeline from chronological to algorithmic, only the most popular posts appeared at the tops of people’s Instagram feeds. This created a Matthew Effect (“to them that hath, more shall be given”): popular posts became more popular, and posts that could have become popular in a chronological timeline got buried beneath the already-popular posts.

To combat this effect, Instagrammers have started forming pods. Pod members agree to like and comment on each others’ posts to boost their popularity and give them a better chance of appearing in the algorithmic timeline.

Since joining the pods, [Amanda Rose] gets around 120 likes for each picture she posts within the space of a few hours. She also gets around 40 comments per post. “Prior to this I was getting around 30–40 likes, 60 on a good day! And only 1 or 2 spam comments,” she says.

Rose, in this case, is a member of eight pods.

Why does all of this matter? Because Instagram is a way to make money—you can resell your clothes on Instagram, you can launch an original fashion line, you can pick up corporate sponsors and get really excited about detox tea—and by changing the timeline, the most popular Instagrammers now have the opportunity to earn most of the money.

Even if you aren’t using Instagram specifically to earn money, having an popular and active Instagram feed can help you promote your creative work, your small business, or your online brand—and yes, that kind of thing matters if you’re trying to get certain types of jobs. (I try not to spend too much time worrying about my social media brand, but I do think about it.)

So I’m rooting for the pods. Let’s hope Instagram doesn’t change the algorithm again, to only promote posts where at least 20 percent of the comments come from new followers or something.

Support The Billfold

The Billfold continues to exist thanks to support from our readers. Help us continue to do our work by making a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time-only contribution through PayPal.