I joined an Instagram engagement group so you don’t have to

A woman on her phone with multiple phone around her, suggesting being overwhelmed by social media.

by Helen Khan

June 26th 2022

Published in Social Media

5 min read

CONTENTS

    This is the story of how I grew an Instagram channel from 0-4000 followers in 1 month — and why I regret it.

    Instagram engagement groups have been all the rage in the last couple of years to boost the visibility and engagement of your social posts. But how effective are they? Where do you find them? How do you join a group? And what are the negatives?

    In this blog post, we’ll answer all those questions and give you an overall verdict on engagement groups, whether or not they’re worth your time.

    Story time.

    If you’re anything like me as a marketer, you spend far too much time scrolling through Instagram, liking and commenting at lightning speed. It was ingrained in me that this was the way to boost engagement and following. It became a habit.

    It’s not surprising that the average person spends over two hours on social media a day. But when you work in marketing, sometimes that statistic doubles.

    I would wake up in the morning – and instead of scrolling through my personal feed – I would anxiously like, comment and save the trending posts for whichever social accounts I was managing.

    At lunchtime, I would find myself watching reels on the latest tips and tricks. When I finally got around to posting in the afternoon, I would comment on similar posts with the same hashtags to attract viewers to my recent update.

    Sounds familiar? My love/hate relationship with social media wasn’t healthy, but I always tried to keep up with the latest tactics to beat the pesky Instagram algorithm. Enter engagement groups.

    Enter Instagram engagement groups.

    Instagram pods were ‘the next big thing’ of 2020. Here is where I have to admit — I jumped on the bandwagon. I joined an engagement group of like-minded people who agree to like, save and comment on each other’s posts.

    The thinking behind engagement groups is simple: Instagram favours posts with high engagement. Artificially inflating the numbers allows you to trick the algorithm into thinking that your post is more popular than it actually is.

    By doing this, there is a much higher chance of your post appearing on more feeds as it is considered worth viewing by Instagram, increasing both reach and impressions.

    Instagram engagement groups sound great. Where do I sign up?

    They became so popular that Reddit even has a Subreddit full of people looking for a niche engagement group like Hip Hop pods or Pet pods. There is even a thread looking for a Car Wash pod. What’s not to like?

    I found a thread looking for a creative group. I commented. And within a few minutes, a representative reached out. A rep from a well-known group with 80k+ followers on Instagram, merchandise and thousands of active users.

    After following their lengthy instructions — which included downloading their communication channel of choice (Telegram in this case) as Instagram frowns upon these groups — I was ready to go.

    What are some of the benefits?

    By tricking the algorithm, I experienced higher visibility on Instagram, an extreme increase in followers, and a high engagement rate. What’s not to like?

    Then there were the other benefits. Meaningful connections. New content creators to follow for a dose of daily inspiration. Being surrounded by others who faced the same issues and challenges I did as a marketer. I felt like I belonged.

    Do engagement groups sound too good to be true? It was.

    What are some of the negatives?

    Aside from all the numbers being artificially high – which left me feeling like a fraud – there were numerous problems with the engagement group, which eventually caused me to drop out and virtually run away.

    Firstly, it was time-consuming. The amount of effort required to stay active was extreme — liking and commenting on other members’ posts 50+ at a time, which often led to Instagram blocking engagement on my account if I wasn’t careful.

    This leads us to the number of rules I had to follow to be in this particular group:

    • I had to like and comment every day, even if I didn’t post that day, and I would be kicked out of the group if I didn’t meet the requirements.
    • All comments could be different and had to be more than 5 words with limited emojis. Trying to write ‘what a cool post’ in 50 different ways on posts that do not resonate is exhausting.
    • You had to engage with the 50+ posts above yours; otherwise, you face a penalty.

    Next were the thousands of followers I gained, all of which provided excellent face value but never intended to convert (who needs vanity metrics?)

    Followed by the toxicity and aggressive comments in the group, which were highly off-putting, combined with the alternative niches such as guns and pornographic posts (which I still had to like and find something to comment on to stay in the group).

    And then the fake connections – everyone was there only to boost their ego and social following. The sense of community was quickly replaced with competition and the need to one-up each other.

    Eventually, I became extremely disillusioned with the idea of engagement groups and decided it wasn’t worth it.

    So, would I join an engagement group again?

    In short – no. The negatives outweigh the positives by a long shot.

    The benefits were high visibility on the platform, increased followers, and a high engagement rate. However, the negatives included the time commitment, the number of rules to follow, fake connections and toxicity among members.

    If you do decide to join one, be aware of the rules. Make sure it’s a reputable group with high-quality followers, and be prepared for a lot of time commitment.

    [Contents]The alternatives[/contents]

    If not engagement groups, then what?

    While higher engagement is the clear answer to getting around Instagram’s newest algorithm changes, it depends on the type and the quality of engagement instead of just quantity.

    Instagram is clever. It knows about engagement groups and other quick wins — like buying followers and likes — and will always prioritise natural engagement.

    Instead of trying to trick the system, what can you do instead?

    Whenever we provide marketing advice, it always comes back to one key message:

    “The best way to get high-quality engagement is to add value to your followers. Give them a reason to interact. Inspire them, entertain them and educate them.”

    By adding value, more people will engage with your profile and posts, which will naturally increase visibility on feeds, increase followers and generate real connections with real customers.

    If you want to know more about how we can help boost your social media engagement in ways that matter, book a free consultation.