It’s not easy to become a real influencer as not everyone has the ability or the patience to organically build a following of individuals who share their mindset and values, and to be considered a leader among them. However, while not everyone can achieve it, anyone can try. Unfortunately, this has led to the rise of influencer pods which offer a second chance to those who may not do so well in the influencer world all by themselves. Influencer pods are considered a shortcut and a dishonest way to gaining a following.
So, what exactly are influencer pods?
An influencer pod is at its most basic a forum that can be either private or public and is found mainly on platforms such as Facebook, Telegram and WhatsApp. On this forum, individuals work together to increase their social media following and engagement by exchanging likes, comments and follows. There are pods for many different groups and niches such as beauty, fashion, travel, fitness; or they may be a mix of several different types of people.
Rules and Guidelines
Since the pods are aimed at individuals who are looking to increase their social media following, every pod has its own set of guidelines and rules that all members are expected to follow; otherwise they will be banned from the group. These rules can vary among the pods, but they’re all usually based around the same ideas. This can be something like regulating the exchange of likes, comments and follows by setting rules for the number of daily likes, a follow-for-follow rule or various content limitations.
In most groups there will be a daily thread focusing on likes, follows or comments. The thread will be active for several hours and all members of the group can participate until the thread closes. All threads have their own guidelines and they can be created either by individuals within the group who are asking for likes or follows while promising to return the favor to anyone who participates, or they can be created by the group admins as a place for all members to promote their own pages and ask for likes or comments and let others know what they can expect in return.
Most Facebook influencer pods are public, so those who want to keep their participation in pods more private choose to use Telegram pods, as Telegram offers its users the ability to send messages on a heavily encrypted cloud-based server. The creation of a new Telegram pod is usually announced in Facebook or WhatsApp and the members are given instructions on how to join the new pod.
The new groups formed within Telegram pods have their own guidelines that all members are expected to follow. A common requirement for entry into a Telegram pod is for all members to follow the social media accounts of all admins. Additionally, most of these pods are focused on making the fake engagement look real, so they will have rules requiring comments to be a certain length and relevant to the post. This is because generic, one word comments are dead giveaway that an influencer is bartering or buying likes and comments. There are many rules in place in influencer pods designed to hide the evidence of dishonest activity.
The Harm of Influencer Pods
Influencer pods, although dishonest, may not seem so bad until you take into consideration that they’re in fact very similar to ad-fraud. The biggest victims of pods are brands and companies who are paying a large amount to someone who they think will help them reach their target audience. Many companies are willing to pay significant amounts of money to an influencer they think will have an impact, and this impact is often based on the follower number and engagement rate that influencer has. When the engagement and following are faked, the company is essentially being scammed.