Instagram pods are the latest rage on Instagram. Influencers are fighting Instagram’s algorithm with pods, so their posts can be seen in your feed.
Instagram has become a big business for brands and users. Instagram has a created another marketing avenue with its platform. Brands are buying advertising space on influencers’ accounts and it’s creating an incentive for influencers to boost their numbers in hopes for sponsorships. Instagram Pods are a creative way to boost an influencers’ engagement numbers.
After Instagram switched their timeline, smaller Influencers engagement has significantly dropped. It’s harder for smaller accounts post to be seen by their followers. Users have gotten clever with ways to combat the lower engagement with forming Instagram pods.
Instagram Pods are group chats where members help each other out by commenting and liking other members’ posts in hopes to boost their engagement numbers. There is nothing wrong with creating a community to support its citizens. It creates an awesome opportunity to network within your niche. I have friends who are apart of pods. For the most part, they said it’s a great place to meet like-minded people.
However, there’s an issue with Instagram Pods. Some Influencers charge brands based on engagement. For example, a dollar for a comment and 0.50 cent for a like. There’s an ethical issue when Influencers are pod members. They’re essentially inflating their ‘likes’, ‘comments’, and distorting their influence for financial gain. Is it fraud?
The Google definition clearly states what is fraud. Does it apply in this situation?
Firstly, there is a financial or personal gain if influencers are paid based on engagement. Secondly, the wrongful or criminal deception is determined by intent. Is there a wrongful or criminal deception involved? Well, there is deception because they have people designated to boost their engagement. However, wrongful or criminal could be determined by a simple disclosure. What is that disclosure?
A simple disclosure to the partner brand(s) would suffice. The disclosure would show influencers were not trying to wrongfully or criminally deceive their partner brand(s). It would show the influencer was forthcoming and there wasn’t any malice involved. However, in my opinion, a non-disclosure could be considered fraud.
There are many articles regarding the benefits of joining an Instagram pod. I raised this question to a few influencer friends with a decent following on Instagram. They all participate in pods. Their opinions were mixed with half believing the influencer was committing fraud if he/she didn’t disclose it. The other half said he/she wasn’t. Unfortunately, there has not been a court case or much discussion about the topic. It’s something to think about when charging brands based on engagement.
Learn how influencers can protect themselves here.
*This isn’t legal advice. It’s a discussion topic since the influencer market has boomed in the recent years.