Becoming a real influencer is not an easy game to play. Not everyone can organically build an audience of like-minded individuals and be regarded as a thought leader. Still, everyone can try. And when some realize the influencer cards might not be in their favor there are other options: Influencer Pods. 

Influencer pods are public and private forums, mainly found on Facebook, WhatsApp, and Telegram, where individuals exchange likes, follows, and comments in order to increase their social media presence. Each pod has their own set of guidelines that members must adhere to (i.e. number of daily likes, content limitation, follow for follow). Members of pods range from Beauty, Travel, Fashion, and even the Adult Entertainment industries, all exchanging engagement to give the illusion of influence. 

What Happens In the Pods 

Every pod has a set a guidelines that members must follow, or they will be banned. Below is the description and guidelines of a popular Facebook pod called “Instagram Follow/Like/Comment Pod”.

Everyday the group has a comment or like thread, which closes at a specific hour. The thread has clear guidelines, and is aimed to help everyone in the group grow their following. And, pods members promote their own page, asks for likes and comments, and promise to return the favor.

Telegram Pods 

Those who choose to keep their pod activity on the private side often turn to Telegram, due to the ability to send messages using a heavily encrypted, cloud-based server. Often users will announce the creation of a telegram influencer pod on Facebook, and give instructions on how to join:

Within telegram, these groups have their own set of rules that members must follow. Often, a main entry criteria is to follow the social media accounts of admins. Below are rules from a girls only telegram pod called “Girls Support Girls -24H Likes <3”. This pod requires comments to be 4+ words and relevant. Often, fake or bartered comments will maintain a neutral and irrelevant nature like “pretty” or “nice”, and can indicate whether a user’s following is real. Actions like this are to carefully hide dishonest practices.

Are Influencer Pods the New Ad-Fraud? 

So, who really suffers from influencer pods? Brands. Companies are willing to dish out some serious cash for influencers they believe will impact their target audience. Yet, when most influencers are only judged on their follower count, it’s hard to thoroughly assess the engagement capabilities of a potential partner. 

Think back to click-farms, where low-paid workers would sit and click on ads and links to alter a website’s traffic and value. Over time it’s been understood that these tactics benefit no one.  Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube even enforced purges of fake engagement. As more brands embrace influencer marketing as a strategic channel, it will be interesting to see how social giants and advertising platforms responds to these dark tactics. 

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