I like to try things.  I like to talk about things.  I can’t very well talk about something if I haven’t tried it, right?  That would make it…. what do you call that?  Oh yeah… it would make he a huge wiener.  I have recently tried an “Instagram pod”.  What is an Instagram pod, you ask?  They’re these trendy little things that can actually send your potential clients in the direction of your competitors and no one has mentioned this before so I may as well shout it out for the world to hear.

I learned a really important lesson from being in an Instagram pod and here’s the story.

What is an Instagram pod?

An Instagram pod is when a group of individuals get together and try to “beat the Instagram algorithm” by interacting with each other frequently.  The idea behind it is that you get a group of 15 people (the max you can have in an Instagram DM thread) and whenever 1 person posts something, the other 14 will go and like the photo and leave a comment on the photo.  It’s supposed to help keep your image active and push it into the newsfeed (which is no longer entirely chronological) and can – ideally – help potential clients see you image.

So basically, when you’re in an Instagram pod, you’re going to be interacting with the same people over and over and over and over…….

The “You” Tab: Your Friend

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We all know what the You tab is.  It’s that thing we look at to see all of our personal notifications.  We use it all the time.  It’s part of our Instagram routine – log in and check your activity.  Who’s been liking your stuff?  Who liked a comment?  Who posted a comment?  Is it just your latest photo that been getting attention or is it some of your older photos too?  The “you” tab tells you who has been interacting with you.

There’s a little something next to your “you” tab tho… and boy oh boy, that tab can go straight to hell.

The “Following” Tab: aka “Please, check out my competitor instead!”

Not a lot of people use this tab.  I’ve read that younger people use this tab but that is you’re 26 or 27+ years old you’re not quite “millenial enough” to really give a hoot about it.  Just as the “you” tab tells YOU who is interacting WITH YOU the “Following” tab shows you what the people who you are following are doing and this is where being part of an Instagram tab with your competitors (albeit your friends) can inadvertently send potential clients right to your competitors.

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If a potential client follows you, you now appear on THEIR “following” list.  They can see “Oh, Ten·2·Ten Photography liked these 8 photos, I wonder what kind of stuff they like?” And voila, your potential client has now been directed to your competitor because you were interacting with them.

How did I figure this out?

I like to see where my clients are finding me so I have that on my contact form.  A lot of people find me through Instagram and that’s awesome!  Also, when I lose a client (either someone that doesn’t want to book a consult or who books a consult but then never secures me) I like to ask for feedback.  Not everyone is willing to fill out the teeny tiny survey, but for those who do, their feedback is priceless.  In the last few weeks, a lot of my inquiries have been saying “Instagram” when I asked how they found me.  Two of those brides (who found me on Instagram) were kind enough to provide feedback.  In that feedback form I ask them “Who else are you looking into right now?” and if they want to tell me who else is peeking their interest, they do.

And boom.  That’s when I saw it.

Each of these brides who found me from Instagram were both checking out other photographers who were also in my pod.  There’s a really good chance that I could have lead them there myself simply through my own Instagram footprints!  Our online presences are all very different; what are the odds that these two people ended up being where my lead went to?  Hmm…. I may never know for sure, but frankly, it’s too coincidental for my liking.  I’m all for supporting my friends and sharing leads with them when I’m booked… but not when I’m not booked.  That’s basic business y’all.

I reflected a little bit and spent some time exploring Instagram and once I realized how transparent the “Following” tab was… that was it.  I’m out of the pod.  There’s actually a few other reasons that I found the pod thing wasn’t for me, but that’s another article.

So you still want to go an Instagram pod, eh?

Good luck.  It’s a very trendy thing to do and it honestly takes up more time than it’s worth and if you already have a moderate following you’re going to see very little advantage in it and couple that with the fact that it might lead your inquiries right into your competition?  Well… if you’re cool with that then godspeed.  From what I learned, your Instagram pod should consist of other wedding professionals but not other wedding photographers (ie: not your freaking competition).  If you want to do a pod with other wedding photogs than make sure they live far away from you and aren’t in your geographical market.

Live and learn, right?