In the landscape of social media and influencer marketing, there’s a lot of chatter about fake followers, buying followers, falsely inflating follower counts, bots and other ways to dodge algorithm changes.
It casts influencer marketing in a negative light, and it causes our clients (and their legal teams) to worry and wonder whether their marketing dollars are being spent effectively. At Soapbox, our stance is to proactively tackle the practices and policies that aren’t effective and ethical and to work collaboratively with our clients to build campaigns that work.
So, what is a pod?
Usually it’s a group on social media that agrees to like, share or comment on each other’s recent posts to “prove” to the algorithm within the first hour or so that this is a popular post worth serving up to others. It helps the post “stay alive” longer and drive more impressions and engagements, although the impressions and engagements are not worth much… and won’t drive results.
What isn’t a pod?
Groups that exist to casually share each other’s content from time to time when and if they wish – and not with aggressive, predetermined rules intended to “trick” the algorithms – are not pods. These groups are based on genuine, shared interests and connections. Tailwind tribes and link parties are not pods – because people are only sharing information they come across and find interesting or relevant (kind of like any social media platform).
What is the big deal?
Pods are designed to get around a rule. They falsely inflate likes, cause inaccurate engagement rates and allow individuals to take a shortcut to something that others are working hard to do the right way. It’s the equivalent of cheating on your test in the influencer world.
What is Soapbox doing to combat pods?
Our team has clear hiring and vetting processes when assessing influencers to work on our campaigns. By hand-selecting for every job, reviewing an influencer’s platforms and looking at metrics such as engagement rates, our team is able to suss out individuals who might be less than genuine with their tactics on social media.
We also know that pods were originally considered a viable tactic – and many trustworthy influencers dipped their toes in the water and quickly realized that pods are unwieldy, ineffective and unethical. We have practices in place to help an influencer recover their good name and regain trust. However: we have a no tolerance policy for active pod users and purchased followers. If an influencer wants to use those tactics, it’s their right: but they will not be hired for our campaigns. We serve our clients with effective, high-engagement, results-oriented campaigns that are fueled by influencers who are diligently working to build their brands, drive authentic conversations and help companies build social proof.
Bottom line: Soapbox – like any influencer company worth their salt – asks that influencers hired for our campaigns agree not to participate in pods and confirm that they have not purchased followers. So if an influencer wants to work with us, they can’t do it. Period.