Nosy Marketing

October 29, 2020
// Alex Watts

Don’t Be a Victim of PP (Pod Punishment)

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Before we start, I just want to preface this with a disclaimer; I have absolutely violated, broken, found loopholes in and bent rules on EVERY Social Media network. I’m a tinkerer by nature and find a lot of enjoyment in finding the line. So when I bring up the Do & Do Not of the Internet, it’s usually coming after a 30-day ban for doing some of them.

What is a POD?

A ‘Pod’ is a universal term for a collective of users in some kind of agreement, be it in a WhatsApp group, Slack channel or wherever, that when one of them makes a post – the rest will rush in to like, comment and engage with that post to drive visibility. Usually within a short period of time.

Most Social Networks have begun altering their algorithm to detect frequent and regular engagement patterns from Pods. When I bring this up in seminars or groups, I usually get slightly concerned replies from smaller networks – usually along the lines of:

“We’re a small town / village / network – are we damaging the posts by engaging daily?’

The answer is quite simple; ONLY if the same people are liking and commenting within a short period of time after a post goes live. Let’s say I have 10 people in my Slack channel. After I have made a post, 7/9 of that group jump on it within minutes to engage. Later another member of the group makes a post – and 8 or so from the group jump in, and it goes on like that for a while.

LinkedIn’s algorithm will detect that these 10 people comment, engage and communicate incredibly close together, frequently and without any interruption to that pattern. In reply, it will actively reduce the visibility of that post to lower than it would have been if NO likes or comments were happening. This pattern will leave a temporary marker on your name – meaning the algorithm will begin to pre-empt your attempts to force engagement and show it to fewer and fewer people.

From the algorithm’s point of view – if it is actively holding back your post – but the same 10 people are engaging, all members of the group will find themselves with significantly reduced visibility in organic feeds.

Small communities absolutely exist. As large as mine is, I would estimate around 50-60 people are in my daily feed. We should absolutely engage with posts, but it has to be from an organic place. Conversations do happen in several hundred long comment threads, with many people involved and that is 100% a GREAT thing – but if it’s the same 10 people having the conversations 3 minutes after a post went live – those posts will slowly become echo chambers for those 10 people.

Avoid pod punishment like so:

  • Don’t HAVE a Pod, duh.
  • Let the post breathe organically for an hour or so.
  • Vary your replies. ‘Great post! / ‘Thanks for this *name*!’ 20 times a day is going to flag.

Want to know more about Social Media and how to break it? Stay tuned!

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