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3D illustration of influencer icons on a smartphone for our blog about influencer pods

Influencer Pods: Secret Communities For Becoming A Fake Influencer

Mark Jackson

Jan 10, 2024

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.

Tip: Learn how to quickly spot fake influencers, and learn more about fake followers, and influencer fatigue.

What Are Influencer Pods?

Influencer pods are public and private forums, mainly found on Facebook, WhatsApp, and Telegram, where individuals exchange likes, follows, and comments to increase their social media presence. Each pod has its 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 Influencer Pods?

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

Screenshot of an influencer pod group

Every day 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. Pod members promote their page, ask for likes and comments, and promise to return the favor.

Screenshot of a post within an influencer pod group

What Are 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:

Screenshot of instructions on how to join a fashion Telegram pod group

Within Telegram, these groups have their own set of rules that members must follow. Often, the 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 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 respond to these dark tactics.

Tip: Learn how the Meltwater Influencer Marketing Suite can help you identify real influencers by filling out the form below: