There are times when I get massively sad and disillusioned with blogging. I’m in one of these lulls at the moment. This place is creaking around to its 9th year, and I’ve actually been blogging in one form or other since 2003/4. I’m an old grumpy man of blogging – it’s true. I’m pleased with how many people come here, each day, and read stuff. However, am I successful at it?

No. I don’t think I am.

The thing is – I don’t really ‘play the game’ like newer bloggers. I’m not ‘PR Friendly’, I’ll happily be rude to people on social media rather than appear all sweetness and light. I try not to have every aspect of my life sponsored by brand tags and hash tags. I just bash out words – hit publish and hope someone will read.

However, success isn’t really measured in how well you write – or how regular your readership is. It’s completely, and utterly a numbers game. The more comments, likes, RTs and followers is King (or Queen). Because Facebook, Instagram and Twitter aren’t working in a chronological order now – it’s more important to be seen – by any means possible. Each platforms have algorithms to try and display popular and relevant content. However, these are open to ‘cheating’, and it’s clear bloggers like to try and cheat the system to make sure their content is pushed higher and higher.




Pods

The most popular way of getting stuff out there now are ‘Pods’. These are little closed groups of people that share content, and the rest of the group has to like / comment (and occasionally re-share) in a short amount of time. You return the favour to the rest of your group as ‘payment’. The surge of ‘interest’ in a post fools the Social Network into thinking that this post is getting a lot of traction and might be of interest to others. This could then mean it’s bumped up, and pushed into ‘Trending Now’ sections etc. Pods are often small – 10-15 people – however, as many are, in multiple pods, your post can have hundreds of Likes, Comments and Shares in a matter of hours.

I tried out an Instagram pod to try and see how and if it would work.. And fuck me – yes it does work! All the posts I shared to the pod got a lot more interaction and shares than I ever had before. However, it just felt – dirty. The comments were just stuff like ‘Great photo’ – ‘I must try this’ etc. The Pod members didn’t really have time, or inclination to really like my filtered photo, because they had to go and like and comment on another xx amount more. I felt myself leaving similar comments because I had a stream of similar pictures to whizz through. I didn’t care about the content – I just wanted to fulfil my obligations and move on. Whilst likes and comments look great on paper – the reality is – it’s not authentic. At all.

Pods take place in Group DMs on Instagram, Hidden Facebook Groups and WhatsApp convos. It’s like hundreds of secret societies hidden out of view, members scratching backs in return for a scratch on theirs.. It just feels so dirty and seedy. Even calling them something cuddly like a ‘Blogger Support Group’ doesn’t distract from the fact it’s just a way of cheating the system.

“But it’s great being in a pod – I get to find so much content I wouldn’t normally find”

Ahhh – the stock reply of someone in a pod when asked why they do it – I call…

BULLSHIT!
BULLSHIT!

If you’re looking for new and exciting content, look at who your friends follow – click on hashtags you’re interested in. There is so much out there if you actually LOOK. People are in pods for one simple reason – to push their content and manipulate the system – not to read stuff.

Botting

Popular on Instgram, botting is an even lazier way of getting likes, comments and followers. You can pay a botting service to go on a 24/7 commenting and liking rampage using your Instagram account. It will like and comment on pictures using the hashtags you add to your images (you can add up to 49 on Instagram pictures!) The theory is that people will actually spot you liking their stuff and return the favour, and then possibly follow you back. It’s incredibly easy to see who is botting on Instagram – even the most honest of folk seem to be doing it. All the hashtags and likes for the most banal of pictures, and their accounts spewing out the same. There’s an excellent post on PetaPixel about how Botting works and more importantly, why Instagram don’t care about it.

What chance do we have?

If you’re not willing to be in a Pod, or ‘Bot’ you way to the top – what chance do you have? The answer is – who knows?! Sure, your posts and pictures won’t get to the top of everyone’s feeds. You won’t have the tens of thousands of followers of your peers. However, the comments you have on your posts will be more than ‘I really enjoyed reading this’. Your Instagram won’t be full of ‘Great Picture’ and your Tweets might not appear in the ‘What you have Missed’ section. However, what you do write will be seen by those who want to read it – you’ll be double-tapped by those who enjoy you. You can ‘buy’ likes, comments and shares – either paying cash, or returning the favour in a pod.

One thing, you can’t buy – is authenticity. Be authentic and you’ll get your chance.

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