Social Media Comment Pods
At this point you may well be thinking “What are comment pods? Why should I even care what they are?”. As musicians and bands are probably the most common users of social media comment pods and as they are very possibly feeling the effects of comment pods without knowing it, it really is about time you understood what they are, how you can spot them and why they are so harmful to you. At least then you might be able to do something about them.
Table of Contents
What Are Comment Pods?
An engagement pod or comment pod was the name originally given to a group of Instagram users that join together to like and comment on each other’s posts. The aim for pod members is to get greater reach. Each time you post you then share a post link with members of your pod, who then like and comment on the post. This artificially increases the reach of that post.
Similar ways of working together exist on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. On other platforms sharing and quoting and even tagging are added to like and comment as ways of boosting reach.
Of course, whenever anyone posts they hope others will like, comment or share their post. The issue is with prior agreement and the liking, commenting or sharing content even when it is not content they like or otherwise want to engage with.
Are Comment Pods A Good Idea?
Comment pods are a bad idea. Period.
I get it. It seems like a good idea. Mutual support of each other appears to amplify your voice… but does it really? There are a few myths out there that we can get rid of pretty quickly. You need only understand the very basic principles of the way that social media algorithms work, to see a number of common artist habits that are a really bad idea.
Social media companies have spent millions upon millions investing in their algorithms. They do this so that their software can work out what you like, what you are interested in. They do it so their software can work out what others like about you and what they find interesting about you.
Social Media Algorithms And Bands
If algorithms are there to detect activity types and trends, profiling each and every user, sometimes with tens of thousands of data points per user, you have to ask yourself one simple question.
“What do you think algorithms detect about you and your activity?”
If those algorithms classmates you within certain groups, how do you think that affects your music promotion?
Example 1, if you are put in the friends and family group, then you might find your new posts being displayed to friends and family and little else. From that the algorithms might determine that your songs have very little following within set music genres (because friends and family have diverse tastes) and inspires little interest out with your friend and family group. As a result it determines to show posts about your music to more friends and family only!
Example 2, if you are placed within a comment pod of fellow artists, then you might well find your music posts are only being displayed to other people in your pod. People who there is a very good chance are not actually fans of your music. As a result (assuming the activity is not classed as black-hat) your music posts are largely shown to other people in the pod… with no particular music taste, who may or may not actually like your music. You may be within a pod that is very genre specific, but they still might not be fans of your music.
In example 2, you might think that you would get away with being in a pod if your posts are shown to some people outside your immediate pod. Unfortunately the engagement with your posts is completely false, manufactured. It gives you no real idea of the true popularity of your work.
The same is true for the algorithm. Instead, the algorithm is likely to see that there was an immediate popular response within your pod with a very good chance that it then ran out of steam, producing a much poorer response when shown to new, un-pod-related people. As a result the social platform immediately down-votes your content showing it to few new people.
When it comes to understanding you, your appeal, your likes and taste, Social Media sites look at everything you do. It isn’t just hashtags. It is titles, descriptions, posts, private messages or direct messages, images, the sites you link to… even the words you use in the videos you upload.
The Content You See
When assessing the content of others, those algorithms try to work out what you like, and show you more of that. They adapt trying to show you what is trending based on your likes, your comments and your shares. If you like, comment and share a load of music you don’t actually like, or music you might never have even listened to, then pretty quickly they start showing you similar content, clogging your feed with… trash. At least, trash to you.
In the first wave you engage with people in your pod, because they are within your pod. The second wave is simple. They show your content to similar people, who you engage with if they are within your pod (generally in a very low quality way) or you completely ignore. Let’s face it, even the people within your pod don’t get much engagement. The overall message is that you are interested in content from your pod and little else. The result? They show you content mainly from your pod.
The problem is, when you take part in comment pods, it gives those algorithms a false impression of your interests. It tells them who you want to hear from, and what you want to hear about. If you are in a comment pod, that is not really what you are interested in. It is not who you are genuinely interested in.
The Content You Show
When working out which of your content to show other people, algorithms use popularity to determine who to show your content to next. That might be within personal streams or within trend streams. The result is the same. The first wave, people from a diverse range of backgrounds and interests might like your song and then… it goes nowhere.
They then try to work out the common data points linking you and those who responded and they find… that you are all independent artists. So guess who they show your content to? As they expect a poor response from them they show it to only a few. As they expect no response from anyone else, they don’t even show it to anyone else. Combining the two they pretty quickly reduce it down to showing your nice shiny new posts to other artists in your pod and no one else.
That doesn’t really stack up to your music marketing aims for your music, does it?
Matching Social Platforms With Activity And Content
If you find social media is great for finding other artists when logged in as an artist, then your activities are very likely damaging your chances of reaching a genuine audience for your music. I generally find that although you might find other artists and writers, the platforms themselves are very poor for threaded discussion. They tend to be a nightmare for finding older content that you might have interacted with before.
I might be a little biased here, but that is where using forums for communicating with other artists wins hands down.
That aside, a lot of artists who find they interact with a lot of fellow artists on social media often start using it as a critique platform… which instantly ruins it as a way to talk to fans. As a critique platform social media sucks. It is a nightmare finding older critique comments. It also introduces an amateur hour feel to your artist profile from a fan perspective. If you want critique, use critique sites…. https://forums.songstuff.com .
In general don’t pull back the curtain on a behind the scenes view unless it is a highly stage managed behind the scenes view. If you want to talk to fellow artists, exchange views on being an artist, discuss how you engage with other artists, then use Songstuff and the Songstuff Community or other similar sites.
There are some Facebook groups, but yet again they have the issue of finding old content and the standard of interaction. Many posts are just creating an informal comment pod and yet again reinforce the idea that your audience is other artists. If you use such groups, if you meet anyone you want to keep interacting with, take them to a musician site like the Songstuff Community where you can better interact with them, away from direct social media algorithms.
As an artist you want to be showing your best content to listeners and potential listeners. Even if you show behind the scenes content, pick good, flattering, managed behind the scenes content. Keep the magic for listeners. Only talk shop, and discuss early versions of songs out of the limelight for potential listeners. In other words, don’t talk shop from your artist account on social media.
Single Accounts Per Platform
The whole issue is made much worse when some artists insist on doing everything within one account on each platform. It mixes together listener activities, with artist promotion and comment pod type activities. It creates a very confusing profile for the algorithms. Friends. Family. Pod. Low engagement on many music topics out with a small number of people within that pod.
A Single Bet
Often artist activity can just be within just one platform, putting all their eggs into one basket with one platform, one account. If your account is suspended, banned, shadow-banned… you are stuffed. If they change their policies and purpose for their site, you may also find that your account becomes useless.
How Are Comment Pod Activities Viewed And Treated?
How do social networks view comment pods? They are “black hat”. Activity they frown upon. A very short step away from a click farm. A click farm, illegal in most countries, is where one person or company uses a number of cell phones or tablets to automatically click on content, be that likes, comments or shares, from a number of accounts. One individual might be monitoring up to 100 cell phones or tablets. With comment pods you have something similar spread across a number of collaborating individuals.
Some artists think that as long as they are not banned, that they are getting away with it. What about shadow banning? All they need do is put you in an echo chamber with your fellow algorithm-wreckers and that is it. Problem contained. The truth is they don’t even need to do much because the actions of those using comment pods create their own echo chambers where effectively they talk to themselves and nobody else anyway.
Once upon a time you might have got away with such activities, but now you stand little chance. Once marked, you are marked. Getting a reputation is pretty easy. Changing it can be a hell-of-a hard. Not impossible, but far from easy.
What Should I Do?
- Where it fits in with terms of service, use multiple accounts or specific pages/profiles.
- Create different accounts (or dedicated pages) for interacting as an artist
- Create an account you will use for music as a listener
- Optionally you might want to create a dedicated music promotion account. That way if anything gets in trouble hopefully your artist account will remain intact
- Use multiple social platforms.
- Social Media
- Use specific interest platforms for those specific interests.
- Songstuff for music, music creation, recording, production, critique, designing music promotion
- forums have much better features for the kind of activities artists need to tlk to each other than social media
- Social media has much better features for promotion to an end audience than a forum does
- Songstuff, SSUK, IMS and Playlist submission sites for playlists
- Use social platforms for promotion activities
- Songstuff for music, music creation, recording, production, critique, designing music promotion
- From personal profiles, like, share and comment on content you genuinely like
- From your artist profiles focus on interacting with people and groups who like your kind of music, share and promote your kind of music, especially when their natural audience is your desired audience!
- From a promotion profile, reach out via music interest groups, grow your target audience reach and act as a go between for your artist account
- Clean house. If your profile is contaminated with the wrong follow and followers, you need to correct it. In some cases you can review your posts to bring it up to spec.
How Best To Interact On Social Media?
Engaging With Other Individuals/Personal Accounts
As an Individual, Musician, or Writer… feel free to interact. Follow, like, comment, share and tag. Talk about anything you like.
As an Artist? Interact with at a low level with people who are very unlikely to be fans, and at a high level with people who you think are interested in your music or interested in the genre of music you write. Like and comment but avoid their tags and don’t share. Don’t follow accounts not of benefit to your account. At all times try to reach out to people and groups who like artists similar to yourself, people you think will be interested in your music. Talk about your music and things related to your music such as your artist news.
Engaging With Other Artist Accounts
As an Individual, Musician, or Writer… feel free to interact. Follow, like, comment, share and tag. Talk about their music and your music. Support the music of artists you actually like. If you want to help spread the word about an artist that is not your taste, but you want to help, do it in a back channel such as a personal message or email.
As an Artist? Keep interaction to an absolute minimum, if not avoid entirely, with the exception of other artists in your genre whose fans are likely to like your music. Like and comment but avoid their tags and don’t share. Don’t follow such accounts from your artist account. If you must respond, then snapshot their post and include the photo. Where you do include a name-check using “@”, only do so for a very small number of artists whose music is very like your own in style and there is a high likelihood of their fans will see your message. Try to keep conversation about your own music.
Engaging With Accounts For Sites Like Songstuff
As an Individual, Musician, or Writer… it directly reflects your interest, so interact away. Follow, like, comment, share and tag. If you are interviewed as a musician, writer or artist, like, share, comment and tag. Talk about anything musical, especially your music. Follow/Like their blogs, playlists and other accounts (such as Spotify profile, SoundCloud profile, YouTube channels). Support the music of artists you actually like. If you want to help spread the word about an artist that is not your taste, but you want to help, do it in a back channel such as a personal message or email.
As an Artist? Keep interaction to a low percentage of your interactions overall. Don’t follow many such accounts from your artist account or follow-back, just sites you actually use and appreciate. Don’t ignore, but don’t encourage either. Like a reply to your post, but avoid sharing, commenting or using their tags apart from a small number of sites you actually use. Where you do include a name-check using “@”, only do so for a very small number of such sites, enough to keep on good terms with such sites.
Focus on interacting on their site (if they have a community), networking, collaborating, getting critique and taking advantage of promotion opportunities. Follow/Like their blogs, playlists and other accounts (such as Spotify profile, SoundCloud profile, YouTube channels).
Engaging With Accounts For Sites Like Songstuff U.K., Independent Music Stage, Music Bloggers, Ezines, Curators Etc.
As a Personal Account/Listener, follow, like, comment, share, tag and name-check. Follow/Like their blogs, playlists and other accounts (such as Spotify profile, SoundCloud profile, YouTube channels). Support the music of artists you actually like. If you want to help spread the word about an artist that is not your taste, but you want to help, do it in a back channel such as a personal message or email.
As an Artist, or Band Member, like, comment, share, tag and name-check where you are featured, where you are interacting with your fans or potential fans. If you want to help spread the word about an artist that is not your taste, but you want to help, do it in a back channel such as a personal message or email.
As an Individual, Musician or Writer: follow, like, comment, share, tag and name-check. Follow/Like their blogs, playlists and other accounts (such as Spotify profile, SoundCloud profile, YouTube channels). Support the music of artists you actually like. If you want to help spread the word about an artist that is not your taste, but you want to help, do it in a back channel such as a personal message or email.
If you follow these guidelines it should help keep your artist profile and activities cleaner, allowing social media algorithms to start showing your activities to your target audience and stop flooding your feed with unhelpful messages. Importantly, it will free up time interacting with the wrong people (in promotion terms) in the wrong place. Be aware that the change is likely to take some time to really take effect.
You should create any needed accounts/profiles/pages you might need going forward. In some cases (where you have a single integrated personal account) you would be best to create dedicated artist accounts and profiles. Where you have a contaminated artist account you should clean it up, updating your follow and in networks that allow it, followers.
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