LinkedIn and Engagement Pods: What are they and how do they work?

Rodney Ferro, LinkedIn Marketing & Digital Consultant at PN Digital (Digital Content and Media Sponsor at this year's conference), writes below on how to maximise your impact on LinkedIn, either from a business or personal viewpoint.  Rodney will be running a LinkedIn workshop at CCA's 2019 Annual Conference and providing one-on-one marketing advice.

Recently, the topic of engagement pods has been popping up frequently here at PN Digital. Since we look after a range of LinkedIn accounts, both for businesses and personal profiles, it’s certainly something we’re aware of, and like to discuss the place they have on the platform. We’ve seen engagement pods take off on Instagram and Facebook, with Instagram pods working so well that the app has recently outlawed pods to stop users from hacking the algorithm. So, what does this mean for the future of engagement pods on LinkedIn?

For those who don’t know, engagement pods are made up of a group of individuals, or, in this case, LinkedIn members who have created a ‘pod’ or group to help each other generate engagement. When one member puts up a post on LinkedIn, they will message the group and ask members to engage with the post, usually in the form of a comment or like, which will hopefully be reciprocated for each member. The aim of this is to build engagement on the member’s post within the first 30-60 minutes of posting, where hopefully it will appear at the top of people’s feed when they open LinkedIn.

If you’re a business owner or person looking to promote your brand and increase awareness through eyeballs and numbers, I think pods are great. LinkedIn continues to notice and push highly engaged posts to the top of the algorithm, and by engaging with pods, you’re giving your content that initial boost of engagement that it needs to get noticed.

On the other hand, if you’re looking at engagement pods from a sales and lead generation point, you’ve got to question the pod you belong to. For example, if you’re a B2B person wanting to generate leads from LinkedIn, and you’re in a pod where there might be finance people, insurance people, or people who are in un-related industries, then you’re going to start questioning your place in the pod. Remember, Marketing 101 asks “where is your target audience? Where do they live? Where are they engaging?” When the people in your pod engage with your content, the content will be shown to more people within their network – if they are an accountant, then it is likely that their network is made up predominantly of other accountants. If accountants aren’t your target audience then it may not be worthwhile staying in that pod.

My advice would be if you’re thinking about joining a pod, talk to them first. Ask them some key questions about their networks and connections and think about whether they are your target market. Think about your own business goals, and what value getting your content in front of those people will give you – if there is no clear answer to that question, then it’s probably not a good idea to join. Find (or create!) a pod that will give you access to a network of people that consists largely of your target audience. Personally, I wouldn’t join an engagement pod if there’s no close correlation to my target audience, or if I’m looking to generate leads from LinkedIn.

On LinkedIn, you treat your database and connections as your audience, probably as you did with email marketing where sometimes, you must clean out your database. If you think about pods in the same way, if you find you’re already part of a pod and it’s not working, maybe it’s time to clean out those LinkedIn connections and think about your place in the pod.

Overall, I think it’s important for people to think about what they’re getting into before they do it, as it could have a negative impact on your account. However, I know everyone has different viewpoints on this, so I’d love to hear what you have to say.