Updated: Jan 21, 2021
In my opinion, unless you have the most disruptive/innovative/captivating product or story, focusing on a cold audience is a waste of time and money. This is why most entrepreneurs who rely on trends and short-term focused products fail. They do not have enough time to establish a warm or loyal audience and must resort to targeting 'strangers'. So what do they need to convince people to buy from them? Social proof. (You can find another article I wrote about why this is so important here.)
If you can't gain social proof in the long term due to your business structure you have to resort to other strategies. This is where engagement groups come into play. Essentially, engagement groups are chats with a large number of participants that give and request forms of engagement from the other members. This can be as follows, likes, comments, shares, etc. Sounds great right? You give me a like, I give you a like. You follow, I follow. But this is one of the best ways of making sure you never build a loyal following on Instagram.
You see, the engagement you gain from these groups isn't real. They are real comments and likes from real accounts, but they aren't real. As in, genuine. When a potential customer goes to your profile and views a post, chances are they will view the comments if they are interested in your product or service. It's the same as reading reviews when shopping. Now imagine all of the comments went something like this:
"Awesome." "Great pic." "I love it!"
Would you still be interested? Probably not. These comments don't provide any value to you when making a buying decision and the same goes for your page visitors. If you have no genuine followers and engagement what makes you think you'll make a sale?
On top of that, you still have to give out the same amount of likes or comments that you receive, which can be extremely time-consuming once you're in several groups. For reference, when I was trying out engagement groups myself, my goal for one photo was to have at least 100 likes and anywhere from 10-20 comments. Guess what I had to do... Exactly.
So you know why it's not good for business (non-genuine engagement = little to no customers). How about for Instagram growth? Let's just say Instagram doesn't take too kindly to 'fake' engagement. Facebook (Insta's parent company) announced that it's been cracking down on bots, spam, and artificial engagement for quite some time now, meaning that all that time you spend writing and receiving phony comments is likely generating zero results. Remember it's a digital platform, but its users are real people.
Before this, you may have been tempted to use engagement groups as a get-popular-quick tactic. Hey, maybe you still want to use them. Do it at your own peril, knowing that it will never provide the results you need to build a successful business on social media. My advice? Build a strong brand by generating valuable content, and truly engage with multiple users and opinion leaders in your niche. There is no way around the work. Is it slower? Yes, but it's worth it and more importantly, it is real.