Timesaving on Instagram: The Best Scheduling Tools
To help you curate your Instagram feed better, you should aim to plan a week’s worth of content ahead. First, select all the photos you’d like to post over the following days and start organizing the order of release for visual continuity. Then write up the captions and prepare your hashtags. Such planning will make it easier to see and vary your hashtags, so you do not get “penalized” by Instagram for keeping on reusing the same hashtags, which looks “spammy.”
Once all this planning is done, you can either set time aside every day for posting or upload all in one go to a scheduling tool to be released over the coming days.
There are two main types of scheduling tool for Instagram: those that send a push notification to your phone at the chosen time to remind you to post directly, and those that will post for you.
Beware: Instagram has set out strict API requirements and does NOT allow for external apps to post on Instagram. There is also a risk associated with giving out your Instagram password to an external app.
If you are a “light” user of Instagram (i.e. you don’t post more than a few photos a week), there are several free options that will allow you to schedule easily. There are also several reputable tools (and a lot of new ones coming out) for heavier users and while they generally offer similar packages, there are different minor bells and whistles that might make one better suited to your needs.
Push Reminder Tools:
Buffer (free, with paid options from $10/month)
Offers free scheduling for one social account per platform for (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), letting you schedule 10 post at a time. If you want more posting options, the “Awesome” plan allows up to 10 social profiles and 100 scheduled posts for $10/month.
The free service does not offer analytics, but does measure the performance of your posts.
HootSuite (from $19/month)
Allows you to manage possibly the widest variety of social media feeds (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, as well as LinkedIn, YouTube, SoundCloud) from one platform.
Helps you see all your social media feeds in one place and also helps you monitor your competition from the dashboard. (On the downside, Hootsuite branding appears on every post)
It can suggest the best time for posting.
Later.com (free, with paid options from $9/month)
If your scheduling needs are basic, then the free option is good as it lets you post up to 30 photos a month (no video) for one social profile post.
You can plan from your mobile device or your desktop, upload and write up the captions, schedule and Later.com will send you a push notification when it’s time to post (the app does not post directly to Instagram).
There are some basic Free Analytics (similar to what you would get with an Instagram business account, though with a bit more detail). You will need to subscribe to the service for more bell and whistles and packages start at $9/month going all the way up to $49/month for unlimited posts for up to 5 social profiles.
Planoly (free, with paid options from $7/month)
Similar to Later, there is a free option for one account posting up to 30 photos a month.
A beautiful looking scheduler that allows you visualize what your grid will look like and to play around with the order of the photos easily.
Offers a Shop add-on (for $40/month)
TailWind (from $9.99/month)
Allows you to schedule to Pinterest and Instagram at the same time with easy drag-and-drop functionality.
Offers “smart schedule” functionality that recommends the optimal times to post for your Instagram account.
Suggests hashtags automatically; allows bulk image uploading, plus it has a drag-and-drop calendar.
Offers analytics and insights so you can see what's working and what's not.
SproutSocial (from $59/user/month)
Similar to Hootsuite, it allows you an all-in one management dashboard for multiple social media sites and accounts. Easier to use than HootSuite, but much more pricey.
Schedule and Forget
Theoretically, Instagram guidelines do not allow for third party posting, yet there are a few tools that have been in existence for a least three years that are managing to circumvent the rules (click to read ScheduGram’s explanations on how they’re doing this).
ScheduGram (from $20/month for 10,000 followers)
A paid-for tool, but it will post directly for you and allows you to tag people within your images
You can also upload multiple images at once, and can edit them (crop, filter, rotate) and post them immediately or schedule them for a later time.
Content creation and editing tools including Canva integration.
OnlyPult (from $8.40/month)
Similar to ScheduGram, they have a web interface for scheduling, but it’s a “reverse engineering” method (which could be considered slightly more risky vis a vis Instagram rules).
Optimization feature indicates the best time for future postings based on the reaction of your followers to your content.
Allows you to manage conversation directly from your desktop
Scheduling social media posts will save you time, but you should not rely on automation. Don’t forget to post Instagram Stories and offer Live posts of interesting events as these help add character that will make your feed more genuine and authentic.