Though many people don’t know it, there are a few ways you can schedule Instagram posts in advance. This is perfect if you don’t want to bombard your followers with 20 posts all at once, or if you want to post images from your hard drive or a URL.
Keep in mind though, that there are only a few quality, legitimate apps offering this feature. This is because Instagram is notoriously strict when it comes to allowing other apps to interact with the platform. While the Facebook and Twitter APIs allow third party apps to perform pretty much any task, Instagram keeps its third party integrations to a minimum.
This is one of the reasons why Instagram hasn’t yet been overrun by stupendous amounts of spammy, brand-oriented content.
What Instagram Allows You to Do
Instagram is crammed with cool features and hidden tools. But when it comes to scheduling Instagram posts via a third party app, there are some pretty tight restrictions. The main one being that when you schedule an Instagram post, it’s still you that has to share the photo on the app when the time comes. The app can’t do it for you. All the app can do is remind you to post the image.
With this in mind, be wary of companies such as Schedugram, Onlypult, and Instapult, who claim to post to Instagram on your behalf. The services offered by these companies may be fantastic, and they tend to work (usually by using emulators and in-house software). Yet the most likely outcome is that Instagram will one day cut off access to these apps. Worst case (and pretty unlikely) scenario; your account could be punished for using these apps.
When you hear the term “Instagram Scheduling” then, this is what it (legitimately) means — sending you a reminder to post the image. There are a number of reputable apps that offer this function. The top four are detailed below.
As a word of caution: if you manage more than one Instagram post, always double check you are signed into the correct Instagram account before clicking Share within the Instagram app.
An incredibly intuitive but powerful app, Buffer allows you to automatically schedule your social media updates to all the major social networks (including Instagram, obviously) in advance. If you’re using the free plan, you can schedule up to 10 posts for each social network. If you want more, you’ll have to upgrade.
Upload your photo or video to Buffer, write out your caption, add some popular emojis and hashtags, then schedule the post. When the time to post comes around, you’ll receive a notification from the Buffer app on your smartphone. Hit Open in Instagram, and the image along with the caption will be copied to Instagram ready for you to edit, tag people, and post.
With over 1 million users, Publish (free on Web, iOSAndroid, and as a Chrome extension) works in a similar way to Buffer, but you can only schedule to Instagram and Twitter.
Once you’ve prepared a post in Publish and selected which accounts you want the post to be sent to (Twitter and/or Instagram), you’re then given three options. You can either publish the post now, schedule it for a specific time, or have Publish pick a time for you. Publish claims its automatically-picked times are geared toward when most of your followers are online, though I was unable to verify how accurate this is.
When the time comes to post, you’ll be sent a reminder on your phone (provided you have installed the app). Click on the reminder, and Instagram will open, displaying your image. Your caption will have been copied to your clipboard ready to paste to Instagram.
Later is a platform more aimed at the professional marketer or Instagram power-user than the layperson.
On the free and paid accounts, you can bulk upload tons of media at once (including from Dropbox or Google Drive) ready to deal with later. Note that you can only schedule 30 posts per month on the free account.
From within Later, you can also search for other Instagram posts based on username or hashtag. Any posts you like can be saved to your media list, ready to be scheduled on your own account (get the authors permission first!)
A powerful social media management suite, Hootsuite is used by over 10 million professionals. With their free account, you can manage up to three profiles, including Instagram. If you need to manage more accounts than that, you’ll have to upgrade to the $10 per month plan.
Once you’ve signed in, add your Instagram profile to your dashboard. During this process, you’ll give permission to Hootsuite to send push-notifications to your phone (from the Hootsuite app). You’re now ready to compose and schedule your photo or video post.
When the scheduled time comes, click on the push notification. This will open the Hootsuite app where you can make any final changes to the post. Then click Open in Instagram to copy that information across to the Instagram app. The image will display automatically, the caption will be copied to your phone’s clipboard ready to paste. make any final adjustments (such as applying a filter), then publish the post.
Hootsuite is great, but if you’re a social media manager looking to manage a large number of profiles, an alternative is Agorapulse. It’s slightly more user friendly, offers similar features, but comes in at a hefty $50 per month.
Making Instagram Easier to Manage
I’ve tested each of the apps mentioned in this article, and they all worked like a charm. Which you choose to use will of course depend on your budget, how much of an Instagram-power user you are, and how many social media profiles you want to manage.