Let’s face it: Instagram requires a lot of work. To succeed, you’re expected to live and breathe the platform 24/7.
But what if I told you about tools that don’t require a 24/7 commitment but make it seem like you operate the account all day and night.
Ever since Instagram opened its API to developers in its marketing partner program, third-party apps allow you to schedule Instagram posts. Let’s go through seven of them.
Before you begin
To use Instagram direct publishing tools, you need to know a couple things.
First, you must activate a business profile on Instagram. A verified business can access useful features – analytics, advertising opportunities, and, of course, a chance to let third-party apps publish your content.
Second, remember not all content is created equal – therefore, not all content can be scheduled the same way. Due to the limitations with Instagram’s new API, the scheduling tools publish only those posts (images and videos) with Instagram’s acceptable aspect ratio. (An aspect ratio describes the ratio between width and height [e.g., 4:5], and can be converted into a numerical value by dividing width by height [4/5 = 0.8].)
If your content fails to fit the dimension criteria, its automated scheduled post will include a reminder to fix it. (Traditional square Instagram images [1:1] can be automatically published as normal.)
The pioneer of Instagram analytics, Iconosquare offers an automatic scheduler with extra add-ons such as an integrated media library (to store your content), a social media calendar (to remind you of days like National Pizza Day), and the best time to post feature, which has yellow stars showing the most optimal time to post to get maximum engagement.
Iconosquare allows you to automate both single-image posts and videos.
Another great feature that Iconosquare offers is cropping. You can edit images (within the permissible aspect ratio) as you upload them into the scheduler, which can be a truly time-saving hack.
Pricing: Starting at $29/month
Later’s scheduler is amazing. It’s simple to use: Drag any media from your library into the publishing calendar – the scheduler window pops up immediately. You can write a caption, tag other accounts, geolocate your post, and take advantage of the built-in hashtag suggestions (available for premium plans).
Type in a hashtag and Later comes up with a list of 25 related hashtags to tick and insert into your caption. The hashtags are high volume, but you likely can find some useful long(er)-tail hashtags.
Pricing: Free to $49/month
If you use the social network account manager Buffer and aren’t looking for an advanced Instagram scheduler, it doesn’t have any add-ons, but it’s easy to use.
Set up your Buffer account for direct scheduling on Instagram and queue your content as you always do for another social media account. Buffer publishes it at the indicated time without any reminders or notifications.
Pricing: Free to $399/mo
4. Zoho Social
Zoho’s direct Instagram scheduler is as straightforward as Buffer’s: clean design, easy-to-use functionality.
What makes Zoho different from Buffer is the integrated calendar on the right, which gives a clearer date overview. In addition, Zoho allows you to quickly switch between multiple Instagram accounts, which is useful for agencies that manage several brand profiles.
Pricing: $8.33/month to $125/month
Sendible is another great tool that allows you to schedule and publish posts directly to Instagram, avoiding the path of constant reminders and notifications. As of January, Sendible supports direct video publishing for Instagram (up to 100 megabytes). The tool also lets you publish to a large selection of other social media networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
Pricing: $24/month to $274/month
Known for its sleek and elegant design, Planoly has a sleek and elegant Instagram scheduler. Add new media to its calendar from your computer, click on the media in the calendar, and the scheduling window appears automatically. Insert the caption, tag users and geotag locations, and make sure to enable the auto-post feature in the scheduler.
Pricing: Free to $199/month
7. Sprout Social
Directly publish images or videos on Instagram by using Sprout’s compose window, where you simply choose whether you want to publish your content now, queue it for later, schedule it manually, or save as a draft:
Pricing: From $99/month to $249/month
The trick to scheduling on Instagram is to experiment with the tools and find the one that fits your needs. The ultimate benefit is keeping your Instagram profile up to date without the hassle of responding to smartphone reminders.
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Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute