In June 2016, Instagram announced that it now has over 500 million users, over 300 million of whom are active everyday. That's a lot of cute pets and fancy burgers!
If Instagram isn't already part of your social media marketing, it's time to reconsider. The number of companies joining Instagram is growing rapidly, because it makes it easy for businesses to share their company stories and brand identities through visual content.
Whether it's through the platform's interface or a third-party app, companies and users can carefully craft Instagram posts to suit their social media strategies. Instagram focuses on the "what's happening now," so real-time posting is the ideal, but it doesn't work well for everyone.
We all live busy lives, and some of us manage multiple Instagram accounts. If you're juggling your own posts with those for your company's Instagram account, being able to schedule posts in advance would make things about 1,000 times easier.
Although Instagram now allows posting from third-party apps, it doesn't have a native scheduling feature. Here are a couple of tools you can use for scheduling posts on Instagram, and best of all they're free. LOVE IT!
With Later (formerly Latergramme), you can schedule up to 30 posts per month for free with the mobile app or through the web browser. The big selling point of Later is that it lets you bulk upload and store images, while most other solutions pull directly from your camera roll or require you to upload the image when you post.
It also allows you to search and repost through the app, as well as schedule tweets—convenient if you'll be sharing the same images to Twitter.
You can also upgrade to one of their premium plans to schedule and manage more posts accross multiple accounts, schedule videos, and add additional users. Prices range from $9/month to $49/month, depending on your needs.
For those of you that aren’t familiar, Buffer is a social media marketing tool that allows you to easily schedule social posts. It tracks analytics, helps you plan a schedule so your posts hit your target demographic at key times, and best of all, it integrates with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ as well as Instagram.
Buffer makes it much possible to keep up with your publishing schedule across multiple platforms through one account. Unlike Later, Buffer allows users to upload and post videos to Instagram as well as photos.
The free version only allows 10 posts per profile, but you can upgrade to a range of paid plans if you want to schedule more posts in advance (bonus perk: all paid plans allow you to schedule Pinterest posts as well). Buffer is available via iOS, Android, and browser extension.
Like Buffer, Hootsuite integrates all of your social media marketing efforts into once place. It also provides social media analytics to show you how well your social media efforts are paying off, and you can engage with your audience with their monitoring tools.
The free version of Hootsuite is more suited for individuals, but you can easily upgrade to a plan for a small business or even dive into their enterprise level. Hootsuite is available through the web browser, iOS, and Android.
Just like Later, Publish by Crowdfire (formerly TakeOff) helps you schedule and manage your Instagram posts. Publish crunches the numbers to tell you the best time to post, and suggests the hashtags to reach people outside your group of followers. This app claims to help you increase comments and likes, and you can schedule up to 10 posts per day on one account with the free version. It's available for both Apple and Android devices.
That's right, lucky HubSpot users - you can schedule Instagram posts along with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ now! Just drag and drop or upload the image you want to post, type up your caption, and use the handy calendar to decide when you'd like your post to go out.
That calendar is one of my favorite features of HubSpot's social media publishing. You can easily see how many other posts you have scheduled for that day and time, which makes it simple to not bombard your followers with a sudden flood of posts. You can also schedule literal years out at a time if you feel so inclined.
If you're a HubSpot user, just click over to "Settings" from anywhere in the Social sub-menu of the Marketing Menu. There, you'll have the option to "Connect Account," and HubSpot will walk you through connecting your Instagram.
These tools that can make your day a lot easier - you can save a ton of time by preparing any post ahead of time, and just hitting a button when the app prompts you to post.
Scheduling helps, but it should definitely not be your only method of posting. Instagram was designed for capturing and sharing "in the now" moments, so you should try to post spontaneously as well as schedule posts in advance. And the ability to schedule should never distract you from interacting with people—that's the point of all of this social media, after all!
So you're rocking Instagram? Make sure your other social profiles look awesome, too.
Editor's Note: This blog was originally published September 20th, 2016. It has been updated for current information on March 20th, 2018.