In June 2018, Instagram reached 1 billion monthly active users - that's a lot of cute pets and fancy burgers! Instagram is one of the most popular social media networks for people and businesses alike.
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. And since Instagram's algorithm update no longer shows posts in chronological order, taking the time to craft and schedule out attention-grabbing posts is a great addition to your strategy.
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.
In addition, it has a beautiful feed preview feature, so you can see how your scheduled posts will look once they're updated, and auto-posting!
It also allows you to search and repost through the app, as well as schedule tweets, Facebook posts, and Pinterest pins—convenient if you'll be sharing the same images across platforms.
You can also upgrade to one of their premium plans to schedule and manage more posts across multiple accounts, schedule videos, add additional users, and more. 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.
Schedule and publish content to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest with Crowdfire. It's the only social media management tool that offers image recommendations for Instagram - images that have been approved for sharing by the creators, of course! It also can help you curate related content so you can focus on your strategy instead of hunting for great, relevant articles to share.
Crowdfire crunches the numbers to tell you the best time to post, and suggests the hashtags to reach people outside your group of followers. It also includes a features called the "queue meter" which indicates if your timeline is going to look active for the next week - a great tool for ensuring you're posting enough content!
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 as well as your web browser.
Preview is an incredibly feature-packed tool. Great filters and editing tools, a beautiful preview grid to plan and design your feed (complete with an easy drag-and-drop interface), analytics and insights, reposting, hashtag generator, and even more.
You don't even have to log into Instagram to use this tool unless you want to, and you can manage multiple accounts from the app. And, best of all, it's all free. Get the app from the App Store or Google Play.
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. 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? How about grabbing some success with Facebook ads, too?
Editor's Note: This blog was originally published September 20th, 2016. It has been updated for current information on August 16, 2018.