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Guide to scheduling Instagram posts

Have you heard the good news? Instagram has finally given what thousands of business users have been pining for: a way to schedule their posts automatically! If you’re not sure what that means, we’ve designed this mini guide to show social media managers how to use it efficiently.

Instagram’s recent scheduling changes

The fact that Instagram opened up the possibility for users to schedule their posts ahead of time was one of the hottest social media news items of 2018. The social media network announced the good news on its business blog back in January.

The new update was something users have been pining for since forever - especially a large community among the 5 million business owners and marketing agencies managing multiple social media profiles on Instagram. As Instagram is slowly but surely becoming one of the most important networks for digital marketing - the Facebook run company is always updating its features with an increasing focus for businesses.

After the paid partnership feature Instagram rolled out for select profiles, the new ability it gave users to follow hashtags, and this recent turn of events, it’s clear that Instagram means business. The platform that started out as an entirely mobile focused app is now finally shifting towards limited (through third party apps) desktop functionality.

If you’re an individual Insta-consumer, it might not be something you care about, but if you own a business marketing on instagram, or a digital marketing agency, I’m sure you realize what’s the big deal: it’s always been incredibly time-consuming to create Instagram posts, either for your brand, or for a client’s. For a business managing multiple social media accounts, good old posting can easily become a full time job. If it’s an agency in question? It’s barely manageable.

Instagram scheduling feature FAQ

So, let’s get right down to business - here’s all you need to know about Instagram’s new automatic scheduling feature.

What is the new functionality exactly?

What the company basically did is a huge change to their Graph API, its application programming interface, finally giving Instagram users with business profiles a way to schedule single photo posts to Instagram without the use of push notifications.

Before the new feature rolled out, the only way you could post to Instagram was through the android app. That meant that you couldn’t enjoy the ease of sharing organic content on your desktop, or through social media management apps such as Amplifr in any direct way.

At this point, almost all other major social media networks out there have introduced API changes to allow proper post scheduling via third parties - except Instagram. But although they have held out the longest, it seems they are now finally giving way and giving marketers what they’ve longed for.

Can you schedule directly in Instagram?

Unfortunately, there is still no way for you to schedule posts directly on Instagram.

Instead, the platform now allows you to schedule using different social media management apps.

You can only schedule posts automatically on Instagram by using a third party app, such as a social media management tool.

What types of content does the new Instagram update affect?

The changes only affect businesses’ organic content on the network, and not ads.

Currently, the feature works only for photos, but the company is keeping it open for the future.

Who can schedule posts on Instagram

At the moment, the company only allows the option for business profiles. However, Instagram is planning to open up the process for individual users in the future - support for non-business “basic” profiles is scheduled for an early 2019 release.

In the meantime, non-business users can keep scheduling their posts with third-party app reminders, such as the one we offer here at Amplifr.

Sign up to Amplifr and connect your Instagram profiles to make a content schedule and receive posting reminders.

The benefits of having an Instagram business account

The very first question we asked ourselves when we heard of Instagram Business Profiles was, what is it and how different is it from an Instagram Profile as we know it today? The answer is way simpler than you think: Converting to a business profile means that Instagram can finally recognize your account as such, and give you the extra features that go with it: you can add get directions to your profile info, or choose how you want your customers to get in touch - by call, text, or email, all at the simple tap of your contact button.

The difference is subtle, but meaningful, because it gives users more reasons to see your online brand as legitimate and trustworthy, and if they still don’t - more info on your business is now merely a tap away.

Aside from that, there will also be a new business discovery feature. The feature will allow users to view other business profile information and content, and it’s potentially an effective way to gain more exposure to audiences. Although the update is only relevant to businesses and organizations at the moment, the company announced that it does plan to gradually roll it out to all users.

If you are using your Instagram profile to promote your business or brand and especially if you already have an active Facebook Page, then you should most definitely make the switch. It is free and it basically only takes a minute.

If you’re one of those Insta-users who have a business account, you’ll know that there are some other perks as well, now more than ever. The special features that distinguish them from personal profiles are the following:

How to convert your Instagram account to business

Currently, the pre-requirement for creating a business profile is linking to a Facebook page you manage. If you don’t know how to do this, you can follow the steps in Instagram’s very own tutorial - but note that this will only work if your permission is page admin. Other than that, the process of converting your existing Instagram profile to business is actually quite simple.

You’ll only need to follow these steps:

  1. Make sure your profile is set to Public, as private accounts can’t be set for business;
  2. Go to your profile page on Instagram;
  3. Click on Options;
  4. Tap “Switch to Business Profile”;
  5. You’ll be asked to Connect to Facebook. After tapping “Choose Page” just follow the prompts;
  6. If you need to make any changes to your business’s contact info, you can do it on the “Set Up Your Business Profile” page;
  7. Tap Done once everything’s good to go!

You can start enjoying the new features immediately - more contact options and more insights are now at your disposal!

Keep in mind that business profiles and verified profiles are not the same thing. Instagram profiles are either personal or business, and both types can go through a verification process. If you’re interested about Instagram’s verification process, check out our Instagram and Twitter verification guide where we explain it in detail.

Does the feature work for both images and video?

Currently, the feature rolled out for images, but statements from the company indicate that it will also be available for other types of posts in the future.

Key takeaways:


Benefits of scheduling Instagram posts

Are you one of those marketers who still like to do their posting manually? You’ve never really considered scheduling posts, or you’re simply reluctant to try a third party scheduling application?

At Amplifr, we are definitely pro-scheduling and there are quite a few reasons why, but the main thing to remember is this: the strategy in social media strategy is there for a reason - and like everything else in your business, it can greatly benefit from simple planning.

It’s 2018, and the sheer number of social media management tools has made posting on social media manually seem pretty archaic. If you’re juggling posting photos on Instagram, writing captions, throwing in hashtags and keeping up with social media algorithm changes, and audience peak activity you might consider the help of a tool. And we’ll show you all the reasons we think you’ll benefit from it.

You can plan out your content ideas

You’re wrapping up your day, but you know that there’s one teeny beeny thing left on your agenda - posting to Instagram. And that’s not that big of a deal, except… you have absolutely no idea what to post.

If you’re a business owner, let’s face it - you’ve been there. And if you’re a social media marketer it’s even worse.

It’s not that hard to figure out that the content you post at the last minute is not likely to be your best. In 2018, when businesses are tearing each other to shreds in the battle for social media presence, that’s not nearly enough to get the edge you need over your competition.

Smart businesses make it, because they know how important social media content strategy actually is. So take our advice: dedicate a time slot at the beginning of each week just to plan out content in your editorial calendar.

That way, you are going to make sure that everything you post to your social media channels is going to be optimized for success.

Don’t post just for the sake of posting, make sure your content aligns with your Instagram marketing strategy. And scheduling your posts in a calendar where you can see a general overview of everything you post is going to help you see what works and what doesn’t.

Upload Instagram Posts from Your PC or Desktop

Smartphones are becoming awesome tools for creating content, but sometimes, especially if you’re a social media manager, it can be easier to prepare and schedule all of your content on a desktop computer. One of the advantages of scheduling your posts in the web app is that you’ll have access to images of videos that might not be on your phone.

Most Instagram scheduler tools, Amplifr included, enable you to create your posts on your desktop before publishing on mobile.

We know that Instagram is famous for its editorial aesthetics - users go to great lengths to achieve the desired effect, sometimes to such an extent that the content in your feed can easily pass for a fashion or lifestyle magazine.

However, while ordinary users can pull off adding an artistic touch by using filters, businesses need a bit more to make their content look polished and professional.

Nowadays, most businesses use professional cameras to take the photos for their Instagram content, because whatever you are posting to a business profile needs to first be conceptualized, and then executed in high quality.

The only problem with that? It takes a lot of time. If you’re one of them, you probably know how irritating and time-consuming it can be to get your content material from your PC transferred to your phone and published directly via the Instagram app. That’s where social media management apps can come in handy.

Using an Instagram scheduler tool, like Amplifr for example, means that you can arrange your content for publishing on your desktop, right after you’ve finished editing it! With Amplifr, you can simply drag and drop your content in a particular time slot. You can either set the time yourself, or let your tool calculate what’s your audience’s peak activity times and suggest the best time slots for you.

And think about what you can do with all of that saved time? When you save time with an Instagram scheduler you can focus more on those SMM aspects that can’t be automated - and shouldn’t, such as: a sound Instagram hashtag strategy, hosting giveaways or contests, or polishing your temporary content on Instagram Stories!

Create Better Instagram Captions

Instagram captions sound pretty simple, but there’s no social media manager who doesn’t recognize them for what they are: tricky monsters designed to challenge your marketing skills. Writing them only gets harder over time, because you have to think up fresh ideas day after day, and make sure they include a CTA that resonates with your audience.

But all things considered, it’s even more time-consuming to come up with new caption ideas on the spot, and a good social media management tool can really ease up the process. Our recommendation is to save yourself the daily stress and and dedicate your time to the tasks you definitely shouldn’t automate - like quality, hands on, audience engagement.

Using an Instagram scheduler can also help with your Instagram hashtag strategy.

We’ve discussed the importance of having a hashtag strategy on numerous occasions, but after the addition of Instagram’s follow hashtag feature, it’s now more important than ever. Not only does scheduling help cut the time you spend writing your hashtags and captions, but it can help increase the reach of your posts as well. The 2017 shadowban scare taught us one thing at least - posting exactly the same block of hashtags over and over again can have a devastating effect on your user engagement. What you can do instead is switch up your hashtags and make sure each one is the perfect fit for any particular post.

Sign up to Amplifr and connect your Instagram profiles to check which hashtags work for you.

When you take into account that 7 out of every 10 hashtags shared on Instagram are branded, it makes even more sense to make sure that you are using the right ones, and taking advantage of this amazing opportunity for your brand to stand out. After all, posts that contain hashtags get 12.6% more engagement than those without them.

That way you’ll be making sure that your audience finds your content - because, there’s no doubt that Instagram users enjoy a great pic. And when they see something they like, they usually tend to buy it.

Plan a consistent Instagram aesthetic

We all know that when it comes to Instagram, there is nothing as important as your profile’s aesthetic. After all, your visual presence is practically everything when it comes to this most visual of social networks.

Scheduling your Instagram posts in a planned manner can result in a much more balanced feed, because you can choose the order in which you post your photos and actually design the arrangement in a way that matches your brand’s visual identity. The result is that you have a much clearer perspective on your social media strategy as a whole. By analyzing the content in your content calendar you can figure out how to balance product and promotional content with content that is more creative, playful, and that actually makes sense for your brand.

Consider the following when planning out your visual content:

  • Is your brand visible?
  • Do your photos fit together?
  • Is there a distinguishable color theme?
  • Does it speak for your business?
  • Does each new photo match your previous content?

Check out our general SMM guide on design and aesthetics and hone out your visual skills. But if you think (like we do) that this subject requires some extra attention, you can also take a look at our article on how to give your Instagram brand its own aesthetic.

Less time posting means more time engaging

When you’re caught up trying to pump out content every day, it’s easy to forget another important aspect of growing a brand on social media - engagement.

Take the time you need to devise your Instagram stories strategy

As we discuss in our Instagram Stories strategy guide, this popular Instagram feature is essential for driving traffic. It was one of the major trends that rocked SMM in 2017, and 2018 won’t be any different. For better or worse, temporary content has suddenly become a major player in social media, and if you want your social presence to grow, you’ll need to keep up with the times.

Instagram Stories usually show a “less-filtered” view of you or your business, requiring less time for planning and a lot more room to post on-the-go, without the pressure of having a perfectly crafted Instagram post. But if it’s less filtered, it doesn’t actually mean that it should be an afterthought in your marketing campaigns.

You can be more consistent on Instagram

Consistency is one of the key factors for Instagram growth (or growth on any social network, for that matter). That means that scheduling your Instagram posts and make sure that you post social updates regularly can be a win-win situation— it can help boost your reach and drive more engagement. Not to mention that it’ll save you precious social media management time throughout the day.

Make sure you teach your audience what to expect from you, and then - to always deliver.


The difference between automatic scheduling and reminders

As we already briefly discussed in our guide on managing multiple social media accounts, Instagram’s service rules used to state that the only way you could legally post on the platform was to actually use the Instagram app on your smartphone. To do it any other way would be in direct violation of the platform’s terms of service, and could easily get your account banned.

At Amplifr, we wanted to make sure you get some scheduling functionality, without compromising your security. That’s why we chose to implement reminders. Reminders allow you to schedule an Instagram post in our content calendar the same way you’d schedule it for any other social media profile. Then, our app sends out a push notification to remind you to publish your picture, video or text at a given time, via our IOS app or Telegram bot.

What does this mean for Amplifr users?

This announcement is huge for all parties involved in social media management, there’s no doubt about it. But Instagram has chosen to slowly roll out the update via a “closed beta”, in partnership with only a select number of social media management apps.

What does it mean for Amplifr users? Well, it’s definitely in the pipeline of upcoming features, as we are looking forward to getting access to Instagram’s new API in the following period.

Our team is following these new Instagram developments closely, because we’d be happy to give our users the ability to schedule posts directly in our content calendar.

In the meantime, Amplif will continue to let users schedule Instagram posts via browser notifications, messenger or via a Telegram bot.

However, despite the API update, it’s important to remember that users won’t have the new functionality if:

In those two occasions, the only way to schedule your posts is by using reminders.

How to schedule your Instagram posts with Amplifr

1. Connect your Instagram business or non-business account to Amplifr

Choose the Instagram icon from the social media accounts menu you can find in Settings/Accounts.

You can add your Instagram account to an existing project (yours or a client’s), or choose a new project.

2. Access your content media calendar

Go to Project name/Posts to access your Amplifr content media calendar. You can schedule your posts to a custom time slot, or choose one of the preassigned time slots.

3. Click on a time slot to schedule a post, or use Project name/New post

Add your post content here - text, picture, or video, choose a label, and check the Instagram account you want it published to. Amplifr will not allow you to publish a post that doesn’t meet the requirements of the social network you are posting to, including Instagram.

4. Set your preferred reminders

The first time you post to Instagram with Amplifr, the tool will prompt you to integrate your preferred reminder. You can choose between receiving a browser notification, Telegram notification or getting reminded in Messenger. Once you’ve made the necessary integrations, simply click Remind to post, and you’ll be taken back to your content calendar.

5. Click on your Instagram reminder when you get it

At the scheduled time, the post author will receive a notification to remind them to post to Instagram manually.

And voila! In the meantime, make sure you convert your Instagram profile to business, so when the update rolls out fully, you’ll be already set up for success.


Final words

While this particular Instagram update was certainly long overdue, if you’re one of the social media managers that applaud it, here’s some food for thought. While publishing content on Instagram is getting more and more manageable these days, there will undoubtedly be an increase in content quantity. So it’s now more important than ever to pay attention to content quality. The businesses and agencies that keep high standards when it comes to posting will be the ones to stand out in the sea of social media marketing competition.

After all, marketing on Instagram is no joke - it requires time, effort, and quite a lot of planning. If you’re unsure how to build your brand presence on this highly popular visual platform take the time to investigate with the help of our comprehensive Instagram marketing guide.

What are your thoughts about the new scheduling and automatic publishing changes? Have you started scheduling your posts for Instagram? Do you find it beneficial for your business? Let us know what you think - share your thoughts, comments and experience!

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to hit us up on Twitter and Facebook, or drop us a line.

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