Instagram scheduling is a great time-saver, and most social media professionals use it without a second thought. It’s when you create your posts in advance and use a piece of software to post them automatically at the time you want.
Meanwhile, Instagram automation is less great, if not outright evil. It involves paying to have bots like or comment on random strangers’ posts in order to falsely inflate your analytics. Not so surprisingly, automation doesn’t deliver on its promises. Not only is it harmful to your brand’s relationships with partners and audiences, it’s usually a scam.
Instagram has been very, very effective in its ongoing crackdown on bots, spam and scams. So, these days spending budget on shady activities is not only ineffective, it’s actually quite difficult. For instance, in our recent automation experiment, the services we tried to hire often just… didn’t work.
On the bright side, there are plenty of legitimate tools that use automation to help you get off the hamster wheel of repetitive tasks. Check out our list of white-hat social media automation tools for inspiration.
Best practices for scheduling Instagram posts
If you’re ready to take the plunge and get real efficient with your posting habits, these tips will help keep you ahead of the game.
When the time comes, you’ll receive a push notification on your phone to remind you to post to Instagram. Note that this is essentially the same process for scheduling your Instagram Stories (no matter what kind of account you have).
The process for posting looks something like this. The Hootsuite app will take care of most of the work, but you need to open Instagram, paste your caption in, select your photo, et cetera. Not tough brain work, but do schedule five minutes to triple-check that everything’s right.
Don’t schedule your posts too far in advance for Instagram Scheduling
If we’ve learned anything in 2020, it’s that the world is changing faster and faster.
When it comes to social media scheduling, going much farther than a week in advance can start to increase the risk of something going sideways. You don’t want to cause a social media crisis for your brand by posting something tone-deaf. In fact, if a crisis occurs you may need to pause your posting calendar entirely and use your social channels to communicate through a crisis.
Our advice: keep your finger on the pulse, and stay nimble.
Don’t get spammy while doing Instagram Scheduling
Yes, the miracle of Instagram scheduling means you can now increase your quantity of posts without sacrificing quality. But should you?
The short answer is “maybe.” The long answer is “maybe, if you can maintain consistent quality at that pace over the long term.”
But great engagement rates have more to do with consistency than frequency. Remember that the Instagram algorithm prioritizes good relationships: if your followers are engaging with your content, the algorithm will show more of it to them.
Upload and organize your visuals in Hootsuite’s content library
How do you organize your social media content? Dropbox, Google Drive? A few folders titled ‘misc social’ on your desktop?
Using a dedicated content library is better: there are tags, permissions, and a truck-load of metadata to help you find what you need, when you need it.
Edit a lot for Instagram Scheduling
No matter how busy you are, make sure you take a fresh look at that copy before it goes live.
And for big teams with a lot of moving parts, an internal multi-stage approval system is ideal for preventing a gaffe.
Analyze and adjust for Instagram Scheduling
The best part about scheduling Instagram posts is that it frees up your time to take a look at the big picture. What’s earning likes? What’s falling flat? Maybe you could even run some A/B tests, get mathy about it. Choose your preferred Instagram analytics tool and get cracking.