Written by Elise Dopson

May 10, 2021

It’s no secret that Instagram is a super-marketing tool for companies of all sizes, and is used by people of all ages around the world. (There’s more than a billion of them opening the app every month.)

So, you’ve likely created your own Instagram marketing campaign to reach them. But, as you’ve probably already figured out, this process is time-consuming. Planning a new post can take hours, and that’s without taking any engagement into account.

The good news is that you can save time with Instagram Automation tools that schedule content in advance.

In this guide we’ll cover:

Can you schedule posts on Instagram?

The short answer: yes. There are various tools designed to help marketers automate their Instagram strategy, including features that schedule content on profiles.

Using an automation tool, you can schedule the following types of Instagram posts: 

Why bother scheduling Instagram content?

Scheduling your social media posts is a superb way to grow your Instagram account on autopilot. Let’s take a look at how.

Save time

Social media marketing can feel repetitive. Say you’re posting new content once per day. That could mean at least an hour every day posting on Instagram.

Scheduling content ahead of time, however, allows you to schedule batches of content. You can spend half a day creating content and scheduling it to go out throughout the week. 

This is especially great for small business owners who don’t have time to manage their social media strategy. They can schedule their content and spend more time engaging with their followers, reporting, or on other marketing tasks.

Be consistent

Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes recent content. And, when people follow your Instagram profile, they start to expect regular content, making consistency key. 

However, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks. A few days off for vacation or a busy week that prevents you from posting could cause your Instagram content to fall on the backburner. Scheduling content in advance prevents that from happening. 

Plus, most Instagram scheduling tools allow you to see what your content will look like on your profile. An aesthetically pleasing profile (with a consistent design) could be the difference between someone following you and not. 

Get more followers

Speaking of getting more Instagram followers, some scheduling platforms work by posting content at your optimal posting times. After all, what’s the point of scheduling Instagram posts when nobody’s around to see it. 

The result? Content gets posted to your Instagram profile when your audience is most active, which leads to more exposure, engagement, and followers. 

How to schedule Instagram posts 

There’s no doubt that scheduling your Instagram posts is a great way to grow your account.

Here’s a five-step guide to scheduling your own content, plus recommendations for Instagram scheduling tools that can post content on your behalf. 

  1. Create an Instagram business account.
  2. Curate your content.
  3. Find your optimal posting time.
  4. Write your caption and choose hashtags.
  5. Pick an Instagram scheduling tool. 

1. Create an Instagram business account

The first step for scheduling Instagram content is to create a business account before connecting it to your business’s Facebook Page (if you haven’t already). 

An Instagram business profile differs from a personal account. It gives you access to more Instagram features, one of which is audience insights. Instead of guessing the best time to post, you’ll see in-depth analytics to track how your scheduled content performs according to your audience’s activity. 

2. Curate content

The next stage is to curate the content you’ll schedule to your account.

The best type of content to post on Instagram depends on your audience. Some examples include:

  • Behind-the-scenes photos.
  • Custom graphics.
  • Product tutorials. 
  • User-generated content. 
  • Reposted influencer posts. 
  • Recorded or live video.

Create a library of the content you’ll share. Social media automation tools, such as Quuu and MeetEdgar, can do this for you automatically, so you’ll always have a library of content to schedule. 

3. Find your optimal posting time

We’ve briefly touched on the fact that the timing of your scheduled Instagram posts matters. Scheduling content to go out when your audience is online improves your content’s chances of getting seen. 

Research pits the best time to post on Instagram between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays. (Remember: Time zones play a role here. The best time in your country may not be the optimal posting time for followers in another region.) 

However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to optimal times. Your audience might be opening the Instagram app when they’re off work, on a lunch break, or relaxing on the weekend. 

The only way to figure out your optimal time is to test it, using automation tools to analyze the success of previous posts. 

4. Write your caption, tag accounts, and choose hashtags

Once you’ve built up a library of shareable Instagram content, create a unique caption for each image or video.

Again, there are no best practices to follow when writing a good Instagram caption. Test out the following tactics and report on the success of each.

  • Using emojis.
  • Long versus short captions.
  • Adding a call to action (CTA) for people to engage.

Think about any influencers you want to tag in your account, too. Getting their attention with your scheduled post could result in them sharing your content with their audience. 

You should also choose a handful of Instagram hashtags at this point. Users can follow hashtags without following an account. So, choose the ones your target audience follows and use your scheduling tool to add them into the caption or as the first comment. 

5. Choose an Instagram scheduler 

Now that you’ve planned out your Instagram content, it’s time to start scheduling!

Here are four of the best Instagram scheduling tools, with guidance on how to use each.

How to schedule Instagram posts with Facebook Creator Studio

Facebook owns Instagram, so most features available inside an Instagram business account are managed through Facebook’s Creator Studio, including content scheduling. 

Here’s how to use it to schedule Instagram feed posts. 

  1. Connect your business’s Instagram account to Creator Studio.
  2. Hit “Create Post” and choose “Instagram Feed.”
  3. Create your content: Upload the image, write a caption, and include any hashtags you want to share with the scheduled post.
  4. Choose the dropdown arrow besides “Publish” and press “Schedule.”
  5. Choose a date and time for your scheduled Instagram post to go live. 

Pricing: Free.

how to schedule instagram posts using facebook creator studio

The only downside to using Creator Studio is that you’re only able to schedule Instagram feed posts. To schedule Instagram Stories or IGTV content, you’ll need to use a third-party app. 

Buffer

Buffer connects with various social networks so you can schedule content in advance, including Instagram posts and Stories. 

Here’s how to schedule Instagram feed posts in Buffer.

  1. Download Buffer’s iOS or Android app and create an account. 
  2. Connect your Instagram business account. 
  3. Find the Queue section of your Buffer dashboard.
  4. Hit “Create New Post.”
  5. Drag-and-drop your Instagram content, including the caption, hashtags, and photo itself.
  6. Hit “Schedule post.”

To schedule an Instagram Story or IGTV post, the process is slightly different. Limitations on Instagram’s application programming interface (API) means you’ll need to set a reminder to post your content inside the mobile app, which will be sitting there waiting for you to hit “publish” when the time comes.

Pricing: Free plan and 14-day trial available. Paid plans start at $15/month.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is another great social media management tool that can schedule posts to your Instagram profile. 

Here’s how to use it.

  1. Create a Hootsuite account and connect your Instagram business profile.
  2. Find the “Create New Post” button in the app sidebar.
  3. Under the “Post to” field, choose your account. 
  4. Upload the image you want to schedule alongside its caption. 
  5. Choose a date and time to schedule the Instagram post. 
  6. Optional: Use the AutoSchedule tool to add the scheduled content to your queue.

Pricing: Starts at $49/month for one user. Free 30-day trial available. 

Sprout Social

Sprout Social has an Instagram integration that acts as a content scheduler, but unlike Creator Studio, Sprout Social has a feature that makes it easier to schedule Instagram Stories.

Limitations on Instagram’s API means Sprout Social can’t automatically post Stories on your behalf. But you can build workflows to create Instagram Stories on your desktop. The tool will then send that Story to your mobile app ready for you to hit “publish.”

(Sprout Social also works with other social profiles, including LinkedIn and Facebook Pages.)

Pricing: From $99 per user, per month, for unlimited Instagram scheduling. Free 30-day trial available. 

Best practices for Instagram scheduling

1. Create a queue for scheduled content

We all know it’s important to post Instagram content when your audience is online. But instead of keeping a mental reminder of your optimal posting times (and remembering to check in to see if they change), most platforms can do this for you. 

Some social media scheduling tools — including Buffer, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social — create queues based on your own Instagram account’s optimal posting times. Any new content added to the queue will be scheduled at those peak times.

2. Don’t schedule too far in advance

It’s easy to get carried away with auto-posting content to your Instagram profile. After all, it’s recommended to post between one and three Instagram feed posts per day, and another two to five Stories. 

But, be wary of scheduling Instagram content too far in advance. Sociocultural events may occur where scheduled content could come across as insensitive.

Aim to schedule a month’s worth of content at most, but always be ready to pause. 

3. Plan the visuals

Did you know that more than 50% of Instagram users head to the Explore tab every month?

That’s why the visual aspect of your scheduled Instagram posts is so important: You need to stand out against the other images and videos on the Explore tab in order to  boost your reach, engagement, and follower count.

Most Instagram scheduling apps have a content calendar view. Some tools (like Tailwind) even store templates to keep all of your scheduled content on brand. 

4. Report on results

The purpose for scheduling your Instagram content is to increase your likelihood of reaching more accounts and convincing them to follow you; and, ultimately, helps build an audience of Instagram followers to promote your products and services to.

So it’s good to frequently check your Instagram Analytics to see whether the scheduled content is making headway on those goals. Keep an eye on metrics like:

  • Impressions: the number of times your post was shown.
  • Engagement rate: the percentage of people who see your post and engage with it — either by liking, commenting, bookmarking, or sharing it with a friend.
  • Follower growth: the number of new people who’ve followed your business’s Instagram profile.

The Instagram Insights tab can provide you with this information; however, third-party social media analytics tools can break down the data for you, and takes the results into consideration when scheduling future Instagram content. 

Start automating your Instagram marketing strategy

Scheduling content for your Instagram account is a superb way to get started with Instagram Automation. 

But what happens when you get a bunch of new people starting conversations with your account?

Around 50% of user-to-business messaging starts from Stories, so if you’re scheduling that type of content, expect a rise in the number of messages coming through to your Instagram Inbox.

The good news: ManyChat exists to handle those conversations. With ManyChat, create an Instagram Automation workflow that gives customers real-time responses for frequently asked questions, and engage in conversations across several channels. 

Automate your Instagram marketing strategy with Instagram Automation by ManyChat. Join the waitlist today. 

The contents of this blog were independently prepared and are for informational purposes only. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ManyChat or any other party. Individual results may vary.