The Ultimate Guide to Scheduling Instagram Posts

Learning how to schedule Instagram posts is one of the BEST ways to save time, increase your productivity, and stay connected with your Instagram followers.

Unfortunately, a lot of social media marketers are at a loss when it comes to selecting the best app for scheduling Instagram posts.

What features are most important? And how do you pick a scheduler that’s suited to your specific needs?

Don’t stress it. In our Ultimate Guide to Scheduling Instagram Posts, we explain exactly how you can save time, increase your engagement, and grow your following by scheduling your Instagram posts for free:

Update: Instagram recently made big change to their API, giving Instagram business profiles the ability to schedule single photo posts to Instagram without the use of push notifications. Later is now happy to offer Auto Publishing on all Later plans, including our free plan!


 

 

Why Schedule Posts to Instagram?

Every business owner knows that time is money. And if you’re looking to make better use of that ever-so-precious commodity, it makes sense to enlist the help of a free Instagram scheduler.

Just think about it. Would you rather take 30 minutes out your day every day to rummage through your photos, find one that fits with your Instagram aesthetic, and come up with a witty caption? Or take 1-2 hours on one day to schedule your Instagram posts for the whole week?

Not convinced? Here are 3 more reasons to schedule Instagram posts for business:  

1. Upload Instagram Posts from Your PC or Desktop

If you’re using a camera to take your photos for Instagram, you’re most likely editing your photos on your computer too!

Using an Instagram scheduler that lets you upload Instagram posts from your desktop will save you a ton of time, not to mention the frustration of trying to get your photos from your computer to your phone.

And think about what you can do with all of that saved time? Whether it’s growing your reach with an effective Instagram hashtag strategy, hosting an Instagram contest or giveaway, or fine-tuning your Instagram Stories strategy, by saving time with an Instagram scheduler you can focus more on achieving your larger business goals!

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2. Create Better Instagram Captions

Coming up with good Instagram captions is a challenge for everyone, but it’s even harder if you have to write the caption on the fly, every single day.

It’s also often more time-consuming to come up with new content ideas, hashtags, and captions on the spot, instead of sitting down to write them all when you’re in a creative or “writing” mood.

By writing your Instagram captions ahead of time, you can save yourself the daily stress and dedicate your time and energy to other important tasks, like engaging with your audience and building deeper connections with your followers.

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

With Later’s Saved Captions feature, you can create templates of your most commonly used hashtags. And when it’s time to schedule, you simply have to select one of your Saved Captions to add it to your post.

Not only does this cut the time you spend writing your hashtags and captions, but it can help increase the reach of your posts as well. As we learned from the 2017 shadowban scare, posting the same block of hashtags to your posts can negatively impact your engagement. Instead, it’s important to switch up your hashtag blocks and make sure each is a good fit for your post.

Since the Instagram algorithm favors posts with specific, relevant hashtags, a great strategy is to create multiple Saved Captions with different hashtag blocks and to switch them up based on what you’re posting. 

3. Plan a Beautiful Instagram Feed

Scheduling your Instagram posts ahead of time can also give you a better ‘big picture’ perspective of your  Instagram feed and social media strategy as a whole.

By planning your Instagram posts ahead of time, you can choose the order of your photos and rearrange them to design the perfect Instagram feed.

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Plus, it’s much easier to create a more balanced feed overall. For example, you’ll be able to see if you’re posting too many product and promotional photos and not enough lifestyle shots, or if you need space out your darker photos with some brighter ones.

This overview can help you get a consistent brand experience on your Instagram feed, which is key to getting more Instagram followers.

Later’s visual Instagram planner makes it super easy to design the perfect Instagram feed. You can easily drag and drop your photos onto the visual planner, re-arrange them to see how they’ll look in your Instagram feed, and then save to schedule them!

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How to Schedule Instagram Posts in 5 Steps:

Now that you’ve decided to schedule Instagram posts, there are a few things you’ll have to do first in order to really maximize your Instagram posting potential:

1. Find the Best Time to Post on Instagram

Before you start scheduling Instagram posts, you need to find out more about your followers and target market. When are they online? When are they most active on Instagram? When do they engage with your posts the most?

Because the Instagram algorithm gives priority to posts with higher engagement, the more likes and comments your post receives, the more people will see your post! Instagram also recently updated their algorithm to give more importance to when something is posted — meaning that the time that people post has more influence on what appears on your feed! 

So it’s super important to post at optimal times when your followers are most active. Scheduling Instagram posts for these times is one of the best things you can do to grow your Instagram account!

So the big question is, when is the best time to post to Instagram? Well, the secret is that there is no single best time to post to Instagram.

Different audiences will be active at different times, and in different time zones, and content will perform differently depending on a variety of factors. In general, however, Instagram users are very active in the morning, at lunch time, and in the evenings.

To find your personal best time to post on Instagram, you can use Later’s Best Time to Post feature, which automatically calculates your 7 top posting times based on how much engagement your posts get.

 

 

2. Create & Curate Your Instagram Content

Once you know the best time to post on Instagram for your business, it’s time to collect all the content for your Instagram feed!

If you’re creating your own content for Instagram, a great idea to maximize your time is to have “shoot days” where you can create a ton of content for your Instagram at one time.

Whether you’re doing a bunch of different flat lays at home to have on hand as extra content, or doing full photography shoots with your product, thinking ahead will help you not only plan better, but it will also make your photos flow better in your Instagram feed.

Once you’ve gathered your photos and videos, you can easily bulk upload them to your Later Media Library, which is sort of like your one-stop shop for all things Instagram marketing. With your Media Library, you can keep all your photos and videos in a single place.

You can also add a few labels to help organize your content, whether it’s by campaign, photoshoot, color, or theme. This makes it much easier to pull the right photo or video when you need it!

If you’re curating content for Instagram, or doing a mix of both, it’s still important to gather all your content in one place so you can view it all together before you post to Instagram.

An easy way to collect user-generated content from Instagram is to use Later’s Search & Repost feature, which lets you search Instagram hashtags, users, and locations to find content from your community. You can then repost it to build a curated feed that truly represents your brand. 

3. Plan Your Instagram Feed

Now that you know when your Instagram audience is most active, and you’ve collected a bunch of awesome visuals that truly represent your brand, the last step before scheduling Instagram posts is to to plan out your Instagram feed!

One of the hardest parts of making your Instagram feed look amazing is figuring out how to make all your individual photos look good beside each other.

Later’s  Visual Instagram Planner lets you easily plan and move around your Instagram feed before you schedule your posts, but how do you know which order you should post your photos in to make it look amazing? 

Take a step back from posting one photo, and look at your Instagram feed as a whole: how do all of your photos fit together? The prettiest feeds have a good variety of subjects that are evenly spaced out. The goal is to create balance and depth of field with your Instagram feed as a whole, just like you would in a photo.

If you post a busy photo, you’ll want to balance it out with a lighter photo or a photo with a lot of white space around it. Avoid posting the same shots close together, so switch up the top-down flat-lay photos with other content or a different angle.

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You can easily rearrange your Instagram content using Later’s visual planner by dragging around your photos to create the look and feel you want. Once you like what you see, it’s on to the next step — scheduling your Instagram posts!

4. Quick Schedule Your Instagram Posts

After you’ve spent time finding the best time to post on Instagram, collecting Instagram content, and planning your feed, the last thing you want to do is spend a ton of time actually scheduling your posts. Manually entering the time to post for every single Instagram post is not only boring, it’s unnecessary!

Creating your own Instagram queue based on your best times to post makes your life a lot easier — you just have to select your posting times once, and then when you queue up your Instagram posts they will automatically be scheduled for your desired timeslots.

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To Quick Schedule Instagram posts, you’ll want to start by creating your Instagram queue on the “weekly” tab of Later’s content calendar. To create your queue, simply double-click on the timeslot that you’d like to add, and a grey box will appear. To adjust your time, just drag the timeslot to the desired time.

Now that you’ve created a queue of your personal best times to post, you’re all set to Quick Schedule your Instagram posts! Select multiple photos or videos from your media library, and just drag and drop them at the top of your calendar. It’s that easy!

5. Auto Publish Your Instagram Posts

Recently, Instagram announced major changes to their API, giving Instagram business profiles the ability to schedule single photo posts to Instagram without the use of push notifications.  

This is a big deal. Prior to the change, the only safe way to schedule Instagram posts was to use an Instagram scheduler that sent you a push notification when it was time to post. Instagram’s API didn’t allow third-party apps to post for you, which meant that any app that auto-posted to Instagram was going against Instagram’s terms of service.

That all changed this year and the great news is that Later now offers auto-publishing and it’s available on all Later plans, including our free plan!

With Later’s new Auto Publish feature, you can now schedule Instagram posts directly to Instagram, no push notifications required!

Need help setting up your Later account for auto publishing to Instagram? Check out our step-by-step help guide here or watch the video below.

 

There are a few limitations to the Instagram API to note, and notifications may still be needed depending on the type of post you are wanting to schedule. Here’s are a few things to keep in mind: 

  1. Auto publishing to Instagram is only available to Instagram business profiles. In order to switch, you’ll need to connect your Instagram account to a Facebook page. You can learn how to set up an Instagram business profile here.
  2. You can only schedule single photos directly to Instagram, to schedule carousel posts or videos you will still need to use notifications.
  3. Auto publishing to Instagram is available on all Later plans, including our free plan!

Scheduling your Instagram posts is one of the best ways to save time while achieving your larger goals and objectives — which is a double win for businesses that use Instagram to make sales or generate leads!

When picking the right Instagram scheduler for you, it’s important to think about what features make the most sense for your needs, whether that’s curating user-generated content, planning your Instagram aesthetic, or finding your best times to post.

Join Later today to plan your feed, manage all your photos and videos, track your analytics, and automatically schedule Instagram posts — all in one place! 

Ready to save time with Instagram? Get started for free now!

Written By

Benjamin Chacon

Benjamin is a Content Writer at Later and recent transplant from Toronto. You can follow his day-to-day exploits on Instagram @benjaminchacs.