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Without a doubt, Instagram is a great way to grow your business. There are one billion users on Instagram and 81% of people use Instagram to research products and services. Those are statistics you just can’t ignore.
But while the platform might be just the ticket to give your business a welcome boost, planning an Instagram marketing strategy and putting it into action is no easy feat. One of the main challenges that many face, particularly time-poor small business owners that often wear many hats, is having the time to plan out and then publish content that resonates with their target audience. And that’s where an Instagram scheduling app can really come into its own.
Rather than having to religiously show up each day on Instagram (although it is important to show up and engage when you’re able to!) when you’ve got calls to suppliers to make, customer inquiries to respond to, orders to fulfil, etc (plus remembering to eat!), you can plan a batch of content ahead of time and have it published to your account without you having to be there. MIND BLOWN!
If you’ve already started searching for these tools you might have run into another problem…there are quite a few. “But which is the best Instagram scheduler…which one should I use??” We’re glad you asked because that’s the whole point of this article. We reached out to over 80 Instagram marketing experts to get their take on the best Instagram posting apps, using their insights to put together a list of recommendations that you can trust.
Whether you’re just starting out as an influencer or trying to give your multi-generation family business the edge it needs, you’re extremely likely to find an Instagram scheduling tool below that will help you get there.
Best Instagram Scheduler? Here’s How the Experts Voted
|Instagram Scheduler||# of Votes|
|#=1. Later||33 Votes|
|#=1. Creator Studio||33 Votes|
|#2. Hootsuite||15 Votes|
|#3. Sprout Social||14 Votes|
|#4. Planoly||12 Votes|
|#5. Buffer||9 Votes|
|#6. Agorapulse||8 Votes|
|#7. Sked Social||6 Votes|
|#8. Preview||5 Votes|
|#=9. Onlypult||3 Votes|
|#=9. Tailwind||3 Votes|
|#=10. HubSpot||2 Votes|
|#=10. Falcon||2 Votes|
|#=10. Gain||2 Votes|
|#=10. Plann||2 Votes|
|#=10. Iconosquare||2 Votes|
|#=11. Canva||1 Vote|
|#=11. SmarterQueue||1 Vote|
|#=11. Social Mermaid||1 Vote|
|#=11. Publer||1 Vote|
|#=11. Planable||1 Vote|
|#=11. CoSchedule||1 Vote|
|#=11. Loomly||1 Vote|
|#=11. HeyOrca||1 Vote|
|#=11. Hopper HQ||1 Vote|
|#=11. Sendible||1 Vote|
|#=11. Inssist||1 Vote|
|#=11. UNUM||1 Vote|
There were a total of 28 scheduling platforms that received votes for being the best Instagram scheduler. Five of the entries really stood out, receiving 10 votes or more. These were Later, Creator Studio, Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Planoly. Later and Creator Studio tied for the most votes and were quite clearly the top two picks with more than double the votes of 3rd placed Hootsuite. Below we’re going to discuss some of the strengths and weaknesses of each of the top 5 Instagram schedulers that were shared by our experts based on their experiences with these tools.
An Overview of the Most Popular Instagram Schedulers
Below we’ve put together a table comparing the top 5 scheduling tools from our survey, placing them side by side to look at some of the more important features you might want to consider when choosing the best Instagram scheduler for your needs.
We wanted to make a distinction between tools that are able to “Auto Publish” and those that send a “Push Notification” prompting you to publish, and you’ll see this in the table where we’ve put an “AP” or “PN” below the check icon for the different post types.
| || || || || || |
|Official Instagram Partner||Native Tool|
|Paid Plans||From $15/Mo||Always Free||From $49/Mo||From $99/Mo||From $7/Mo|
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A Closer Look at the 5 Top-Voted Instagram Posting Schedulers (Including Both Paid + Free Instagram Tools)
When it comes to user interface, Later offers a scheduling platform like no other. It’s one of the original scheduling tools for Instagram, and its calendar layout enables you to visually plan and schedule your Instagram posts with ease. Later has diversified across other social media platforms such as Tik Tok, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. It’s also affordable, with the free plan allowing one user 30 posts across a set of social media accounts.
If you upgrade to a paid plan you unlock lots of other useful features, such as analytics to help you understand how your content is performing, their Linkin.bio feature which enables users to add links to Instagram posts (a feature that most competitors don’t offer), and the “Add First Comment” feature which allows you to add your hashtags to the first comment as opposed to the actual post. And that’s just a small taster of what you get with Later for a fairly modest monthly fee.
2. Creator Studio (by Facebook)
Facebook’s Creator Studio is the in-house option that you can use to link multiple Instagram accounts, plus it works incredibly well with video, including IGTV. Many also believe that Creator Studio improves the effectiveness of Instagram posts due to it being a native scheduler rather than a 3rd party tool. Available for use on both desktop and mobile, Creator Studio also aids in recommending hashtags to use and allows you to manage comments through the app.
Creator Studio is also completely free to use!! Widely regarded as the best free Instagram scheduler, it measures up favorably against the free plans offered by competitors, and it offers numerous features they don’t (even in their paid plans), such as being able to schedule and autopublish both Carousel Posts and IGTV (although for now you can’t schedule stories). Since it’s run by Facebook there is also constant user-centric development, with new features being added all the time. The main things that are somewhat lacking compared to other tools are the analytics and the user interface; basic insights that are only provided one week at a time and there’s no visual planner on offer here.
If cross-platform posting is what you’re after then Hootsuite will be right up your street. It may not have won the race to be voted our best Instagram scheduling app, but it is the scheduler that has been around the longest, servicing multiple social media platforms at the same time. Hootsuite allows users to post directly to Instagram, and you can post stories which not every Instagram scheduling app allows. Advanced analytics enables you to access reports across multiple platforms, allowing you to understand what is working, and where. (Particularly useful if you’re still not sure where your target audience “hang out”…you might have thought it was Facebook, and then find out you achieve much better results on Instagram!)
With a free plan to span across two channels, Hootsuite is a perfectly suitable option for a small business. The social listening feature also helps you find posts that mention your business, and follow discussions and developments within your industry. The choice of scheduling in advance or by push notification also enables users to check their Instagram posts one more time before publishing. Although it seems to receive mixed reviews on the user interface, Hootsuite is still one of the best Instagram scheduling apps out there.
4. Sprout Social
If you’re an agency owner or social media manager, Sprout Social may be the best Instagram scheduling app for your needs. Sprout Social works well for teams that need to collaborate in putting posts together, and will also make suggestions for the best time to post on Instagram.
Where Sprout Social really stands out is in the detailed analytics the tool compiles, allowing social media managers and marketers to clearly communicate the results of marketing campaigns to clients. Sprout Social can deliver reports about post performance, audience analytics, and hashtag effectiveness. The analytics features are backed up by deep social listening to know more about what is being said about your brand. These features do come at a cost though, being one of the more expensive options. But if Instagram management is what you do for a living, it’s likely an investment that will pay off big time.
One of the more recent additions to the market is Planoly. Founded in 2016, it features an easy to use drag and drop visual planner, and it’s very apparent that user experience was a high priority during development. The app also works well on both desktop and mobile devices, enabling users to manage their scheduling in a way that suits them.
Both photos and videos can be scheduled and Planoly works across multiple social platforms. Pricing is also very affordable starting at $7 per month. Planoly comes with a host of easy to use features including storing hashtags, autoposting the first comment, image filters and their “Quick Schedule” function. This reliable and user friendly platform is slightly let down by analytics that aren’t quite on the same level as some of the competition, but it’s still considered by many to be one of the best Instagram posting apps.
Read What The Experts Said
We didn’t just curate a list of the best Instagram schedulers and rank them in this order “because we felt like it.” We surveyed industry professionals to put together this article. These are folks that have tons of experience using Instagram scheduling tools, and have figured out what works best. So don’t just take our word for it when reading these recommendations. Read what the experts themselves had to say.
If you would like to read what was said about a specific scheduler, feel free to use the filters below to jump to the Instagram scheduling app that interests you.
“As a Social Media Manager and Consultant scheduling tools have always been a huge part of my day to day work and something I recommend to clients regularly.
I’ve tried a few in my quest for scheduling perfection and not loved many, but my number one – not just for Instagram and for so many reasons has got to be:”
Buffer – “I have had a long-running love affair with Buffer for a number of years now – it all began when I started training in social media marketing. Everyone was singing the praises of Hootsuite – it was all Hootsuite this and Hootsuite that – but for me, just starting out I found the interface of Hootsuite to be too cluttered and Buffer was a clean, no fuss, so easy to use alternative and it’s just so good!
The price is fairly cost-effective, it’s so easy to upload images and craft your post. (You can even add Instagram stories ready to post) Another huge plus for me is that the customer service – although on American time – is excellent! They also don’t bombard you with emails but their newsletter is fab and they have a great podcast. Their whole ethos is perfect for me, it’s straight to the point, helpful and they are so friendly as a company and just on it! Have I sold you yet?”
“My runner-up for Instagram scheduling has got to be Plann.”
Plann – “What I love about Plann is that you can plan (see what I did there) your grid – a huge plus when it comes to planning your grid and getting a real feel for how your grid is going to look. Again, it’s fairly straightforward and so easy to use (noticing a theme yet?) which is ideal for beginners and the pricing is great value too.”
“So there you have it, my top picks when it comes to Instagram scheduling – I should say Hootsuite is actually pretty good and I have used it with clients and found it to be pretty awesome as well. With most things I think it’s down to personal preference. Most apps these days give you the option of a free trial, so take advantage and see what’s right for you, which interface you prefer and the extras you think you will get the most value out of.
I would say in general, scheduling tools are always worth the money and save so much time when it comes to planning out your content and really something I would recommend spending your hard-earned cash on.”
Creator Studio – “My first recommendation has to be Facebook Creator Studio. Is it the most user friendly? No. Is it the most in-depth? No. However, it is an in-platform tool as opposed to out of platform, which means there’s little to no chance of using this tool affecting the reach or performance of your Instagram posts.
It is worth stating, that no Instagram scheduling tool will allow you to schedule everything; reels, stories & guides are all currently un-schedulable in an automatic form. Lots of tools will send you notifications when you have a story that’s scheduled to go live, prompting you to post it from your phone… but it is impossible for them to publish on their own from any tool. Yep, that means even when using Facebook’s own tool also.”
HeyOrca – “A tool that we actually use at The Social Shepherd is called HeyOrca. We use it as our clients love the sign off process. They can give feedback and approve content with ease, and once signed off by the client that content is automatically scheduled. As mentioned above, it isn’t perfect (as no tool is) and it is in its infancy, but it’s the best, most cost-effective tool that we’ve come across from an agency perspective, and they seem very proactive in terms of consistently developing the platform.”
Later – “Later is a great basic scheduling tool, particularly for Instagram. It has lots of helpful features like hashtag recommendations, optimised posting times and feed visuals. I’d recommend this for anyone that wants the basics, but in a really easy to use way.”
Later – “While there are many scheduling platforms out there, Later specializes specifically in Instagram. It’s a visual scheduling platform where you can easily schedule photos, videos and carousel posts. It also includes Linkin.bio so you can include custom links for your Instagram posts.”
Sendible – “Sendible is a good tool for agencies that need to have multiple users and also allows you to send approvals to clients or team members within the platform. It includes scheduling for several platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It’s not as visually appealing as others, but it is cost-effective and efficient for scheduling.”
“Deciding on an Instagram scheduler can feel overwhelming. You could choose Planoly, Later, Plannable, Hootsuite, Preview App, Facebook Creator Studio, Tailwind, Canva and more!”
Creator Studio – “If you are a solopreneur or have a small team and limited budget, I would recommend using Facebook Creator Studio.
1. Price: Facebook Creator Studio is FREE! It is built right into the Facebook platform and allows you to auto-schedule static, video and carousel posts to Instagram, as well as IGTVs. In comparison, the features on the free version of other scheduling tools (like Later or Planoly) are pretty limited.
2. Auto-schedule: As mentioned above, you can auto-schedule your Instagram posts or IGTV with Facebook Creator Studio. With most of the other Instagram scheduling tools, you will have to pay a monthly or annual fee to do this.
3. Desktop Availability: Creating and scheduling content from your computer versus your phone will save you a substantial amount of time. For some Instagram scheduler tools, like Preview App, you have to pay to access this desktop feature. This is something you can easily do with Facebook Creator Studio! If you aren’t working from your laptop/desktop to create and schedule your social posts, it’s time to make the switch.
4. Ease of Use: Using Facebook Creator Studio is pretty intuitive. It is easy to upload photos, tag a location, and add in your hashtags. You can also view your insights directly from the platform.
5. Multiple Accounts for Free: If you manage multiple Instagram accounts, no problem! Easily switch between them when scheduling content or viewing insights…at no extra charge!
Although Facebook Creator Studio is my go-to scheduler, there are a couple of features it does not have at the moment.
- You are not yet able to visually plan your feed. However, I’ve been able to get around this by using the free version of Preview App on my phone or creating a “mock-up” feed in Canva.
- You cannot schedule to Instagram Stories…yet! Although you can do this with a few other Instagram scheduler tools (usually a paid version), it is not yet possible on Facebook Creator Studio. However, I have a feeling it is coming soon.
- Not able to store hashtag sets. This isn’t a big concern for me. Save these in an excel spreadsheet, and you are golden!
If you’re looking for an easy and free Instagram scheduler to use, give Facebook Creator Studio a try!”
Agorapulse – “My hands-down favorite scheduling tool is Agorapulse. I have been using them for years for all my social scheduling needs – Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I love how easily the content calendar allows me to see ALL posts or just posts for specific platforms. And from an Instagram perspective, the ability to have saved hashtags in groups makes it super easy to add hashtags to any feed post and then schedule out my content. Although no tool currently has API access to allow scheduling of IG Stories, Agorapulse does have the option to schedule Stories to be set for a push notification to your device for publication at the set time.”
Tailwind – “Another amazing tool for scheduling on Instagram is Tailwind. They have been dedicated to Instagram and Pinterest for years and allow so much flexibility and design creativity in their publishing tools. If you’re focused on making sure your Instagram grid looks a certain way or follows a set pattern, Tailwind will make this process easy for you.”
Hootsuite – “In order to manage multiple clients, it’s important to stay organized. I love using Hootsuite. The platform is free up to three channels and after that, they have very reasonable annual fees based on how many accounts you have. You can publish directly to Instagram, which many platforms CANNOT do. This was a big win for us.
With Hootsuite, you can schedule content, create analytics reports to track your account’s progress (engagement, likes, followers, etc.) and create streams that are basically a homepage for all published posts, scheduled posts, and any posts that contain hashtags that are relevant to your brand or business. Super helpful!
Most recently, you are able to schedule Instagram stories. However, you schedule them out and are reminded to post instead of direct publishing. It’s more of a calendar reminder, but it’s a good start.”
Creator Studio – “The beauty of Facebook Business Suite is that it is built by the company that owns Instagram so the integration is seamless, there is no need to reconnect accounts or find that content has failed to post as your account has unexpectedly disconnected. You can schedule content to both Facebook and Instagram simultaneously and you can adjust the posts for each platform prior to scheduling. The interface is very user-friendly and you can preview your content in a list, calendar or grid format.”
Later – “Later is a fantastic Instagram scheduling tool with additional features that really streamline the content scheduling process. My favourite feature is saved captions which is great for saving hashtags. You can also schedule your first comment along with your post so that your hashtags sit in the comment rather than the caption. The grid preview is great too and allows you to move scheduled content around to adjust your overall aesthetic.”
“One of the most common questions we hear at REI Associates is “How do you remain consistent in scheduling social media posts?” The answer is Later.”
Later – “Later is an easy-to-use app that allows you to schedule a variety of content across your favorite social media channels. My team and I love that we can schedule Facebook and Twitter, as well as pins on Pinterest, Instagram Stories, and even TikToks. Did I mention we can also schedule the first comment on Insta? Later even suggests the hashtags we should use.
Later’s tagline is “Publish a month’s worth of social media posts in minutes” and they aren’t kidding! We save so much time using Later’s built-in media editing. Drag and drop your pictures, edit, filter, write your posts, and Later does the heavy lifting of suggesting when to schedule to optimize traffic. For those discerning marketers and influencers wanting to keep a particular Insta aesthetic, Later provides a preview feature.
Later also provides awesome analytics so you know which of your posts are driving traffic. They present your data in an understandable format so you’ll get the scoop on audience, story performance, post performance, and hashtags. If you’re not sure how to use any of these features, Later provides great tutorials, perfect for anyone new to scheduling social media posts.
As with any app, there are a few drawbacks. Later does not support LinkedIn scheduling (yet!) and you cannot schedule text only posts, but our team is able to easily work around both of these issues. Take the free version for a spin and let us know what you think!”
“I really enjoy picking social media tools with specific features that my clients can apply and understand. Over the years, I’ve seen tools and apps break out from their competition by creating quantifiable and distinct features in their offerings; becoming more than just scheduling platforms.”
Later – “My first pick is Later (free/premium). Later has been a favorite automation tool since 2017. It’s been an easy-to-integrate tool that I can teach clients to integrate on their own. The visual capability of seeing a calendar view with posts and video. The addition of hashtag recommendations, analytics, linkin.bio and the ability to share user-generated content has made this scheduling app a game-changer.”
Planoly – “Second up is Planoly (free/premium). It is an easy-to-use platform that can house all of your social media accounts. Not only do I like Planoly’s color scheme but it is also a great go-to for anyone looking to sell products by using the “sellit” feature. With Instagrams Shops becoming more popular, this is a must for someone who wants to have a storefront within their social media.”
Buffer – “Lastly, Buffer is a platform for making an investment if you’re interested in the business aspect of social media (premium). From being able to integrate your Shopify store, to strategy recommendations and analytics reporting; it incorporates the user experience (UX) side of social media. Buffer is like having a personal consultant that helps you understand how to build better branding, engagement and provides metrics on what does and doesn’t work for your business on social media.”
Preview – “This app has saved me tons of time posting hashtags on Instagram. They have the ability to create hashtag groups. The groups eliminate repetitive hashtagging for business brands. For example, I managed an automotive Instagram account that sold 30+ brands. I created hashtag groups for each brand (Lamborghini, McLaren, Mustang, Corvette, etc.) as well as a general hashtag group for cars and one for the local community. When I was ready to post, I uploaded the image, clicked on the hashtag group I wanted and BAM! The post was ready.”
Agorapulse – “Another way to schedule Instagram posts is via a social media scheduler called AgoraPulse. AgoraPulse is a highly recommended all-in-one platform that offers a straight-forward approach to scheduling for Instagram. Simply add your image, caption, hashtags and then select the date and time of the post. Everything is seamless and pain-free. AgoraPulse gives you the freedom to create your posts via desktop or an app, depending on where you are.”
Buffer – “Great capabilities and an easy-to-use interface make Buffer a great choice for posting on Instagram. I’m a “Pro” subscriber, which allows for eight profiles across five social channels (currently Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest). Each profile can store up to 100 pieces of content. At $15/month, it’s a solid value. Other offerings and subscription tiers are available on their website.
Buffer requires an Instagram business profile in order to schedule content on Instagram.
A user can create a post directly in Buffer, loading an image and writing a caption and hashtags in the composer, or you can externally manage assets (images, text, hashtags), and batch post them. Buffer allows for spontaneity, too. For example, if an event is happening right now, content can be created and published immediately, or be designated to appear in the next scheduled time slot.
The Pro version of Buffer features an engagement tab that shows:
- Posts at a glance
- How many comments a post received, and
- How many comments have yet to be answered
Using the web or mobile Instagram app, it’s possible to miss a comment.
The Buffer Engagement tab makes it convenient to access this information at a glance and makes it impossible to miss an important comment. Comments can be filtered by:
- Sentiment (negativity)
- Trolley (order-related), or
- Comments that contain questions
The efficiency of using Buffer to respond to comments is impressive. You can view comments and easily reply, bypassing the clunky web or mobile experiences where you have to click “+” to see more comments.
The above screenshot of the Engagement Tab, shows recent posts, numbers of comments that haven’t been answered and an explanation of the grid view. On the right side, a comment that hasn’t been answered is highlighted automatically and awaits a response.
Buffer:Analyze as well as Buffer’s Brand Building tools, are available only to Premium and Business subscriptions. Buffer aggregates the information for efficient access. The data on individual Instagram posts shows more detailed Reach and Engagement numbers and which posts are getting the most traction. It’s superior to the information on Business Instagram Profiles where a user needs to look at each post to find it.
Buffer:Analyze offers recommendations for frequency and best times to post. You can schedule the same slots across seven days, weekdays, or customize each day. It also allows the user to analyze the performance of hashtags including hashtags in your first comments. Schedules and posts are flexible and easy to adjust.
With a Premium account, you can schedule an IG Story with videos, single images and multiple images. The Story is queued, and users receive a mobile notification when it’s time to publish.
Buffer continues to grow and change to accommodate new features of social media channels. The company anticipates users’ needs and creates positive user experiences. They offer excellent customer service. You can take a free trial to see if you like it. That’s how I started ten years ago, and I’m still a customer.”
Later – “One platform that has continuously been our agency’s right-hand is a scheduling tool called Later. Later is an Instagram scheduling app that helps you plan and schedule your content in advance. The auto-schedule feature is one of our favorites. Nothing beats being able to focus on other aspects of your biz or social media, while Instagram posts are automatically published for you! Later even tells you what time of day is best to schedule the post, based on your audience’s activity, to ensure the best result for your post. We also love Later’s analytics tools as they allow us to better understand our audience and the content they respond best to. This insight informs our social media strategy going forward. Other notable features include their hashtag suggestions, the option to save captions, and assistance finding repurposed content.”
Agorapulse – “My first choice for Instagram scheduling will always be Agorapulse; we use it for all of our clients at Oh So Social and for our own socials. As a social media marketing agency, we’ve tested our fair share of scheduling software, and this one comes up trumps for Instagram.
One feature I love is the ability to save hashtag groups ready to paste into your Instagram posts at a touch of a button, which is a brilliant timesaver. With Agorapulse you can directly schedule a post to your feed, and you can also schedule Stories via push notifications, which is invaluable if you want to create Insta Stories campaigns in advance. Plus, you can manage your Instagram accounts all on one platform, including responding to comments and monitoring key hashtags making community management quick and simple. While the reports help you to monitor your results and prove ROI to clients.”
Later – “If you’re on a budget and on the hunt for a free option to schedule to Instagram, then Later is for you. An easy-to-use visual planner for the week, hashtag suggestions and recommendations for the best time to post based on your followers make this a great option for small businesses looking to grow their Instagram profile.”
Creator Studio – “Created and owned by Facebook, and therefore Instagram, Creator Studio is a nice free choice for your Instagram feed scheduling. It allows you to manage multiple Instagram accounts for free, while seeing your previous posts and some basic insights. The plus side of Creator Studio is IGTV scheduling and sharing content from your Facebook asset library. However, its complicated interface and its limitations make it a good choice for in-house teams but not great for agencies.”
Later – “In my experience, I’ve never found a perfect scheduling tool, but the best Instagram scheduler I’ve used to date is Later. My favorite parts about the tool are the ability to drive traffic to different URLs through Linkin.bio, schedule, preview and rearrange your posts depending on what looks best for your grid and the ability to schedule Instagram Stories. Later provides a simple visual planner for your content, hashtag suggestions and personalized insights like the best time to post. Although there are things I’d change like longer reporting timeframes (limited to three months), more detailed analytics you can find natively in Instagram, but are not available in the tool and supporting more content types like IGTV and Reels, Later is intuitive and has great resources, like their blog, to help you manage your Instagram strategy.”
Hootsuite – “Hootsuite is my go-to scheduling platform for all social media – and it’s perfect for scheduling Instagram posts. Once you’ve created the image – I use Canva for mine so that all images meet my branding requirements – it’s simple to upload to Hootsuite. You can then compose your caption and add relevant hashtags. To save time, I often copy and paste these from one of my previous Instagram posts, tweaking the list to remove any that are no longer relevant, and adding any appropriate new ones.
Hootsuite’s calendar is simple to manage and, if you have a business Instagram account, you can post directly to Insta. If you have a personal Instagram account you can still schedule via Hootsuite, but it won’t post – instead you’ll receive a notification on your phone to post when you’re ready.
One downside of scheduling Instagram through Hootsuite is that the images aren’t tagged. However it’s simple enough to edit the post afterwards to add any @mentions. And on the plus side, you can send the post to several other social media platforms at the same time – although be wary of including multiple hashtags if you do this.”
“One of the questions I’m frequently asked is what tool do I use for scheduling and monitoring posts, especially with Instagram. In truth, I don’t look further than the Social Media Site itself.”
Creator Studio – “Created and monitored by Facebook themselves, Creator Studio flew under the radar for me at least until a couple of years ago. Contrary to what the name suggests, it actually allows you to sign in or add your Instagram account as well as: schedule posts, monitor comments and interactions and even boost posts directly from the interface. Best of all, it’s completely free!
Personally, I feel like it’s an under-utilised tool. Whilst there may be many other paid options out there that can offer some, admittedly great, perks — Facebook Creator Studio allows you to manage Instagram as Facebook intends it, which helps avoid some of the issues that management software actually has – such as posts not appearing as you intend them, or sometimes posts not appearing at all.
I’ve used Creator Studio since the moment I found it, and wouldn’t use anything else if given the option.”
Onlypult – “Though I have never met anyone who has heard of this scheduling platform, it has been my favorite for over three years. It allows scheduling of IGTV and stories with swipe up links. They are constantly adding new features like the ability to save frequently used locations and hashtags. Bonus! Onlypult is very economical for people who manage several accounts.”
Later – “For my e-comm clients who benefit from adding a link in bio with each post, Later takes the cake. The platform provides a great visual of what your scheduled Instagram posts will look like. I also love the phone app for on-the-go scheduling!”
Buffer – “At The Babble Boutique, we use Buffer to schedule all of our clients’ Instagram posts. Buffer was one of the first tools that allowed you to automatically post to Instagram, which is a big reason we use it! Buffer makes it really easy to pre-schedule a ton of posts, edit the captions for each platform, and add hashtags in the first comment. You can also save groups of hashtags which makes it really easy to add hashtags to your Instagram posts. They also have a free plan if you’re just starting out or only want to use it for your personal accounts.”
Hootsuite – “We used to use Hootsuite and it’s also very intuitive. I believe they now offer direct scheduling to Instagram and have a free plan as well. Their paid plan is more expensive, but it includes message monitoring which can be useful.”
Canva – “We create many of our graphics on Canva so it’s really convenient that they now offer a scheduling option. On the paid plan, you can schedule social media content to 7 platforms, so if you’re already paying for Canva, this could be a good option.”
“Call me CONTROVERSIAL & CRAZY, but I believe that if you’re a purpose-driven personal brand or coach, obsessing over the aesthetics of your feed and keeping a tight posting schedule can actually block you from creating your most potent and successful content. Why? Because energetically, you’re not trusting yourself and your ideas which will deflect a lot of potential high ticket clients from signing up. Instead, your most magnetic and conversion-driving content (that receives comments like, “holy sh*t! did you just read my mind?”) will always come from the heart, not just your head.
So when it comes to scheduling, I encourage this:
- Create a strategic outline of your posting schedule according to your business goals and when your audience is online (which you can find out about through the tools I mention below)
- Schedule the Macro content pieces to auto post so you can save yourself time and headspace to operate your business. But definitely ALLOW FOR SOME WIGGLE ROOM with your micro content and stories, so you can leverage your authentic voice and ideas when you experience loud, intuition-led AHA moments. (don’t know what micro/macro content is? Message and ask me on instagram @dubkitty)
- Then, to boost your engagement on Instagram posts, make sure you or your social media manager spend some time right before and after those scheduled times to engage authentically with your audience and nurture your potential clients with love and openness.
For scheduling tools, I have listed my favorites below with pros and cons. But I also want to caution that whilst there are tons of amazing third-party scheduling tools out there, always ensure they are approved by Instagram/Facebook first! This could take a little research to dig up whether their claims to be “Instagram approved” are valid, but it’s totally worth it in the long run, because getting your account restricted and losing your ability to post is super frustrating! (I learned that one hard way once!)
I specialize in organic reach so my suggestions below will cover the free versions of a few scheduling tools.”
Creator Studio – “PROS (of free version):
- You can auto-post (one or multiple photos in a carousel ) to your Facebook business page & Instagram page at the same time
- You can schedule IGTVs
- You get access to free audience analytics for Facebook and Instagram in one place (once you have a following big enough to reflect useful insights
- You can look at your story performance dating really far back!
- Reliable – Won’t ever be penalized because Facebook owns Instagram and Creator Studio
CONS (of free version):
- Currently no spell check if you’re writing or editing your caption in the text box
- No visual preview grid to know what your photos will look like on your feed
- Can’t schedule REELS”
Later – “PROS (of free version):
- Great drag and drop grid “preview” for visual planning – (although it won’t show Reels or IGTV cover photos at all right now)
- Optimised for Instagram / visual content planning
- Can use “labels” to organize content by pillars or themes
- “Saved caption” option, so you can use caption templates, outlines, CTAs, or hashtag sets for example
Media storage library for future content organization and filing
CONS (of the free version):
- Required to have an Instagram “business” profile to auto-post (I chose a creator account because it gave me music functions on my story so I don’t use Later for my Instagram page).
- Can’t auto-post videos, reels or carousels
- Minimal analytics (on free plan)”
“One of the benefits of a scheduling tool is that it makes social media manager’s life so much easier. It saves time, reduces stress, and headaches about publishing on all of the accounts you are managing. Before I chose the best Instagram scheduler, I tried out a loooot of different tools. A lot!”
Creator Studio – “One of my recent favourites is Facebook Creator Studio. It is a tool that lets creators schedule content for Facebook and Instagram, monitor messages, and see insights into every post. Everything in one place! If you don’t want to pay a lot of money for a scheduling tool and plan on keeping everything in one place, Creator Studio is for you.”
Planoly – “Planoly has become my go-to scheduling app for Instagram. I have been using it exclusively for the last couple of years, having tried out others. I ultimately chose it because at that time its mobile version was more versatile than other mobile versions. I need the mobile and web versions to work really well together.
My favourite feature of Planoly is the hashtag feature. I rely on it as a place to save all my hashtags in different categories. It’s easy to edit and in a single click, I can add them to my draft post.
I recommend investing in the paid version if you will be relying on it for content creation because it enables you to schedule video posts and carousels, although it doesn’t offer you automatic posting for those content types.”
Later – “A close second is Later. It is very similar to Planoly in what it offers but I didn’t find its mobile app as sophisticated. This was about 2 years ago so things might have moved on. If you sign up with Later you get sent really useful blogs on the latest Instagram and general social media trends. These blogs really help keep me up to date and give useful tips.”
“Scheduling tools can be amazing for helping businesses to take control of their social media and helping them to be consistent with their posting. I recommend one day a week to sit and plan the content for the next week and then to schedule at least 3 posts. I have noticed with some platforms, particularly Facebook that the reach of scheduled posts does seem to be less than unscheduled so I always recommend a mix of scheduled and native posting.”
Later – “I work mainly with Instagram and my favourite scheduler has to be Later. You get so much more than just scheduling. The visual planner allows you to decide how you want your Instagram posts to appear on the grid so you can really work on your grid aesthetic and it has a really easy drag and drop formula. It also gives you the best times to post based on when your followers are online. This is available within insights on Instagram itself but the times are given in PST so working them out in UK time can be a pain.
Hashtags are key to growth for most accounts on Instagram and yet tracking the performance of hashtags in the app isn’t an option yet other than telling how many people found your post from the group of hashtags you used. Later gives you hashtags analytics so you can track the hashtags you used on each of your Instagram posts, you can work out which posts generated the most engagement and which hashtags were used on those posts. You can also save groups of hashtags.
Posting to Instagram stories is also possible in Later which is a big plus. The app allows you to resize photos for stories and add stickers, shopping tags and provides analytics for stories too.
Later’s free plan gives you 30 posts across one social set which is more than enough for most small businesses although the best time to post insights only come with the paid plans. Later’s whole brand is about adding value and I think they really deliver not only on the scheduler but also on the value add on their socials and in their weekly emails.”
Hootsuite – “My second most used scheduler is Hootsuite which I use mostly for Facebook and Twitter.
Hootsuite allows you to schedule across multiple platforms which is a huge advantage for the average business owner trying to run their own socials. I really like the Hootsuite dashboard which allows you to see all of your streams in the same place, the ability to set up social listening so that you can monitor what people are saying about your brand and respond is a big plus too. The “My Posts and Mentions” stream allows you to keep track of your activities, monitor mentions and the performance of posts. Alongside this, you can set up a “My Industry” stream, which gives the option to follow keywords and conversations to see what your competitors are talking about.
Hootsuite really just simplifies the whole business of posting different content on multiple platforms. It’s not as exciting to look at as some of the newer schedulers, but it’s really simple to use and the analytics that come with paid plans are really helpful. The fact that you have the option to see how all of your socials are performing – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter – all in one dashboard is really useful. Seeing the results side by side lets you quickly identify the social channels with the highest engagement and allows you to work out where to make changes for the best ROI.”
“Probably the best advice is to try a few out and see which works best for helping you manage your platforms and achieve your social media goals. A lot of it comes down to personal preference.”
Creator Studio – “It’s a free tool by Facebook that lets you schedule regular Instagram posts, videos, carousels and IGTV.”
Later – “Its UI is really easy to work with. Two features that stand out are the ‘Hashtag suggestion tool’ and their library of amazing presets.”
Preview – “Preview is great because it has the ‘shoppable post’ option which is a must if you have a product-based business. It also has the ability to add drag and drop to preview the look of the feed before you publish your post.”
Creator Studio – “The creator studio gives users the freedom to schedule Instagram posts in a simple, effective manner. The layout and accessibility is easy to navigate, which gives the product a high value for beginner users, while also providing scheduling services that are also utilized by larger brands. It’s simple, free, and does exactly what most people need a post scheduler to do.”
“I have listed my top scheduling tools for Instagram below.”
Later – “Later is an easy-to-use platform. It’s simple: Drag any media (image or video) from your library into the calendar. You can write a caption, tag other social media accounts (more than one), geolocate the post, and much more. At Tonara, we always plan and schedule content using Later. We’re managing 6 Instagram accounts from the platform and the experience has been amazing! The ‘Saved Captions’ feature works really well, especially for us to save branded hashtags such as #Tonara, #TonaraConnect, and #TonaraStudio. We love the fact that we’re able to add a linkin.bio. It has been extremely helpful in ensuring our audience is able to simply find the information that they need when they see one of our Instagram posts. I can’t not mention the “Thumbnail cover” feature when posting videos and the “Add First Comment” feature too.”
Creator Studio – “It’s FREE. Creator Studio is an absolute lifesaver! It saves so much time, and I don’t have to worry about manually posting to Instagram every day. You can connect as many Instagram accounts as you need and you can schedule a feed post (image and video) and IGTV. Once you create a post from Creator Studio, you can upload a file from your computer or from your Facebook Page (if connected).”
Later – “Between us, we’ve worked with lots of schedulers and whilst none are perfect, as business owners, Later ticks a lot of the boxes and is what we use for Nutshell. Much like Instagram itself, the emphasis is on the visual. Most other schedulers will have you start with the message and attach the picture but Later starts with the visual. You can upload unlimited photos/videos to the media library and easily keep track of which have been used. We love the visual planner where you can drag and drop your posts to see how they fit with the wider aesthetic of the grid. You can schedule your posts and stories (push notifications for stories) and whilst it’s centered around Instagram, you can also manage Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest from the same dashboard. It lacks the social listening features that other platforms offer and the analytics are a little basic but what it does do, it does well. It’s simple and reliable and the paid for packages are great value for money.”
Creator Studio – “We often recommend this, as the native scheduler for Instagram and Facebook it’s a great (free) content hub for uploading, scheduling, publishing, monitoring, and tracking your content…and it avoids any API issues. Great for video and as it’s hosted in your Facebook account, it saves the need for yet another App. You can schedule posts and IGTV at present. Overall it’s a stripped-back content management tool, popular with both business owners and social media managers.”
Agorapulse – “In terms of managing multiple platforms for a number of clients, Agorapulse is our winner. We can’t find many flaws in it tbh. It’s pretty intuitive and keeps things nice and tidy. The shared calendar feature is a winner in terms of collaborating with clients – you can give them a login to view scheduled and published content and to send content approvals. The analytics also won us over.”
“If your focus is primarily on Instagram and you’re looking for a reliable scheduler – keep it simple and stick to Later.
If you have a bit more money in the pot and need a solution for multiple channels, accounts and collaborations then we’d recommend checking out Agorapulse.”
SmarterQueue – “SmarterQueue has been an amazing Instagram scheduling tool for both myself and my team as we schedule our clients’ Instagram content. The platform has some awesome features, such as analytics, feed preview, category organization, and more. Their support team is also stellar, which I think is equally important as the features the platform offers.
They also very recently released auto-publishing for Instagram with the option to leave the first comment for hashtags, which has already saved my team SO much time!”
Planoly – “My favorite scheduling tool for Instagram is Planoly. The tool is super handy for managing multiple Instagram accounts from your phone (it has a free app for iPhone and Android) and from desktop.
Planoly gives its users the ability to automatically post Instagram content so social media users and managers can schedule content in advance and have it post at a future date and time.
Additional features include Instagram Story scheduling, analytics, hashtag organization (which removes the need for storing hashtags in multiple places), content management, and the ability to loop in other users for quick content approval.
We also love that Planoly is based in our hometown of Austin, Texas and is a woman-led business!”
“If you are focusing mostly on Instagram, there are two that I like that specialize in Instagram, and aren’t super expensive: Later and Planoly.”
Later – “Later is a nice tool as it allows you to schedule Instagram posts, retain a media library that you can pull from whenever you want, and comment on posts within the tool. They also have analytics that shows you information on followers, impressions, reach, and best-performing Instagram posts to better inform your future posts. You can also enter a hashtag to search for other user-generated content for ideas about what others in your industry are publishing, AND they will give you ideas for other hashtags to use. Finally, they offer Linkinbio, which is their tool to allow you to post multiple links on your Instagram bio (normally you can have only one link.) It does allow you to post or schedule posts to Facebook, TikTok or Pinterest as well. If you only use those platforms, it can be a one-stop-shop for you.”
Planoly – “Planoly has very similar features to Later in terms of scheduling, analytics, user-generated content, and hashtag suggestions. They do not offer a tool like Linkinbio. However, they do offer some capabilities to add a shop to your Instagram profile. Planoly posts to Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. They do not currently have access to TikTok.”
“There are some minor differences between these two schedulers, but if Instagram is your focus, you can’t go wrong with either one!”
“Most of the Instagram scheduling tools have the same basic scheduling, analytics, and hashtag-recommendation functionality. Therefore, when selecting a scheduling tool, I look for something “extra”. These 3 tools are the go-to-tools:”
Onlypult – “Onlypult is one of the few (if not the only tool) that allows scheduling of stories and carousel posts. Make your stories more engaging by adding questions/polls/tagging others. Scheduling stories via desktop is a must-have if you do a lot of video editing. Onlypult also makes loading of large-size videos a lot more user-friendly (many other schedulers require you to load videos to Dropbox first). If you want to compare the performance of your feed post vs. story, you can do it in a streamlined insights view. While it does have a number of advanced features, Onlypult is still quite simple and cost-efficient for beginners.”
Tailwind – “Tailwind, the original Pinterest scheduler, recently added an Instagram scheduling option. My favorite feature is the smart-scheduling functionality: simply drag-and-drop your content into suggested time-slots based on the best times to post. Another noteworthy feature is ranking hashtags by relevance (niche, good, best, competitive). It helps you with choosing the best hashtags and avoiding the banned ones. Tailwind grid preview helps you see how your content will appear to the end-users: re-arrange the posts if you do not like the order. Note: You do need to connect your Instagram page to your Facebook profile for automatic scheduling.”
Creator Studio – “We’ve tested direct Facebook/Instagram scheduling vs. scheduling via 3-rd party apps. In 9 out of 10 cases, the same post performed better if scheduled directly (i.e. via Creator Studio). While it may not be feature-rich as other schedulers, Creator Studio does offer hashtag recommendations and the ability to cross-post to Facebook.”
“It makes sense to want to schedule Instagram posts in advance. Not only does it save you time, it also means that you are thinking about your content and planning your message and image in advance so it will have purpose.
A scheduling tool is helpful in many ways and not least because consistent, high-quality content is easier to plan, create and share when the process is automated.
My first tip however is to check the type of Instagram account you have; depending on what you do, you can choose between an Instagram Creator Profile and an Instagram Business Profile, so check which is right for you.”
Creator Studio – “With so many scheduling tools to choose from it can be overwhelming to chose one, but I find that Creator Studio from Facebook is a great tool with easy-to-use features and best of all for a small business owner – is is free to use!
Once you connect your Instagram to Creator Studio you can plan, create and schedule your content – including scheduling to IGTV too!
You can upload videos, photographs and use the carousel feature to create and schedule content. You can include your location, tag others and you can crop images if needed. There is an easy-to-use drop-down to choose the date and time to schedule your IG post.
Creator Studio is easy to use, it will save a heap of time and if you are a start-up business, solopreneur or small business then the fact that Creator Studio is free to use is sure to appeal! Creator Studio is a great scheduling tool to plan your content, post consistently and engage and grow your business on Instagram.
Creator Studio gives you fairly basic insights though, but you will see your engagement figures and clicks to website stats.”
Planoly – “This well-designed scheduling tool is a game-changer for my social media management business! While it has many of the basic features that most planning apps have (like auto-posting), Planoly is a step-up for anyone who wants to maintain an on-brand aesthetic. Their drag-and-drop feature lets you rearrange Instagram posts until everything looks just right. Another Planoly feature that seals the deal for me is their sticky-notes tool. You can add notes to the calendar, creating a content guide for yourself as you plan the month in advance. I use recurring notes, to ensure I cover all of my content pillars equally throughout the month. They really keep my content calendar consistent!
Another essential feature of Planoly is their equally strong phone and desktop versions. I personally prefer the desktop version, but the phone app is great too! Speaking of the desktop version – it’s dreamy for using their analytics tab. You can filter metrics by date, compare stats to the prior month, and filter top Instagram posts by reach, likes, comments, etc. I use these analytics in monthly reports for my clients and it helps us in making decisions for future content.”
Preview – “Preview has really raised the bar when it comes to responding to user-requests. Aside from drag-and-drop design features and stellar in-app filters, I love their caption suggestions and in-app hashtag recommendations! It’s a one-stop shop, and great for folks just getting started on Instagram. The one hang up: they don’t do auto-posting, so you have to set up a push-notification, and then post manually on your own. As someone who manages 10+ Instagram accounts, this is a deal-breaker for me. But I still give the app lots of love when recommending tools to new IG users. Plus their IG account is super educational and fun (@thepreviewapp).”
“I don’t know about you, but waking up at 5am to share an Instagram post doesn’t fit into my solopreneur schedule. Planning Instagram posts in advance has been KEY in my ability to show up on social media consistently but I can only make it happen when I schedule my content in advance.”
Planoly – “Planoly allows you to create a stockpile of graphics and photos which makes planning an eye-catching grid easier than guessing what to share one post at a time. You can create carousels, upload videos, and even plan out Stories in advance. This means you can create all of your Instagram posts in one day and spend the rest of your week focused on engagement and connecting with your audience.
Plus they’re always adding and updating features to keep up with the ever-changing algorithm so you can show up consistently no matter what Instagram comes up with next.”
Inssist – “Inssist is an awesome tool for Instagram scheduling and management. The pro version is only $7.99 and has features such as analytics, scheduling, profile audits, direct messages, carousel scheduling, the ability to download users’ stories, and a hashtag assistant to help you find the best hashtags! The biggest and most useful feature of this tool is that it emulates a mobile version of IG, so it lets you post stories and reels directly from the web browser! Furthermore, it’s a simple chrome extension!”
Preview – “This tool is amazing if you only have one instagram account to manage. It costs $149.99/year so it’s super friendly for small businesses! This tool also allows you to schedule Instagram posts, save hashtags for future use, includes analytics, access to over 500,000+ copyright free images, the ability to drag and drop your posts to design your feed, and the ability to regram other users’ photos and videos!”
Buffer – “Buffer is awesome because it also includes publishing features, along with in-depth analytics capabilities. The analytics will allow you to set what day and time slots are best for your IG performance. You then add your posts to the queue and they are automatically put into those pre-determined slots! One of the most useful features of Buffer is that it lets you put your hashtags in the first comment of the post, rather than inside the caption. Lastly, it has an engagement section where you can see all the latest comments from your audience members. It also keeps track of what comments you have responded to and which ones you haven’t! The price ranges from $15/mo for publishing and $45/mo for publishing and analytics. Definitely a must-have!”
Publer – “I started using this fun little publishing tool last year after discovering it through AppSumo and I’m hooked! I love how clean and simple it is, while also packing such a powerful punch. I can create posts for numerous channels, including Instagram, all at once and then edit by platform thus ensuring my content is optimized for each channel. There are no broken handles on my social channels! They provide analytics, enable bulk uploading, allow for easy reposting of old content and a whole lot more. But its true strength is its simple interface which allows you to create and optimize content for all your channels at once, unlike most of its bigger-name competitors in the space which require separate posts for each platform.”
Creator Studio – “Until recently, there were very few ways to post to Instagram from a desktop, much less to schedule content in advance. Instagram recently opened up their API, allowing third-party tools to get in on the fun. But before that, Facebook added the ability to post to Instagram on desktop straight from their Creator Studio. It’s not the prettiest interface, but it gets the job done. You can post and schedule Instagram content right from your Facebook account. You can even pull content from your Facebook page to post to your Instagram account. A good option for those looking to keep their third-party tools to a minimum.”
Hootsuite – “Hootsuite is the scheduling system we use day-to-day in the OCOCO Media office, as it’s packed with features, regularly updated, and perfect for managing multiple campaigns/platforms.
For Instagram, both Stories and posts can be scheduled, and the analytics available enables users to take a much deeper dive into their performance on the network. Strategy development is a core part of the work we do, and having detailed, live performance reporting at your fingertips means that much more responsive campaigns can be run.
You’re able to view everything you need at a dashboard glance, and knowledge is power when it comes to maximising every social media opportunity.”
Buffer – “For those looking for a simpler interface, we’d recommend Buffer. That said, it’s by no means basic and the level of attention paid to addressing Insta-specific challenges is impressive.
I’m a particular fan of Buffer’s Hashtag Manager feature, making it easy to store and retrieve sets of hashtags on their system. This is perfect for speedy scheduling, and simplifies testing, so you’re able to continuously improve your performance and reach. The best part? You can choose to include your hashtags in the caption text, or in a first comment that goes live when your post does.
Buffer also offers a clever Shop Grid option, helping to solve “link in bio” dilemmas once and for all. Shop Grid recreates your Instagram grid, but with added hyperlinks, improving traffic flow to your website, and enabling you to direct individual Instagram posts to specific URLs.
All of the above is in addition to creating and scheduling stories and posts, accessing improved analytics and even setting up internal approval systems.”
Creator Studio – “Creator Studio is my preferred scheduling tool to use, and best of all, it’s completely free! You don’t need to connect it to your Instagram account via a third-party app, so accessing it is as easy as going through the Publishing Tools tab on the left side of your connected Facebook page. Creator Studio allows you to schedule Instagram posts and videos in advance, while some competitors have limitations on posting videos to Instagram on their free subscriptions. The other perks of this platform include the ability to see the results of your past posts, manage your comments and DMs and add relevant or popular hashtags into your captions.”
Later – “My second favourite scheduling platform is Later App. Its super easy to use interface makes it perfect for seeing your content in a month-by-month calendar. You’re also able to view your Instagram feed layout which is great if you’re making a curated feed. With inbuilt analytics and the ability to add a first comment on the competitively price paid version, one thing to keep an eye on with Later is that it can occasionally disconnect from your Instagram account. This means you’ll need to go into the settings and reconnect the platform to continue being able to share your Instagram posts. Otherwise, Later is simple to use and will be a saviour when it comes to planning your content in advance.”
Later – “Later is one of the best Instagram scheduling tools I’ve ever worked with. Not only do they have a robust content scheduler for both Instagram In-Feed and Instagram Story content, but their analytics reporting is full of great metrics for business owners and brands to track. Later’s analytics features are also really intuitive to run through. This tool makes collaboration with various stakeholders easy. The tool also flags image files that have been used before – so you don’t post the same visual twice. Part of their paid application is their Linkin.bio feature for your Instagram profile – which makes it easy to update profile links. You can also track conversations and find user-generated content by hashtag for easy sharing. It’s great Later covers the function of so many different apps in one. We use this Instagram scheduling tool to manage our agency accounts and manage our client accounts, too. But it’s versatile enough to help a startup business, too!”
HubSpot – “In this day and age, there are plenty of software/platforms that focus solely on social media content scheduling, monitoring etc. The one platform I’ve been using and want to recommend (and am a big fan of) is not necessarily a social media scheduling tool, but rather a marketing software – HubSpot. It is an Inbound marketing, sales and customer service hub where all your efforts are consolidated in one place. Going back to the topic of this survey, HubSpot also offers a social media content scheduling tool – including Instagram. What I love about it is that it is easy to use, you can schedule, monitor and analyze content not only by itself, but also see how it relates/affects other marketing and sales efforts across your digital channels. However, it is a pricey software and wouldn’t make sense to use for many businesses. My recommendation is based on experience working with mostly marketing agencies that extensively use HubSpot.”
Planable – “We use Planable for scheduling content for our clients and it’s a lifesaver. Especially useful if you’re planning content between multiple people because you can have one dashboard with multiple logins. You can upload Stories and feed posts, and other members of your team can ‘approve’ the content to go live or add comments with feedback.”
Later – “Undeniably great and a big leader in the space. As well as having all the features you’d expect from an Instagram scheduling tool, Later also has a brilliant blog full of social media tips. Would definitely recommend following them on Instagram to stay up to date with trends, tips, and best practices on the channel.”
Creator Studio – “It may seem a little crazy, but I can’t recommend Facebook Business Manager (Creator Studio) enough. I have tried lots of scheduling tools and Facebook has done a lot of work on Business Manager recently. Plus, there is a lot to be said about using tools that are already built into the platform. Not only can I schedule my, and my clients’, Instagram posts via Business Manager, but I can schedule them to Facebook at the same time. I can create separate captions for Facebook versus Instagram, which is great if I want to include a link on Facebook since I obviously don’t want that on Instagram.
On top of that, I can see a list of my scheduled Instagram posts, check out what my grid is looking like, and check out the analytics on recent postings. We all know Facebook wants us to use their tools, so there is no risk of it negatively affecting your page’s edge rank; in fact, it’s more likely to boost it. It’s quick to use, already built-in, and allows everyone that has access to the page access to what has already been scheduled. There is of course the added bonus that it is free.”
Hootsuite – “Dify Social has been using the Hootsuite social media management scheduling platform for it’s own posts and that of our Australian small business clients for almost a decade.
The basic free plan is perfectly adequate for small business owners with capacity to add three social media channels.
We typically add the LinkedIn company page, Facebook page and business Instagram account. We also use IFTTT so that Instagram posts are also sent through to Twitter.
In the main, we post daily or every second day for our clients and whilst other (paid) professional plans enable ‘auto scheduling’ we simply use a common sense approach i.e. post before work (9am), lunchtime (12-2pm) and or after work (before 6.30pm).
Hootsuite’s support is available to all plans and they provide considerable resources via the blog etc. I’ve tried other platforms, but am somewhat ‘rusted on’ to the owl!”
Later – “The social media manager’s best friend! I love Later because it allows me to visually see how my Instagram profile grid looks and feels with the “preview” feature. I love how I can schedule posts across Facebook and Instagram and edit them individually unlike some scheduling tools.
You have access (with the paid version) to an unlimited bank of stock images via Unsplash, as well as saved captions and hashtag suggestions. The analytics are also great and gives you an easy breakdown of metrics to see how your content is performing.
You can schedule stories as well, which is a game changer! I also really love the training they provide as well as blogs and articles to help you develop your knowledge and keep up to date on social media breaking news and trending topics.
Prices start from around $19 a month but I feel it’s worth it!”
“When it comes to scheduling content for Instagram there are so many options it can become overwhelming! Depending on your needs I recommend Planoly, Facebook Creator Studio, and The Preview App.”
Planoly – “Planoly is one of my favorite Instagram schedulers to use for my clients. One of the biggest reasons I trust Planoly is because it is an official Instagram partner so I’m not concerned about any Instagram accounts being flagged for using it. I want to make sure the platforms I’m using for my client’s accounts are approved by Facebook and Instagram since their Terms and Service are always being updated.
Another great feature of Planoly is it allows you to plan out your Instagram grid before it goes live, you can drag and drop pictures, video, gifs and rearrange them in your desired grid. You can create draft folders of different content, create hashtag groups, and if you need your Instagram posts to be approved by a client or manager before they go live, Planoly offers a Share feature that creates a link to the scheduled content! Auto-scheduling is an option for videos and one-post images (you do have to manually post stories and carousels, but you can schedule them and receive an alert on your phone for that time!) Planoly also gives you the option to auto-share each post to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Another cool feature is being able to auto-post the first comment. This is useful for when you don’t want your hashtags to show up in your caption or want to share more about the post in that first comment. Also, if you need help managing comments, Planoly provides an easy-to-use social inbox, to efficiently respond to your community!
From my research, I found that Planoly is also one of the more affordable scheduling tools especially if you are running more than one Instagram account. For those that only have one account, Planoly is free and includes basic analytics. For more than one Instagram account and advanced analytics, pricing starts at $7 a month. You can access Planoly both on its app for Android and Apple, as well as on your desktop.”
Creator Studio – “For those that might not need as many features, like planning out your Instagram grid beforehand, or if you post a lot of the same content on both Facebook and Instagram, then Facebook Creator Studio is a great option. Everyone with a Facebook page can access Creator Studio. For more information on how to access Creator Studio, check out Facebook’s FAQ.
You’ll need to make sure your Facebook Page is connected to Instagram to use the scheduling tools, but it allows you to auto-post pictures and carousels; most scheduler tools do not allow auto-posting more than one picture to Instagram! You’ll have access to Instagram’s basic analytics, a content calendar, and Brand Collab Manager. For each post, you can add hashtags, a location, and pictures. Plus it is free to use! You can access Creator Studio on your desktop.”
Preview – “The Preview App is a newer scheduling tool, but I had a chance to use it for a year with a client and I loved the different features it offers. I would recommend Preview for someone who is super focused on creating an aesthetically pleasing Instagram grid and might not always know what to post! They offer multiple themed photo filter options that can create a gorgeous, influencer-worthy grid. They also offer similar features to Planoly like a content calendar, arranging your grid before posting, analytics, and scheduling posts. If you pay for the premium version, their caption finder offers thousands of caption ideas, quotes, suggestions, and more! Their hashtag finder is just as useful and contains handpicked hashtags based on different categories. Preview makes it effortless to plan your content quickly and in advance. They also offer the ability to add team members, another straightforward way to review Instagram posts before they go live.
Preview is free for one user and basic features. For the Premium Version, which has the caption and hashtag finder, it is $12.50 a month and you’ll have access to the desktop version instead of only the app!”
“Whatever Instagram scheduling tool you go with remember Instagram will always be updating and changing what its third-party apps have access to and they might eventually allow us to schedule directly from their app one day!”
“So nothing beats posting on Instagram live. It’s the only way to post all formats (I’m talking Reels here, which are huge at the moment) and definitely know you are making that fussy algorithm happy. However, using an Instagram scheduler means you can batch create content, which saves time and plan your posts to be delivered when your audience is online.
So here are my favourites…”
Agorapulse – “This is my current scheduler of choice. It’s quite new to the market and allows you to post images, videos, stories and carousels to your Instagram. My favourite features on this are tagging, Hashtag management and listening abilities. Also the reporting is excellent and saves so much time.”
Planoly – “This is a great starter scheduler. It’s free/cheap, super easy to use and you can see exactly what your feed will look like. You can store hashtags, create placeholders for content and auto post the first comment. My only word of warning is when checking insights, as they aren’t always accurate in my experience.”
Creator Studio – “This scheduler sits inside the Facebook offering and allows you to manage your content across all your pages for free. It has an emphasis on video and allows you to schedule across your feed, Stories and IGTV. It’s a bit clunky and can be glitchy and the insights are fairly basic, but as it sits in the Facebook platform, I guess it’s the algorithms scheduler of choice.”
Planoly – “Planoly is the go-to scheduling tool if you are after a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing Instagram feed. Planning the visual elements of your Instagram can take time, but the drag and drop tool from Planoly is a visual lifesaver. As one of the few tools that allows users to plan and schedule Instagram stories, Planoly is doing an awesome job at sticking at the front of the pack.”
Hootsuite – “If you need to plan feeds for multiple social media channels, and are less concerned about the visual aspect of your feed, Hootsuite is your go-to. Its seamless integration between channels, as well as the advanced analytics, makes every social media manager’s dream a reality.”
Later – “Later.com is at the top of my list for Instagram scheduling tools. It makes it easy to plan out and schedule Instagram posts ahead of time and allows you to see what future posts will look like in your feed. What I love most about Later as a marketing agency owner is the ability to share post previews with clients. This scheduling platform has a free option if you don’t have the budget to pay for a scheduling tool.”
Creator Studio – “Facebook Creator Studio is a free option provided by Facebook to plan out posts for both Facebook and Instagram. If you just want to use it to schedule Instagram posts, you’re welcome to do that as well. It’s not the most aesthetic out of all the scheduling tools available but it gets the job done.”
UNUM – “One of my favorite scheduling apps for Instagram would have to be UNUM! I am absolutely obsessed with their modern features. UNUM makes it super easy to schedule your content and format your feed in case you have a particular aesthetic you hope to maintain. Not to mention they have custom templates for Stories, story highlights, and more that help you to stand out in a rather saturated market/platform.”
Later – “I also enjoy scheduling content via Later! Later is an app that allows you to access and plan out your content via your iPhone or your desktop. This simple feature is incredibly useful because you can auto-schedule Instagram posts. Meaning you will be able to select the time and day that your content will be posted. Later saves tons of time and relieves posting anxiety. Not to mention you can also schedule your captions/copy and stories to post at the same time as your post. That way Instagram is more likely to push your post to more people (increasing engagement) because it will seem as if you’re engaging on “the gram” even though you may be preoccupied.
As a scheduling app Later goes the extra mile! You can even auto-publish hashtags or tag people in your photos! Later is the perfect go-to scheduling app for any marketing professional or social media lover!”
Agorapulse – “My favorite tool for scheduling content for Instagram business accounts is AgoraPulse. It allows you to create content to automatically push out as well as the option for carousel posts and stories to be sent through push notifications to your mobile device to then publish in realtime. This platform also gives you the option to create hashtag bundles right in the tool so you no longer have to cobble your hashtags together day after day, you can build bundles ahead of time and use when relevant to your content. Finally, AgoraPulse gives you robust reporting metrics for Instagram business profiles as well as functionality I use monthly for my clients to track success and how our strategy is tracking with their goals for the quarter.”
Buffer – “Easy to use and my personal favourite. I’ve used several Instagram publishing tools, but Buffer is the one I prefer. The only thing I miss is a bulk uploading feature. But there is a third-party app called BulkBuffer to use for that. Buffer also has a visual planning feature for stories and you can schedule your first comment which is really nice. In the paid plan you also have access to hashtag manager, publishing of stories, shop grid, and many more features.”
Hootsuite – “My second choice is Hootsuite, and I like this tool since you can schedule Instagram carousel posts and stories and also add streams for hashtags, your posts and scheduled posts. You can plan, schedule, review, and publish content directly to your Business Profile from both desktop and app. You can also monitor social conversations, bulk schedule content, and track post-performance. Like other tools, Hootsuite has a free plan, but I recommend using a paid plan depending on your needs.”
Later – “I haven’t used this tool as much as the other two, but I like the visual planner and features Later offers. With Later you can plan in calendar view and preview posts with the Instagram planner and bulk upload to save time. You can search for content by users, likes and hashtags and also repost them. In the free version, you can save captions for easy re-use which is a really nice feature. If you need features like a shoppable feed with links or be able to see the best times to post you need to get one of the paid plans.”
“There are so many social media scheduling tools on the market nowadays all promising you better performance, analytics and ease of use. However, every person’s needs are different and it will depend on many factors to determine which scheduling tool is best for you and your business. So before cashing out on advanced management suites, you first need to figure out exactly what you need and what you don’t.
- Are you looking for a free option or are you ready to pay?
- What are the social media platforms you want to schedule too?
- How many social media accounts do you have?
- Do you need to plan your Instagram posts as well as schedule?
- Will you need someone to authorise your posts before they are scheduled?
- Do you need analytics and or reporting?
- Are you looking to integrate it with third-party tools?
- Do you want to manage and engage with your followers through the tool?
Most of the clients I work with are small and medium-sized businesses that have between 3 to 5 social media platforms they are managing. For this the 3 tools below are my favourite:”
Buffer – “I love buffer!
- It is a very simple and extremely intuitive tool.
- It is so easy and quick to publish multiple pieces (or the same content) across multiple platforms and adjust accordingly.
- Buffer has a chrome extension that can help you share any piece of content from your browser.
- It has a free option (3 platforms) but the real value is in their paid options which start from only $15/month for up to 8 platforms.
- You have awesome analytics and in one click you can re-share a post you have previously posted.
- They are always developing their tools and have recently added an Instagram engagement tab.”
Creator Studio – “This is a relatively new free tool by Facebook to help you schedule and manage your posts and stories across Facebook and Instagram. I have to admit the UX could be better, however for all the things you are getting for free it is definitely an excellent contender if you are only posting to Facebook and Instagram.
- You can schedule and auto-publish multi-photos in Instagram posts which you can’t do on a lot of other third-party tools.
- You can schedule IGTV
- You have powerful analytics, especially for video content.
- Anybody who has the right to manage the account can also add, delete and amend scheduled Instagram posts.”
Later – “This is a very popular tool especially for Instagram users due to the visual aspect of the tool. The platform has now expanded to service other social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
- It’s easy to schedule and comment on your Instagram posts without leaving the tool.
- Good analytics
- Hashtag research is integrated into the tool, as well as curation.
- Later’s visual calendar helps you keep track of your scheduled posts.”
“My 3 Tools…”
Creator Studio – “It’s seamless and rarely glitches so doesn’t leave you high and dry when you’ve scheduled really timely content over the weekend!”
Onlypult – “Allows you to schedule Instagram stories which is a lifesaver as it’s one of the few that don’t require you to have to be on your phone to schedule in this type of content.”
Falcon – “A great piece of software that allows easy sign off of Instagram content without the need for Google sheets! It’s easy to use and easy for the client to see your content mocked up rather than piecing together and visualising multiple spreadsheet columns!”
“Scheduling tools for social media can be amazing, as they allow you to create content ahead of time that you want to capitalise on, whether that’s a certain event, date in the calendar or the release of a new product. However, you can’t just create a month’s worth of content, upload it and think that’s your job done for the rest of the month! Social media is so much more than that, it’s a two-way communication stream between you and your fans. Scheduling social content should just be a supplementary tool that allows you to have more time throughout the month to be reactive to the external climate, whether that be jumping on a latest trend or commenting on something related to your brand. It is easy to think that because you have scheduled in some content your social media will thrive, but that simply won’t cut it.
I would say it’s powerful at saving time, to allow you to do more to grow your channel such as communicate with your audience, engage with followers, creating timely content and adapting to the climate, which this past year has taught us – is forever changing!”
“There is no easy answer when it comes to choosing a scheduling tool for Instagram, because one size does not fit all. They all offer different functionalities. It depends on how you use the platform and what other social media channels you would like to schedule to.”
Creator Studio – “Personally I always recommend my clients to start with Facebook’s Creator Studio. It’s free to use, you can schedule to the Instagram feed or to IGTV, and simply click a button and schedule to it to Facebook too (although I would recommend editing the Facebook post to just include 2-3 hashtags rather than the 30 you’ve included for Instagram!). It’s simple, native to the platform and you can guarantee that Facebook will be adding more features in the future!”
Hootsuite – “But if you want to schedule to other platforms at the same time such as LinkedIn or Twitter. Then you might want to look at Hootsuite. It offers a whole host of other tools such as responding to comments in the app as well as the option to search for content to share.”
“I would suggest you sit down and make a list of what you want the scheduling tool to do eg schedule to IGTV, schedule stories, schedule in comments with your hashtags, create carousel posts. Think about your budget and what other platforms you want to cross-post to at the same time. Is detailed data important to you, do you want to be able to comment on Instagram posts within the scheduling tool?
Then do your research into the functions available from the various scheduling tools available that meet your business objectives.”
Agorapulse – “My favourite scheduling tool at the moment is Agorapulse. It’s a little pricier than some of the other options, but the reporting is second to none. If you or your clients need thorough, in-depth beautifully-presented reports in minutes (if that) then it’s the way to go. The customer service is also the best and fastest I’ve come across so far.
It also has a Chrome extension that allows you to quickly schedule any image that’s on your screen. Great timesaver!”
Later – “This one lets you see your planned grid as you schedule Instagram posts which is really helpful, especially if you have a strict aesthetic that you want to stick to. I also like the easy integration with Dropbox and Google Drive.
Later has a feature called Linkin.bio, which allows you to easily direct followers to various links that correspond to your posts, neatly getting around Instagram’s no live links policy (you can use Linkin.bio without using Later as a scheduler).”
Hootsuite – “It’s a little clunkier than the others, but I like the fact you can upload hundreds of Instagram posts in one go, and the separate feed and planner views are handy.”
Creator Studio – “For 99% of my clients, I use Facebook’s native publishing platform, Creator Studio. It’s simple, easy to use and it doesn’t cost a thing. If all you want to do is schedule Instagram posts, write captions and tag other users, it has everything you need.”
Later – “If you want something with added bells and whistles, Later is a great option if you’re willing to pay a small subscription fee. Later offers a visual planner, which is great for accounts who want to curate the look of their feed as a whole. It also has a suite of analytic tools that can be useful for some businesses. I like how easy it is to bulk upload multiple photos and then drag and drop them into a client’s feed to get a cohesive look.”
Later – “Later is my favourite Instagram scheduling tool. It’s super intuitive and although I try new tools from time to time I keep coming back to Later. I like being able to visually plan my content. With Later you can drop your content in the planner and drag them around to see how the grid will look and make changes if necessary. I also prefer my hashtags to be in the first comment. This can also be done with Later.”
Creator Studio – “Facebook Creator Studio was actually launched some time ago, but until recently I was still scheduling Instagram posts and Facebook posts using third-party software like MavSocial and CoSchedule. While these were incredibly helpful, I recently switched to only using Creator Studio instead for a variety of reasons.
When I first logged in to use it, however, I was pretty confused by several different features, so if you’re new to using Creator Studio, here is a brief overview of what you can do, and a little bit about why I switched from another platform.
- You can schedule all of your Facebook and Instagram posts to any pages you manage. While the user interface is not my favorite (I would love to have options for different views rather than only a list), you can see what has been published, scheduled, or saved as a draft. In addition, you can see insights for all of your Facebook and Instagram posts as well as any Instastories, which is incredibly helpful to have curated in one place.
- For Instagram, you can easily add hashtags and mentions. In fact, Creator Studio will show you exactly how many hashtags and mentions you have left for easy scheduling. It also suggests similar hashtags, which I wouldn’t 100% rely on, but is a helpful tool for some quick additions. You can also add platform-friendly emojis to all your posts.
- All items will post natively to your feed. Right now, Creator Studio is the only tool that will allow native scheduled publishing on Instagram (along with locations, mentions, and even hashtags). This is a huge benefit for marketers and business owners.
- Schedule your IGTV posts. As of today, Creator Studio is the only way you can schedule IGTV posts in advance. This includes uploading a custom thumbnail and posting it to your feed. If you are making videos for Instagram, this is the BEST way to schedule them!”
Hopper HQ – “Hopper has one of the most crucial features when planning Instagram content – grid view! You can easily drag and drop posts to rearrange your calendar so the feed looks its best. It allows auto-posting (including carousel posts) and schedules across 4 platforms, including Instagram. It also has handy tools like bulk uploading, copying posts across platforms, and hashtag searching.”
Later – “Later is an excellent option for scheduling, although it doesn’t allow auto-posting carousels which is a drawback. It has an in-app media library with a great tagging system to organise content options. It is also one of the best schedulers for analytics, with data being held for three months and custom date reporting options. One of Later’s additional tools, which can come in very handy, is the addition of “link in bios” when creating a post, allowing a way around Instagram’s lack of direct linking from captions.”
Planoly – “Planoly is an Instagram planning and scheduling tool. I love Planoly for its ease of use and the ability to visualise the grid posts in the Instagram format. You can use the app or access it on your desktop (this is the main way I use it, but the app is useful if you want to make changes on the go). It has an intuitive drag and drop functionality which I like as it means it’s easy to play around with grid designs. There is a calendar view which I don’t use much but for a more seasonal business, this could be useful. The auto-posting functionality is great and the hashtag library will save you lots of time. You can also post to Facebook as well but this is part of the paid version.”
Creator Studio – “I am increasingly using the Creator Studio on Facebook to create and schedule my posts. Last year they made it possible to schedule Instagram content and it’s great to have it all in one place. The functionality is getting better and better and you have access to all of your historical content. On top of this, the Creator Studio is free. The one drawback is not having a visual representation of what content may look like on the grid, so I still use other schedulers for this purpose.”
Agorapulse – “I’ve been using this app for quite some time now, maybe around 3 years. In terms of social media community management and social listening, it’s absolutely wonderful. But what it really excels in is its editorial calendar for each social media platform and how it makes it very simple and straightforward, allowing digital marketing professionals like myself to publish content on multiple platforms with one click. Also, the way in which it displays scheduled content gives you a great bird-eye view of what your brand is planning in terms of campaigns and makes it easier to evaluate your content publishing strategy.”