Let me start off with the default caveat here: Instagram and its algorithm will always reward those who are on the app over those who use third-party apps for content. It just makes sense: they can’t show ads to someone who isn’t on there. If you want to use a scheduler, please remember to invest time actually on Instagram and use the apps primarily as supplemental helpers.
I’d rather spend a few hours one day knocking out my content and stat analysis than spread that out over less time, but more days, posting natively to Instagram.
That said, you know I’m pro-batching whenever you can. I’d rather spend a few hours one day knocking out my content and stat analysis than spread that out over less time, but more days, posting natively to Instagram.
But look, I know money can be tight for entrepreneurs on a budget so I want to make sure you’re able to hit the ground running as quickly as possible and with your investments optimized. So which app gives you the most bang for your buck? I gave the most popular Instagram scheduling apps a go and here’s what I’ve found to be the best Instagram scheduling app for entrepreneurs like me (and you!), plus an update for 2022 now that Facebook /Meta is allowing all businesses access to their API. Let’s dive in!
I know money can be tight for entrepreneurs on a budget so I want to make sure you’re able to hit the ground running as quickly as possible and with your investments optimized.
Every case will be different so let me first break down what I’m looking for when judging what the top Instagram scheduling app is for my situation:
- I need an app that handles multiple accounts (I run this platform and a lifestyle blog. Because apparently, I don’t have enough things to do.)
- I want the ability to add the first comment. This is more of a nitpicky thing for me. I’ll use the first comment to add my hashtags or create a question that my followers can answer that’s relevant to the post.
- I need an app that can schedule multiple formats of posts. I know that the API doesn’t currently allow auto-posting of carousels, but I still want the ability to post short videos, gifs, etc.
I need autoposting capabilities because I’ve got 3,600 other things to do.Update: in 2021, Facebook opened up API access to Instagram, making most apps have the ability to auto-post. At this point, any app that claims to be an Instagram scheduler that can’t auto-post isn’t worth the time.
Instagram Scheduling App Showdown!
Pros – easy to use, can schedule multiple formats of posts (will auto-post pictures to the feed, but for carousel and IG Stories, they’ll send a push notification reminder), can handle multiple accounts under one login, allows the first comment.
Cons – Stats are not the best, hashtag research not helpful at all (especially once I saw the data Plann offers). Also, I’ve had, let’s say, spotty experiences with their customer service.
2022 Update: My side-by-side deep dives of Planoly vs. Plann vs. Later. Check it out!
Pros – The first and most well-known. Easy-to-use interface. Also, their weekly newsletters are excellent and are chocked full of info about how to grow your Instagram account, new releases with the Facebook API, and other fun little social media marketing goodies.
Cons – Doesn’t support IG Stories, can’t use the same login for multiple accounts, doesn’t support the first comment
Pros – handles multiple accounts, allows the first comment
Cons – I’m not entirely sure Grum is being supported any longer. I got it years ago as a deal on Appsumo and it hasn’t changed since. No support that I can tell for video, carousel, or IG Stories. I’m only really adding it here because hey, I used it. Might as well tell you about my experience!
Pros – Beautiful app, easy-to-use interface, best stats
and hashtag research I’ve found. They’ve also got excellent pre-defined templates for a variety of niches so if you aren’t sure what to post, their templates can give you a great head start.
NOTE: In 2021, Plann removed their hashtag research due to new rules set by Facebook/Meta. After the 2020 election, apparently, things got a little too out of control (I have no idea how that relates to hashtags exactly) and Facebook/Meta took their ball and went home. It’s really a shame because Plann’s hashtag research was a game-changer.
Not an official Instagram partner so can’t post automatically for any sort of post (just sends push notifications) Note: This has been updated since I originally created this post. Now all apps have the ability to post directly to Instagram. I did a deeper dive in this video that talks about what I feel is the best Instagram scheduling app in 2022 and beyond:
And the rest…
Are those the only options for Instagram scheduling apps? Far from it, especially now that Facebook/Meta has opened up its API for any app to use. As for Tailwind, Buffer, Hootsuite, or any other multi-platform schedulers, I’ve rarely been impressed with their abilities. Instagram is an afterthought add-on for them so I’ve never felt like I was getting “full” capabilities as compared to the apps mentioned above. They can probably work, but if you plan to get the majority of your traffic from Instagram, I’d recommend investing in tools specifically designed for the platform.
2022 update: I want to give a shout-out to PromoRepublic as a worthy social media scheduling app competitor that I previously overlooked. We’ve been using them to source cool facts for the content we put out (because no one wants to see 4,000 salesy posts). Full disclosure: They are an affiliate of mine, but that’s only because I like them SO much.
Which was the best Instagram scheduling app for me?
Planoly. Where it lacks in stats and hashtag research, it makes up for in the ability to make scheduling stories, carousels, and feed posts so easy as compared to the others. I will pop into Plann once in a while for data research
and may move over to them once they’re able to be an official Instagram partner (just striking this out now that every app can auto-post and doesn’t need to be an Official Partner), but for now, I feel that Planoly is the best Instagram scheduling app for me since it gives me the ability to maintain both of my businesses easily.
Plann is a serious runner-up though. Their ability to have custom(ish) content calendars, their user interface, and really, the people I’ve talked to at the company are all refreshingly nice and easy to use (well, I mean, except the people…yikes, this is getting weird). I would absolutely give Plann a look at once my subscription with Planoly is done.
Grum most likely doesn’t exist anymore. Later is just really lacking in way too many things for it to be a worthwhile competitor, in my opinion at least. And PromoRepublic is a really cool app that has a lot of capabilities, but again, if Instagram is a serious business for, well, your business, then I recommend using software that’s built first for Instagram instead of it being a mishmash of platforms, know what I mean?
Okay, now tell me how you use it
Glad you asked! I’ve got a whole series that goes into how you can increase your reach and grow your Instagram account in this blog post. You can also check out my video walkthrough where you get to see behind the scenes of how I use Planoly every week.
A few tips for making an Instagram scheduler work for you:
- Use it to post consistently – The algorithm is lazy and heavily favors accounts that post regularly. If you make it easy for the algorithm to rely on you, you can expect your account to show up in the feeds more often. Try to use a scheduler to set up at least one week’s worth of posts in advance.
- Test different formats of posts before going all-in – I’ve had coaching clients that went full on with Reels and neglected their feed posts, or went hardcore on IGTV only to realize no one really watched those (or at least, watched them enough). Instagram always has a new darling feature they favor so you need to balance your content types accordingly. It’s okay to dabble here and there on different styles, but don’t neglect the main way you originally drove traffic to your account or website until the data tells you to.
- Do not use it as your only touchpoint for Instagram – While posting consistently is a big driver for algorithm favoritism, it doesn’t absolve you from doing the rest of the work. You’re still going to need to spend time engaging with your audience to ensure you’re getting your posts to show up. If you’re not great at this, set a reminder in your phone for 1 hour every few days or so just engaging with content. Do it on the way to your office or when you’re waiting for dinner. Every little bit helps.
- Join your preferred scheduler’s newsletter – Both Plann and Planoly have excellent newsletters that include free content calendars, Instagram updates, and really helpful social media tips. I am NOT someone that willingly subscribes to much, but I am an active subscriber for both of theirs and actually do end up reading their weekly updates to learn more about both their apps and the social media platforms they cover.