Should You Use Direct Scheduling on Instagram?
While Instagram doesn’t have a built-in scheduling feature, they did recently grant developers the ability to set up direct publishing from 3rd party tools to Instagram. Businesses and marketers rejoice! But since Instagram is still a mobile-first platform, there may be situations in which this new functionality is actually *not* to your advantage. Read on to find out if direct scheduling is right for you!
If you’re just getting in to Instagram, you’ll also want to check out these Do’s and Dont’s about using Instagram for your business marketing.
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What is Direct Scheduling?
Direct scheduling is when a post is sent to Instagram without any manual steps involved - basically the way that scheduling works for all other platforms :)
Let’s start out by quickly going over the 3 ways that you can currently publish to your Instagram feed.
Manually through the Instagram app on your mobile device
Semi-manually (aka notifications) by using a 3rd party scheduling tool (either on your mobile device or desktop...but probably on your desktop!) to set up the post (photo/video and caption including hashtags) and specify a time for it to be posted. A notification is sent to your mobile device at the specified time and you open the post in the 3rd party app which then copies the photo & caption so you can open the Instagram app and post.
Automatically by using a 3rd party scheduling tool (either on your mobile device or desktop...but again, probably on your desktop!) to set up the post (photo/video and caption including hashtags) and specify a time for it to be posted. It will automatically post at the specified time.
For the purposes of this article we will be comparing #2 and #3, because when it comes to manually posting on Instagram:
Who Has Access?
Before you even consider whether or not you *should* use direct scheduling you need to figure out if you *can* use it, because it’s not available to everyone at the moment. There are 2 things you need:
An Instagram business profile*
A 3rd party scheduling tool with direct scheduling capability**
Most of the big name scheduling tools have this functionality, but if you need direct scheduling and you’re signing up for a new service, double-check with their sales & support if it’s not clear what you’re getting. Also make sure to check if your plan includes video posting, since it’s common for that to be a paid feature, or only available at higher level plans.
*Word is that this functionality will eventually be rolled out to personal profiles, so if you’re dead set against having a business profile you’ll just have to be patient until this feature is rolled out to everyone. If you want to switch to a business profile you can find the instructions here.
**Some scheduling tools will let you select whether you want notifications or direct scheduling on a post-by-post basis. Others seem to have an all-or-nothing setting, or have switched 100% to direct scheduling - make sure you know which before you spend any money! If you want to be able to choose, I’d highly recommend Later*.
You Might Not Want to Use Direct Scheduling If…
You want to tweak your posts before they go live - this is common for people who use a VA or social media manager and want a final look at Instagram posts *or* you have specific formatting/tagging in your captions that doesn’t carry over during direct scheduling.
Your brand look is dependent on Instagram filters/edits - some 3rd party tools have graphic editing features built in, but they might not match what you can do with Instagram’s editing tools.
You post mostly Stories - direct scheduling is currently only available for posts to the feed.
You often post multiple photos as a carousel - direct scheduling is currently only available for single images.
You post mostly videos - direct scheduling is currently only available for images.
You Will Want to Use Direct Scheduling If…
You often miss notifications on your phone - you have so many dings and blips that those Instagram notifications keep getting lost in the shuffle and you’re forgetting to post or posting when it’s no longer relevant.
Your best times to post are the most inconvenient for you to post - you may have noticed that your early morning posts get the most engagement, but that’s when you’re right in the middle of your morning routine, or late in the afternoon when you’re trying to pick the kids up from school.
You edit photos or create graphics and video on your computer - your content is already living on your computer, and it’s already been perfected, so instead of sending it to your phone and *then* posting, just set it to post automatically.
Your focus is on the feed, and not on Stories - direct scheduling doesn’t currently work with Stories.
Your focus is on single image posts, and not multiple images or videos - direct scheduling doesn’t currently work with multiple images or videos.