Until this month, it was a pain to transfer images from your computer into your Instagram feed, and it was pretty much impossible to schedule Instagram posts in advance. But now, Hootsuite has introduced Instagram support to its workflow and social scheduling app with a short workaround that provides and easier way to create and schedule content.
The process is still not 100% automated, but it's a much more streamlined way of getting images from your desktop into Instagram, as well as for simply scheduling posts and viewing and/or liking them. Here's how it works:
1. Create a Hootsuite account.
You'll have to choose between a free or paid pro account. The free version provides all the functionality you need to post, but there are some limitations. For example, the free version allows you to link up only three accounts. So if you connect Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, you're done. With the paid membership, you can sync up to 50 accounts. The monthly fee for a pro account is $9, with the option of a 30-day free trial. Hootsuite also offers an enterprise plan for larger businesses. Check out all the options here.
2. Add Instagram as a social network.
From your dropdown at the top left of your screen, “add another network” should appear below any accounts you've already added, such as Facebook and Twitter. Click to add Instagram. You will likely have to enter your username and password.
3. Schedule your post!
Like I mentioned, posting to Instagram is still not 100% automated. Here's how it works: when you upload a photo you'd like to post, choose the social networks you'd like to use from the dropdown menu at the top left of your screen. Write a message, then upload your photo. Click on the calendar icon to choose the date and time you'd like to post. When that time comes, Hootsuite will automatically post to the other accounts you've chosen. But for Instagram, it will send you an alert including the image and a note saying that the caption of the post has been copied. It will prompt you to open your photo in Instagram, which you can do with one click. Then, simply use your phone's paste function to create the caption and proceed to post as you normally would.
Note: You will post to whatever Instagram account your phone is logged into, so be aware of that if you operate more than one account!
4. Monitor Your Instagram Feed.
Besides helping you post to Instagram, Hootsuite also makes it easy to view and engage with the accounts you follow. If you scroll all the way to the right on your page of feeds, you should see an “Add a Stream” column. From the drop down, click on your Instagram account, and that column should populate with images from the folks you follow. You can also search hashtags and like photos directly from Hootsuite.
5. If You Need More Help…
I have to admit, upon hearing that Instagram would be integrated into Hootsuite, I logged on to the application for the first time in years. Besides being excited about using it for Instagram, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the new features and options. So I signed up for Hootsuite University. It's free for a 2-day trial, then $21 per month after that. They also offer free social media training, and even a certification. Stay tuned for a review of those!