Earlier this week, HootSuite announced that we could now pre-schedule our Instagram posts with their tool. As a long-time HootSuite customer (and an Instagram power user), I was elated! I’ll admit there is a small part of me that dreads this a little bit too. Now that posting to Instagram is a little bit “easier,” will we be inundated with more crap content from businesses that like to “set it and forget it?” It remains to be seen, but that’s a separate blog post! On to my review.
I’ve been testing the HootSuite Instagram scheduler with my own Instagram posts, as well as those of my clients this week.
I think we all dream of a situation where we can upload our images and captions in to HootSuite on our desktop… and then we don’t have to think about it again. We can pop on to Instagram throughout the day to interact with people and engage with fans… but the physical posting is totally automated, just like we can do with Facebook and Twitter. This isn’t quite the case with HootSuite, but it’s definitely a step closer!
In order for it to work, you must have the HootSuite app (it’s free) on your phone. You start on your desktop by uploading your images and captions in to HootSuite, and selecting the date and time for it to be posted. When it is time for the scheduled post to actually go live on your feed, the HootSuite app pushes a notification to your phone. You must open the HootSuite app and “confirm” the post. Confirming the post requires that you are logged in to the correct Instagram account on your Instagram app. Once you confirm, it opens the post image and caption in the Instagram app, and you finish posting like you normally would if you just uploaded it to Instagram like you’ve been doing forever and ever, amen.
At first I was a little disappointed because I still have to log in and out of accounts to post to each specific account. While logging in and out takes just a fraction of a moment, it’s still annoying. I also have to be available and connected to the internet at the time I want the post to go live, because posts have to be confirmed. That said, if you are NOT able to confirm the post at the precise time you had scheduled, it just sits in the HootSuite app until you can confirm it, so nothing is lost.
However, on the positive side, I don’t have to email myself my photos and captions and save it all on my phone each week. When it’s time to post, I don’t have to copy and paste several things and take 3-5 minutes to get the post up… HootSuite stores it all for me, and even keeps any formatting in tact! This week I had some posts with special formatting. When I put the content in HootSuite, it looked like the formatting was lost… but lo and behold! When I went to confirm those posts, the formatting showed up again when I opened the post in Instagram… win!
All in all, I believe HootSuite will save me precious time each week… and keep my phone photo albums a lot cleaner!
There are a few other limitations to consider. They aren’t HUGE deals, but just things to be aware of.
- If you usually put your hashtags in your first comment (right after your post copy), HootSuite isn’t going to do this for you. You’ll still need to copy/paste them in, OR put them at the end of your caption… but I think that looks tacky. One thing that I will probably try is to upload them at the end of my caption, but then cut them out as I am confirming the post. Once I actually hit “Post,” I can copy the hashtags in to the first comment. Just something to think about.
- The location feature hasn’t worked for me yet. If you usually use the location area to put a custom CTA (call to action), you’ll also need to type this in as you are confirming. Again, not a deal breaker, but something to be aware of.
- Instagram photos are always square (duh), but HootSuite allows you to upload a rectangular image. It will automatically crop it for you when it posts, and you don’t have control over the crop. If you are particular about where you want a photo cropped, I would crop it in to a square before you upload it.
- If you frequently change your bio link, again, HootSuite isn’t going to handle this.
- Emoji are challenging. If you heavily rely on emoji, I don’t have a hack for you… yet.
- I haven’t tried to upload a 15 second video… if you have the answer to whether or not that works, please comment below!
Has anyone else used the Instagram pre-scheduler yet? What did you think? Is it saving you time? I would love to hear from you.
Molly Marshall teaches small business owners and online entrepreneurs how to systematically and simply grow a profitable online presence through social media. Get your FREE Instagram Strategy Guide now!