Instagram Post Scheduling made easy

How To Schedule Instagram Posts [and Stories]: Step by Step Guide

September 18, 2018
Sylvia Ogweng

Are you looking to save 100 hours per year by optimizing your Instagram workflow? If that’s a “yes” (how could it not be?), you’ve come to the right place! Learning how to schedule Instagram posts is the easiest way to save time

Are you looking to save 100 hours per year by optimizing your Instagram workflow? If that’s a “yes” (how could it not be?), you’ve come to the right place!Learning how to schedule Instagram posts is the easiest way to save time and regain your sanity.In this guide, we walk you through why scheduling is a social media manager’s best friend, the best practices you must keep in mind, and most importantly how to ace your social media marketing with scheduled posts.

Why Schedule Instagram Posts?

So first things first, why bother? Do you really need to schedule your content on Instagram? Hell yeah! Here are six reasons why.

Save Time

Feeding the beast that is Instagram can become a full-time gig. That’s why using a scheduling tool to plan, organize and post content on your Instagram account can be a huge timesaver.Instead of creating your Insta content one at a time, get into the habit of batching your content creation. Planning and creating a bunch of posts in one sitting will actually save you much more time.Plus, with Sked Social, you can bulk upload your media and start scheduling content for your Instagram business account in minutes. Add posts, stories, carousels, videos—all in one easy interface. Ain’t nobody got time for uploading one-by-one.

Make the Most of Instagram Features

Every time you post on Instagram, you should be trying to make the most of the many features available to you on the Instagram app. This means, adding hashtags to your posts but also tagging location, products, etc. You need tags to get the best engagement for every post.

Of course, when you’re posting ad hoc, it can be easy to forget a thing or two. However, a robust Instagram scheduler like Sked would never let that happen. Every time you schedule a post to the platform, you can

  • Improve conversions from Instagram followers by using shoppable tags that lead directly to your store without having to manually go in and add tags later.
  • Add a location tag to your posts to improve the organic discovery and reach of your posts.
  • Tag other Instagrammers in your posts to provide attribution and share who is in your posts.
  • Find and use the right combination of hashtags that get your content noticed by more of your audience.

Post from your Desktop

Let’s be honest—working from our desktops is infinitely easier and more comfortable than poring over our mobile devices. But when one’s job is the ‘gram, can you really stray too far from your phone? Well actually, yes.

Scheduling Instagram posts with the help of third-party apps like Sked allows you to do more of the heavy lifting on your desktop. You can manage your workflow more easily, visually plan your feed, bulk upload your content as well optimize your posts for your social accounts.

Keep Your Feed Consistent

It only takes one post to stray from your desired Insta aesthetic. With a social media management tool—especially one with visual planning tools like Sked—it has never been easier to craft and maintain the perfect Instagram feed.

When you schedule your social media posts in advance, you can make use of Sked’s Visual Planner to get a glimpse of the bigger picture and what your Insta feed is going to look like. Posting too many quotes in a row? Are your videos taking over the grid? Need to find a slot for the upcoming marketing promo? No worries. You can drag, drop and rearrange your posts until you get your grid looking just right.

Don’t forget. Instagram is all about visuals. A consistent, well-curated grid layout still makes a good impression and can be key for growing your Instagram followers.

Break Free from Your Phone

If you’re a seasoned social media manager, you’ll know that Instagram management is a 24/7 responsibility. Why not regain your freedom (and your Sunday morning) by scheduling your social media posts in advance.

Start scheduling your posts when your users are most likely to engage with your content and not when you can spare a moment to publish. Make the most of Sked’s power-packed platform to plan, manage and schedule your content. Your content will be posted automagically at the scheduled time—and you don’t have to be anywhere near your phone for it. Win-win!

Schedule Posts as a Team

Want to save even more time? Get the entire team in on the Instagram marketing action. Create content, assign tasks, get approvals and collaborate like a boss to schedule your Instagram content.

Use Sked’s post approvals feature to easily build post-approval workflows for your business. You can easily plan out your social media content, and then get approvals from clients or other external partners right within Sked.

Social Media Best Practices to Schedule Instagram Posts

Alright, you get it. Schedule the grams. But before you get started, here are some tips to help you optimize the process and get the most out of every scheduled post on Instagram.

Be Organized

This may be obvious, but it’s an important best practice. You can’t schedule anything if you don’t have anything to post.

The key to becoming the boss of scheduled posts is to be organized about everything else that comes before. This means you need to:

  • Plan your content.
  • Coordinate all stakeholders to create posts and other content.
  • Write the captions.
  • Plan hashtags.
  • Decide the best time to post.
  • Collect all ready-to-post content in one centralized place such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Alternatively, Sked lets you upload content directly from Canva or from Instagram URLs too.

Batching content creation is a social media manager’s superpower. Being organized about this will help make the entire process of uploading and scheduling Instagram content so much smoother.

Once your content is ready, upload to an Instagram scheduler tool like Sked using the bulk upload features. Optimize your posts with captions, Instagram hashtags, and other tags as necessary. Choose your scheduled time and send your content away into the world.

Finding the right scheduling process may involve a bit of trial and error. Sked will definitely make the process easier but keep working at it until you find your own organization rhythm.

Visually Plan Your Grid

As we mentioned above, a well-curated, aesthetically consistent Instagram business profile is still an important factor for engagement on the platform. Scheduling your posts in advance allows you to ensure your grid is always primed for making a killer first impression.

Sked’s Visual Planner functionality makes it easy for social media managers to drag, drop and rearrange content within the scheduler to make sure your grid looks exactly the way you want it to.

Of course, planning your grid is not just about making everything pretty. Getting a good look at the big picture of what’s coming up on your Instagram feed can also be very helpful for your overall marketing strategy and when planning your social media marketing promotions, competitions, giveaways, and the like.By the way, if you’re not sure where to start or how to create an engaging visual aesthetic for your Instagram account, check out our article on how to create a killer aesthetic for your brand.

Post at the Right Time

Scheduling your social media posts in advance allows you to make sure your Instagram content is appearing in your followers’ feeds when they’re most likely to see it.

As you probably already know, timing is important when it comes to social media marketing. To maximize your Instagram reach and opportunities for engagement, you need to make sure you’re sharing your content at the best possible time to post on Instagram.

Of course, your best time may be different from ours. Sked helps you figure out the best times to post on Instagram so your audience is most likely to see and engage with your content.

Plus, once your post is in the system, this amazing social media management tool (yes, we’re a little biased) will even share it on your channel at the scheduled time without you having to get involved.

You don’t have to be tethered to your phone. You no longer have to wait to post your Instagram content only when you have a spare moment. Or worse, wake up at two am to post something to make sure your Insta followers on the other side of the world see it in their timezone. Simply upload, schedule, and automatically post at the best time.

Analyze, Adjust, Repeat

Finally, as you definitely already know—learn from your successes (and failures). Every time you experiment on your social networks, whether it be with scheduling or trying out new types of content, you need to analyze the data to see what’s working (and what’s not).Sked’s built-in analytics functionality delivers the metrics you need to see how your scheduled posts and stories are performing in the real world. Do more of what’s working. If a particular post didn’t do so well for your Instagram business profile, try something different. Run some A/B tests too if you like. The key is to keep experimenting and trying new things to keep your Instagram marketing fresh and engaging.

How to Schedule Instagram Posts in 7 Steps

Ready to start scheduling your Instagram content? Us too. In our obviously biased opinion, Sked Social is the best scheduling tool to help you schedule Instagram posts, stories, and more. We’ll talk you through the process below so you can see why.

1. Choose the Right Instagram Account and Upload Your Content

Select the red Create Post option in the top left corner of your dashboard.

Create post button in Sked Social

Select the account(s) to which you want to post your images from the dropdown. Sked allows you to schedule multiple or single images or videos to as many or as few accounts as you would like.

Click the blue plus (+) sign to add your media. You can select media from your Sked Library, drag and drop files straight in, or upload files from Dropbox, Google Drive, or Canva. After selecting your media, click Use Media in the top right corner.

Upload files in Sked Social

Before uploading your videos, Sked recommends keeping them small in size. Your videos get resized to a maximum width of 1080 pixels wide upon loading.Feed videos must be no longer than 60 seconds long (and no shorter than 3 seconds). More about Instagram video marketing here

2. Edit Your Image

With Sked’s built-in photo editor, you can make sure your visuals are always perfect. Hover over the image in the Media section and you’ll see a pencil and a trash can. Click the pencil to bring up the photo editor.

From here you can change the size of the image, apply filters and color adjustments, add text, stickers, frames, and overlays.

Image editing in Sked Social

Once your image is ready to go, be sure to click the blue Save button in the top right corner.

3. Add Your Caption, Hashtags, and URL

Now it’s time to craft the perfect post caption. With a maximum character limit of 2200, there’s plenty of room to impress users with clever words to accompany your eye-catching post.

Ideally, you’ve listened to our “be organized” advice and have your Instagram captions written ready to go in a separate document or spreadsheet. All you need to do is copy and paste it into the Caption box in Sked.

Feel free to insert emojis and essential hashtags in this section too. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post. The jury is out on whether you should place your hashtags within the post caption or in the first comment. But if you’d like to add the first comment, you can also do that in this section.

You can easily see how many hashtags you’ve used in your caption and first-comment with our hashtag counter. If you use the same hashtag groups often, why not take advantage of our handy templates? Save yourself even more minutes by grouping hashtags and mentions, and saving them for one-click access during the scheduling process.

Additionally, if you’d like to drive your audience to a particular link via this post, you can also do that in this section. Make sure your Sked Link link in bio is turned on so you have the option to add a destination URL. When you add a URL here, the link in your bio can include a clickable gallery of your Instagram Feed.

4. Tag Users, Locations and Products

Before you get started tagging users, locations, and products while you schedule Instagram posts, you need to enable a few features.

To tag your products, you must make sure your account is a Business account and enable the feature in your “Profile Settings” on the Instagram app.

Scroll down to the tagging section of your Create Post page.To tag the location, start typing the location and select from the choices or add your already existing ones from the dropdown.

Location tagging in Sked Social

When tagging users, try to click away from the edges so the name doesn’t get cut off. Type out the username without the @ and select the desired account. You’ll see successfully tagged users under the section on the right.

User tagging in Sked Social

Make sure to click the blue Save button at the bottom right corner.

If you have an Instagram shop you can also tag your products in this section.

You can also add your alt-text while you’re creating your posts. Just click on alt-text, add the description and click the blue Save button.

Adding alt text to Instagram pictures in Sked Social

5. Schedule Instagram Posts: Queue and Drafts

Now that you’ve perfected your post, it’s time to set it off into the (Instagram) world!At this point, Sked offers you three options. You can either send the post to your Drafts for safekeeping; schedule it for now or later; or thirdly, add the post to your predetermined queued posting times.

To save your post for scheduling at a later date, simply select “Draft” from the dropdown and click Save.

To schedule your post to go out now or at a later date, click “Schedule for” and proceed by selecting your desired time and date (be sure that your account is set to your desired timezone). If you prefer to send the post out immediately, click “Post Now”.

In order to add your posts to your Queue, you must first establish your preferred posting times by editing your settings under the “Queue Settings” dashboard. And don’t forget to enable the feature by checking the box.

Queuing scheduled Instagram posts Sked Social

Once you’re done editing your post(s), send it off by clicking the Save button in the bottom right corner.

6. Visually Plan and Schedule Instagram Posts

To ensure your feed looks as best as possible, why not go the extra mile by ensuring your feed looks great all as one. Whether you’re looking to quickly move the order of your posts, group certain images together or re-order the layout of your feed, this is the easiest way to make edits to your posting schedule.

The easiest way to do this is with Sked’s Visual Planner. Access this feature by clicking the phone icon in the left-hand menu.

Here you’ll find a preview of your feed. For optimal freedom when editing your layout, it is highly recommended that you utilize Sked’s queue feature to schedule your posts. Sked makes it easy to preview and edit your content and allows you to move Queued (Q) or Scheduled (S) to your liking.Pro tip: Always remember to submit your changes before moving on to another task!

Visual planner for Instagram Sked Social

7. Wait for Your Scheduled Posts to Go Live on your Instagram Account

There’s nothing else for you to do now but wait for your Instagram posts to go live on your account. If you’d like to make any changes, you can edit them in your Upcoming queue.Scheduling Instagram posts does not mean you simply set and forget. While Sked takes away the headache of having to manually post your content, it’s still important that you check in on your Instagram account to make sure your posts appear as you would like them to, engage with comments, etc. More on this after we share how you can schedule other kinds of Instagram content.

How to Schedule Instagram Stories and Reels

Of course, Instagram isn’t just about posts on the feed. For best results and maximum optimization, you should be scheduling your Stories and Reels content as well. Sked makes this simple. Let’s take a look.

Using the Scheduler to Publish Stories

The process to publish and schedule Stories on Sked isn’t too different to scheduling posts.

Once you’ve chosen the right account and uploaded your media, toggle the Switch to story/Reel post button to the right so it turns blue.

Choose Story from the dropdown. If your Story has an URL, you can also add that in here. Once you add in your link, it will appear as a clickable link below so you can make sure to check that it works.

Sked also gives you the option to share this Story manually instead of automatically posting it on your behalf. If you’d like to do that, make sure to check the Publish story manually box.

This is handy if you want to make use of Story features such as Stickers, emojis, GIFs, location tagging, hashtags etc, as these aren’t available on automatically published Stories. You can add in notes to yourself about this in the manual publishing box.

Finally, once your content is ready, follow the same process as outlined above in the Posts section to save your post as a draft, add it to Queue, or schedule it for a specific date.

Using the Scheduler to Publish Reels

You can use the Sked Social scheduling tool to plan and organize your Instagram Reels content as well. However, unlike when you schedule Instagram posts and Stories, you will need to manually publish this content.

Follow the same steps as the Stories process above. Select ‘Reels’ from the Type dropdown.

You will notice the publish manually checkbox is pre-selected as you don’t have an option to automatically publish this content.

Add in your Reels caption, hashtag, emojis, and other notes into the Notes for manual publishing box. When it’s time to post your Reel, you can copy and paste this content into the description box.

As before, you can choose to save your content in Drafts for later use if you like. Otherwise, you can choose to add your content to the queue or schedule a time you’d like to post on Instagram. You will receive a push notification via the Sked mobile app to remind you to post on Instagram at your chosen time. Learn more about the manual publishing process here.

Bulk Upload and Schedule Instagram Posts

One of the main reasons most social media managers choose to schedule their Instagram content is to streamline their workflows and save time by doing so

.Sked simplifies this further by offering bulk upload functionality that allows you to upload and schedule multiple pieces of content in one go. Batching, FTW!

To get started, click on Bulk Create posts on the left-hand menu.

Select your account, the type of content you’d like to upload, choose where you’d like to upload your content from and you’re good to go.

Scheduling Instagram Posts Isn’t Set and Forget

So you’ve saved yourself some time by learning how to schedule Instagram posts, but don’t assume that you can ‘set it, and forget it.

’Return to your feed regularly. Answer pressing questions. And interact with your followers, or simply interact with your biggest fans — or haters, who knows!?Watch out for controversy while you were away (likely enjoying all of your newfound time), and check in often. It’s important to see how your community enjoying your content.

Also, remember to shake things up every now and then. Predictability is the ultimate brand killer! Keep your feed fresh and timely, while also focusing on consistency and scheduling.Now that you’ve nailed how to schedule Instagram posts it’s time to analyze them.

We’ve gone through the basics of the optimal post, but it’s important to remember that every audience is different, and optimizing for your niche is what will set you apart.

Next, determine your best posting times and your most engaging content. And don’t forget to experiment with your hashtag strategy. You can determine these and many more insights via Sked’s Insights dashboard. Find this handy feature in the left-hand menu.

The Only Tool You Need to Schedule Instagram Posts

If by now we haven’t driven the point home, we’ll say it one more time—you need to start scheduling your Instagram content! It’ll save you time, give you back your weekends and help you feel much saner.

Sked Social really is the only scheduling tool you need to help you with this. As we’ve outlined above, Sked can streamline the entire process from start to finish, automating much of your content posting and simplifying what can’t be automated.

Paired with the ability to achieve consistency via scheduling, you’ll be garnering the maximum reach and engagement in no time. All thanks to Sked’s unique features that aren’t available with other third-party apps & scheduling tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Later, Tailwind, or HopperHq.

Learn which of the two biggest tools and our own Sked Social would work best for you: Buffer vs Hootsuite vs Sked Social comparison!

Our all-in-one Instagram scheduler allows you to automatically post images, carousels, Stories, videos, and more to your Instagram profile. Tag locations, users, and products and manage all your hashtags in one place to save five+ hours every week. With pricing starting from $30/ month, there’s a plan for every type of business so get in touch with us today to see how Sked can help you schedule Instagram posts and do so much more with your Instagram marketing. Plus, did we mention you get a 7-day free trial?

Spend less and get more with Sked Social

Get everything social schedulers are missing without writing a blank check for an enterprise platform. AI-integrated tools, custom collaboration and approval workflows, deep analytics and insights, and real auto-posting to more platforms — it’s all here.

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