We Can Now Schedule Posts to Instagram, but Why the Celebration?

Yesterday, Instagram announced that they had made some changes in what they will now allow to performed automatically. With this update, Instagram business profiles have gained the ability to have posts scheduled and published without any additional manual work via third-party applications. Non-Business profiles will likely gain this feature in 2019 according to the announcement. This news has been very favorably received so far, but instead shouldn’t we be running for the hills? Hear me out.

I believe the disconnect here is that most people are only narrowly envisioning themselves using this tool for their own work. From this closed perspective, sure, this all sounds like it’s easing a burden and that’s that. I’ve been using social media scheduler Hootsuite for a few years now managing the Fstoppers Instagram account. At a rate of posting about four images every day, it’s great to be able to schedule out the next few days, sometimes a week if I’m traveling, in advance with this service. Before this new update, once the scheduled time rolled around, my phone would get a notification and the Instagram post would auto-fill with my previously entered image file and caption, but I’d still have to manually look at and publish these posts myself inside the Instagram app. The difference now is that I can schedule posts from my computer and never check in with the Instagram app ever; there’s nothing manual to do at the scheduled publish time on my end at all anymore.

Now take a step back. Think of your Instagram experience five or so years ago; the origin of why you became attached to the social media network in the first place. No ads, a chronological feed, no “pods,” nothing too serious. Just photos from the people you cared about, and posts from you when you thought you had something interesting to share. So many people today claim they want to go back to when Instagram was much more basic and much more awesome. Strangely, it’s these same people I’m seeing applaud a set-it-and-forget-it scheduling system. Isn’t this straying the furthest we’ve ever been now from the core Instagram social experience that so many of us cry out for?

Are we becoming hypocritical without realizing it? Sure, yeah, I know, it’s the other Instagram users that are bad and going to abuse the new system, but not me because what I schedule is always top-notch content. My stuff matters!

But eventually, who’s even going to be looking at the stuff that’s being posted? What’s the point when you can keep churning out your dank content and ignore the pesky burdens of passing through a photo feed. You’re after Internet fame now, Instagram no longer serves any other purpose but to be noticed for what you yourself post. The social structure of Instagram — the give and the take — is coming onto its last legs, and automatic publishing will not be doing it any favors.

We are possibly about to be barraged by endless posts from businesses and people because of its ease of use. I believe that small burden before of manually publishing in-app was just enough to keep a lot of the self-serving spam at bay. And if this feature makes its way from third-party apps only to inside Instagram, oh boy.

One other concern I have is with quality control. This was actually my first thought I had when I heard the news, but I didn’t think I’d run into trouble so quick with it. Yesterday I enrolled the Fstoppers Instagram account into self-publishing via Hootsuite to try it out. For the first couple scheduled posts, it was actually a little scary. Posts being published to your account without a final “sign off” is stressful. People begin commenting and liking something that you haven’t even seen yourself in its native context yet. Today, I opened up Instagram to find that a post got put up with an incorrect color profile and therefore the colors were dull compared to the actual image. This would have 100 percent been caught if I were still manually pushing images to publish, but since this was all automated, it wasn’t. This is just one example, but I’m sure in the time coming more embarrassing errors that would have normally been caught are going to get sent through by accounts using this new feature.

What are your thoughts about the new scheduling and automatic publishing changes? Do you see it as liberating for your business or a disaster in the making? Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle and it’s just a sign of the times for you. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Tien Nguyen's picture

wait so is hootsuite compressing or changing the images in anyway before they post for you?

Ryan Mense's picture

I think it's almost the opposite of that. Hootsuite is straight publishing whatever it has, which if we are talking about the color profile case, that photo was uploaded to an Fstoppers portfolio in Adobe RGB. I'm not for sure on this, but I think doing the traditional loading into the Instagram app, it would convert there for you so you wouldn't have off colors. Either way, it's something I would have spotted as being off if I had manually posted it and could have fixed it up before publishing.

Jonathan Brady's picture

If this is the beginning of the end of Instagram, it can't come fast enough! Let's cut the brake lines and slam the gas!

Pete Whittaker's picture

I think you're right to be worried Ryan. Most of the photographers and small businesses I know are already using Instagram only to post and promote their own stuff, they don't interact at all with posts they aren't tagged on. Then they grumble about how their following isn't growing and how no one interacts with their posts.

The other issue with scheduled posts is since Instagram analytics tells you the "best time" to post, we're going to see less and less content posted outside of those windows.

Adam Ottke's picture

What sucks about this is that we don't really have the power to schedule posts...only third-party integrated providers (i.e. hootsuite and others) do, which leaves any smaller businesses that aren't able to pay those monthly fees out of luck. It's kind of like a super nice handout to those companies to allow them to offer something that IG could TOTALLY offer its own users, but still hasn't and apparently won't. Why do we need to pay for that when IG could and should make it a feature.

All the other concerns are valid. But scheduling posts would be super nice... At least for a few weeks ahead...

Ryan Mense's picture

I’m not paying Hootsuite a monthly fee. The free Hootsuite tier that I’ve always used allows this.

Adam Ottke's picture

Tells you how much I know about all this. I didn't think there was a free hootsuite tier that was useful at all. Good to know!

robertc's picture

The cheapest plan for Hootsuite is $19 a month. There is no option for a free tier.

robertc's picture

HA, they keep that page hidden well lol. Thanks Ryan!

Andy Day's picture

Yeah, I struggled to find that as well, even though I was already signed up to their free tier. 😂

Scott S's picture

Planoly is free

thomas Palmer's picture

I think Instagram didn't need this feature to be a sick platform : Everything is gamed by small and big businnes that post on a regular basis, then facebook puts a touch of algorithm on it, then people adapt.
As soon as a platform is used by businesses it's beggining to rot slowly, I just can't think of a solution for that, but when I see everyone wanting to be a "content creator", I don't know if it is a viable model if everybody is one. Would be better if at least the algorithm ddidn't favor the ones who post every day.

Paul Scharff's picture

I'm just a focus group of one, but I was spending 30 hours a week on social media to ensure I had a "presence," which virtually never translated into clients. Then I stopped it all and spent 20 hours a week getting business the old-fashioned way -- reaching out to real people in real time. My business grew and I still have 10 more free hours each week.

I'm glad Instagram works for some people, but it and other social media just never were that fruitful to me.

Andy Day's picture

I think my biggest frustration is that Insta partnered with Hootsuite rather than, say Later. Hootsuite's UI is such a confusing and eyeball-jarring experience. I'd like to use it but its interface is just too upsetting. Will Insta's API be rolled out to other scheduling apps or is this going to be exclusive to Hootsuite?

Scott S's picture

Try Planoly

Adam Ottke's picture

They said it should work with multiple third-party integrations. Sounds like it's up to each company to implement whatever API they need to implement.

Tom D's picture

Contrary to so many profiles, the "followers" are NOT "real."

It's such a weird platform filled with nonsense. Every change they make leads to questions about the authenticity of the entire thing.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

lol, automated posts for automated comments and likes... Someone should hand FaceBook a big cookie for doing an awesome job on creating social medias :D