Instagram is one of the most popular social networks right now – over 1 billion users are active each month.
It’s no longer simply a social network for scrolling through cat memes or pictures of food.
It’s a serious social network that influencers and businesses are using to drive revenue.
In this post, you’ll discover a bunch of helpful tools to take your Instagram presence to the next level.
This includes tools to help you with scheduling, analytics, reporting, hashtag research, organic follower growth, and more.
Let’s get started:
Instagram scheduling tools
Want to schedule your content directly to Instagram without having to use a separate app? It’s possible with all of these tools.
Sendible is a popular social media management tool that gives you the ability to schedule images and videos directly to Instagram (and other social networks.)
You can choose to schedule your posts for specific times or add them to queues to be published at predetermined intervals. And you have the option to recycle your content.
All of the content you’ve scheduled on Instagram and other networks is displayed on a social media calendar, giving you the option to drag & drop posts to quickly tweak your schedule.
Given that Sendible is an all-in-one tool, you can also run reports for your social networks, including Instagram. There’s a report builder which is especially useful if you have clients.
You can use the built-in social media inbox to manage comments and mentions from all your social profiles – including Instagram.
There’s a built-in CRM with team management functionality which makes it ideal for marketing teams, agencies, and freelance social media managers.
Try Sendible for free without entering any card details. Pricing starts at $29/month for 12 services (not profiles), unlimited scheduling, RSS posting, social inbox, keyword monitoring, and more.
Higher plans unlock more services, extra user accounts, and additional features.
Tailwind is a powerful social media scheduling tool focused on visual social networks such as Instagram and Pinterest.
Aside from the scheduling functionality, Tailwind offers strong analytics functionality such as profile metrics, trend reporting, and virality & engagement benchmarks.
Like Sendible, Tailwind is an official Instagram partner so you get direct posting to Instagram with business profiles.
There are a few particularly useful features within this tool which include hashtag recommendations, hashtag lists, and a Chrome browser extension for regramming.
And while they offer a useful free plan, paid plans get extremely expensive when compared to the likes of Sendible as they are charged on a per account basis for their popular Plus plan.
There is a free forever plan with limited but useful functionality. Paid accounts start from $15.99/month for one Instagram account and 400 posts/month. If you pay annually, you get unlimited scheduling. Higher tier Pro and Enterprise accounts are available which offer additional features and more in-depth analytics.
3. Buffer Publish
When it comes to Instagram scheduling tools, Buffer Publish offers a simple and effective approach to social media scheduling.
Simply connect your social networks and decide how often you want to publish, and when you want to publish – then start uploading your content.
You can schedule to Instagram and other popular networks. You have the option of adding to a sharing queue or scheduling posts to be published at specific times.
Basic analytics, link shortening and a few other basic features are included on most plans.
Some important functionality is missing from the platform itself – notably the bulk upload feature. However, a third-party app called BulkBuffer can be used for this.
Buffer Publish pricing:
Buffer Publish offers a lifetime free account which supports 3 accounts, 10 scheduled posts and 1 user. Paid plans start at $15/month which increases the number of accounts and scheduled posts.
Instagram specific features such as a hashtag manager, publishing of stories, shop grid and other features are unlocked on the $65/month plan.
Hootsuite is another popular social media management tool with a strong focus on Instagram scheduling.
Sign up, connect your Instagram account and you’ll be prompted to convert your account to a business account to set up direct publishing.
When you’re ready to schedule your Instagram posts, click “new post” at the top of the screen and you’ll be able to prepare your post with a preview to the right.
Since Hootsuite supports many other social networks, you’ll have the option of publishing to other platforms as well.
Hootsuite allows you to set up social media streams so you can monitor messages, replies, etc. from platforms like Twitter. In the case of Instagram, you can add streams for hashtags, your posts and scheduled posts.
HootSuite offer a limited free plan for 3 social profiles and 30 scheduled messages which could be enough for some users. Paid plans start at $29/month which includes 10 social profiles and unlimited scheduling.
Later is the only tool on this list that started out life as a dedicated Instagram scheduling app. Since then, they have added support for other social networks.
Later has a strong focus on visual content. You can schedule content to Instagram and other social networks easily and stay organized using a social calendar.
Unlimited media is supported on each plan and you can upload media directly from Dropbox or Google Drive.
Whether you want to schedule image posts, videos, stories or carousel posts – Later supports them all. Although, videos and stories are not available on the free plan.
And, on paid plans you’ll get access to Instagram analytics to monitor engagement and follower growth.
Later offer a generous free plan with 1 profile per social network (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest). Each social network supports 30 scheduled posts apart from Twitter which is limited to 50.
Paid plans start from $9/month with increased limits and additional features such as scheduling of Stories/Videos, and analytics for some platforms.
Instagram optimization & growth tools
While some scheduling tools will offer some optimization and growth related features – it’s not their primary focus.
Now, let’s take a look at what tools are purpose-built to grow your Instagram following, engagement, and overall social media presence faster.
6. Ninja Outreach
Ninja Outreach is an influencer research and outreach platform with strong Instagram research functionality.
Influencer marketing is one of the best ways to get more customers. But how do you separate those who use automated tools to build a following from legitimate influencers?
Ninja Outreach provides a solution within it’s Instagram search feature – you can instantly see engagement rates and other data as you search.
You can then add your chosen influencers to a list and reach out to them.
It’s worth noting that you can do a lot more than searching for Instagram influencers – you can search for Twitter influencers, bloggers, and businesses. Ninja Outreach also manages the process of sending outreach emails.
Ninja Outreach pricing:
Try Ninja Outreach for free to see what you think. Plans start from $49/month when billed yearly and you get access to a database of 60 million Instagram influencers, 7 million Twitter influencers, 6 million bloggers and contacts for over 19 million businesses.
Shorby is a popular bio link tool for Instagram with a few extra useful features up its sleeve.
The single bio link and the inability to add clickable links to posts can be quite limiting.
So, what’s the solution? Use a bio link tool like Shorby to create a mobile responsive “SmartPage” with all the important links you need to share with your Instagram audience.
Using Shorby, you can create these pages within a few minutes. You can then view analytics to see what is driving the most clicks. Here’s an example I created for Blogging Wizard.
If you’re using Instagram for lead generation, you’ll find their Messenger Link feature useful. Simply add a telephone number, Whatsapp number, Skype username, or Facebook Messenger username and users can get in touch with you at the click of a link.
This feature can be used standalone or as part of a SmartPage.
And, you can use Shorby as a regular URL shortener.
Try Shorby for free. Paid plans start at $9/month for 3 Smart Pages and 3,000 tracked clicks. Higher plans unlock extra features such as Google Analytics integration, team accounts and more.
ShortStack is a powerful social media contest tool that makes it easy to run hashtag and comment to enter contests on Instagram.
If you want to grow your audience on Instagram, or any other social media platform – contests are incredibly effective.
ShortStack makes it easy to run hashtag and comment to enter contests on Instagram, as well as ask for permission to use the user-generated content (UGC) you collect after your contest wraps up.
If you’re running a hashtag contest, you can use ShortStack to gather all the images, video, text and usernames captioned with the contest hashtag(s) and @mention of the Instagram profile collecting entries.
You can show off the UGC you collect using ShortStack voting and sharing features. Better yet, ShortStack moderation tools provide you with complete control over what entries are displayed on your website.
You can also use their rights management tool to ask permission to use the UGC after your contest ends, which is especially useful for reposting UGC or featuring it in advertising.
Similarly, if you’re running a comment to enter contest, ShortStack allows you to instantly pull in all the comments on your public Instagram (or Facebook) posts as entries. Then, you can use their random entry picker to choose winners from the entries.
Try ShortStack for free. You can get a feel for their paid features before upgrading. Or you can stick with their limited free plan which supports 100 entries.
Instagram analytics, monitoring and reporting tools
While the native Instagram app comes with it’s own analytics functionality which can be quite useful – it is fairly limited. These tools offer more detailed analytics, monitoring and reporting functionality.
Some of the tools I mentioned earlier also include analytics – primarily Sendible and Later. Now, let’s take a look at what other solutions are available:
Awario is a best-in-class social media listening tool that allows you to track mentions, uncover growth opportunities, and monitor your competitors on Instagram, and other social networks.
There’s a reason why all big brands use social media listening tools – it helps them find opportunities to grow, support customers, and solve potential PR problems before they actually become a problem.
With Awario, simply set up alerts for keywords or hashtags you want to track and you’ll get an email as soon as the tool picks anything up.
You can find sales opportunities and reply directly within Awario. And you can find influencers to connect with, create reports, and more.
Aside from Instagram, Awario also supports Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, forums, and news, etc.
Try Awario for free and see what you think. Paid plans start at $29/month and higher plans include white labelling, API access, and shareable reports – perfect for agencies and in-house teams.
10. Social Insider
Social Insider is a powerful analytics platform that allows you to glean insights from your own profiles, and your competitors’ Instagram profiles. Facebook pages, YouTube profiles, Twitter profiles, and LinkedIn company pages are also supported.
There’s a saying in marketing; “if it can be measured, it can be improved.”
Here are a few examples of the sort of Instagram insights you can get from Social Insider:
- See which hashtags are actually generating engagement for you and your competitors.
- How often someone posts and what engagement they get.
- Monitor follower growth and engagement over time for you and your competitors.
- View engagement per post and per profile.
- Which post types generate the most engagement.
- Compare profiles side-by-side.
There’s plenty more you can get out of this tool, and you can set up tracking for specific hashtags – this will help you find secondary hashtags that are generating engagement instead of guessing which hashtags might work.
All of this data can be incredibly useful, especially when collating client reports.
There is one caveat – in order to add an Instagram profile, it’ll need to be a business profile. Fortunately, I haven’t found this to be much of an issue as more and more user accounts are being converted to business accounts because it’s a requirement for direct scheduling.
Social Insider pricing:
Try Social Insider for free. Paid plans start at $59/month with higher tier plans available which add extra features such as automated reports, API access, and more.
Iconosquare is best known as an Instagram analytics tool that also covers Facebook.
With Iconosquare, you can monitor your competitors, hashtags, profile activity, and more.
You can also monitor your engagement, follower growth and find which post types perform best, along with plenty of other useful data.
Want to find the best times to publish? Iconosquare will analyze your existing posts to find what works best for you.
In recent years, Iconosquare has expanded their feature-set to include publication and monitoring functionality.
Try Iconosquare for free. Paid plans start at $29/month.
Instagram hashtag tools
You can find hashtags by searching the Instagram app but the functionality is quite basic.
Social Insider and Iconosquare can be useful in terms of analytics. For example, I use Social Insider to find which hashtags are generating the most engagement.
If you’re looking for a free Instagram hashtag tool, try one of these:
12. Photerloo’s Instagram Hashtag App
Photerloo’s Instagram Hashtag app offers a unique AI-driven approach to finding hashtags.
Upload the photo you want to share on Instagram and this handy app will generate a bunch of hashtags based on your photo.
You can then select all of the hashtags and copy them ready for use on Instagram.
Photerloo’s Instagram Hashtag App pricing:
All-Hashtag is a simple hashtag generator tool that works by a keyword search.
This tool isn’t specifically designed for Instagram, but it’s a great way to get a list of hashtags that are relevant to your content.
Just enter a topic, select whether you want Top, Random, or Live hashtags and click Generate.
Toptager is a simple search tool designed specifically for finding Instagram hashtags.
To get started, search for a hashtag that is most relevant to the topic of your post and you’ll get a list of relevant hashtags organized by popularity.
Avoid using the # symbol or spaces when you search otherwise the tool won’t work.
Instagram marketing tools FAQ
Convert your account to a business account (it’ll only take a few moments). Then, add your credentials to one of the scheduling tools mentioned above. We use Sendible.
Yes – the native Instagram app offers useful analytics functionality. But, you’ll need to convert your account to a business account if you haven’t already.
There are a bunch of steps but the process will only take a few moments:
- Open up the Instagram app and go to your profile, then hit the hamburger menu on the top right of the app.
- Tap Settings.
- Tap Account.
- At the bottom, select Switch to professional account.
- Select Business account.
- Select Continue.
- Choose a Facebook page to connect with (if you haven’t got one, you’ll need to create one.)
- Review your contact info (you can choose to hide contact info from your profile) and tap Done.
Now, you’ll be able to see profile analytics by clicking the hamburger menu and choosing Insights.
And, you’ll see a View Insights option on each of your posts.
Unfortunately not. Currently, only business accounts support direct sharing to Instagram.
You’ll need to use a reminder service. This was the standard process that scheduling tools used in the past. It works by sending a reminder to your mobile phone when you have scheduled the content to go out.
While it’s not as quick as direct scheduling, it’s still an easy process.
Yes there are many but they usually go against Instagram terms of service. In short, we don’t recommend that you use them because you may get your account banned.
If you’re not sure that a tool is safe to use, check to see if they’re an Instagram/Facebook business partner.
The social proof might look quite impressive at first glance but these are simply meaningless likes and followers. They won’t help your business grow. And you could hurt your brand’s reputation when people look deeper and realise you don’t get much engagement.
Yes – the native Instagram app can do this. You don’t need any third party tools. Just connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts to Instagram.
The main limitation is that you can’t tailor your content to each social network.
Yes – an app such as Repost will allow you to do this.
The Instagram app supports ad management on a basic level, but you may want to check out the Facebook ad management platform. It offers a more granular feature set and it offers the ability to advertise directly to Facebook and Instagram.
The upshot is more reach and more potential ad types. And in case you didn’t know – Facebook owns Instagram.
Some free tools can give you a rough idea of hashtag popularity, but I’ve gotten some great results from Social Insider.
First, I’ll add my profile and it’ll show me which hashtags are working. Then I’ll add a popular and relevant hashtag to the tool – it’ll then show me related hashtags that get lots of engagement. Here’s an example:
Wrapping it up
While the use of other popular social networks is declining, Instagram usage is growing at a steady pace. In fact, they broke the 1 billion active accounts mark in 2018.
So, if you’re unsure as to whether Instagram is a worthwhile investment for your business – now is the perfect time to get started.
And with additional features such as Stories and IGTV, you have even more ways to grow your business using Instagram.
These tools can handle as little or as much as you need.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we may make a small commission if you make a purchase.