The 10 Best Instagram Scheduling Tools for Direct Instagram Publishing | 2021 Review

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Instagram has become a powerhouse social marketing tool for businesses, thanks to its highly-engaged audience. Instagram’s 2019 internal data found that 90% of users follow a business on the platform. 

However, with increased popularity comes fierce competition. According to eMarketer, 75.3% of businesses will be on Instagram by the end of 2020. 

social media usage

So, how do you push through the clutter to reach your target audience?

To outpace competitors and keep your brand top-of-mind, scheduling your Instagram content is essential.

But first, you’ll need a quality Instagram scheduler — or third-party application (app) for scheduling your Instagram posts. With so many tools to choose from, it can be challenging to make a decision. 

Here’s the good news:

We did the heavy lifting for you and compared the 10 best Instagram scheduler tools for 2021.  

Before diving in, here’s a brief look at what we’ll be going over:

Table of Contents

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Key Benefits of Scheduling Instagram Posts

Scheduling Instagram content in advance allows you to: 

However, it’s important to note that you must have an Instagram Business Profile to schedule Instagram posts.

How to Schedule Instagram Posts

  1. Strategize your content buckets 
  2. Decide on an Instagram aesthetic 
  3. Curate your media assets 
  4. Visually plan your Instagram feed
  5. Optimize your captions and hashtags 
  6. Determine the best times to post on Instagram
  7. Find and use the best Instagram scheduler

1. Strategize Your Content Buckets

Content buckets — also known as content pillars — are topic categories that focus on different aspects of your business to engage your target audience.  

General examples of content buckets include:

When strategizing content pillars specific to your company, consider your brand values and the key message points you want to get across. The goal is to create a foundation of diverse topics that align with your business to keep your Instagram grid fresh with relevant and exciting material. 

2. Decide on an Instagram Aesthetic

When it comes to your Instagram feed’s visual appearance, cohesion and consistency are paramount for success.  

Why?

The 2019 State of Brand Consistency report by Lucidpress found that consistent branding can increase revenue by 33%

decide an instagram aesthetic

The best way to ensure your Instagram Business Profile is cohesive and aligns with your brand messaging is to develop an aesthetic. For Instagram, aesthetic refers to your business profile’s overall look-and-feel or the “mood” that your content displays.

Take media company Brit.co’s Instagram account, for example.

brit co instagram aesthetic example
instagram aesthetic example

The brand is colorful, bold, and playful, which you can see reflected in its cohesive feed.  

To help you determine your brand’s Instagram aesthetic, we recommend creating a mood board, including:

3. Curate Your Media Assets

Now that you have a strategy and vision for your Instagram marketing, it’s time to bring it to life with curated media assets. 

Depending on your aesthetic, these can be graphics, images, videos — or a combination. 

To ensure you capture all the necessary images and videos, create a shot-list based on your content buckets before any media shoots. 

4. Visually Plan your Instagram Feed

Visually planning your Instagram grid before scheduling your posts allows you to see how your feed will look in advance. In doing so, you can prevent any off-brand content from being published and maintain a cohesive presence. 

The best way to do this is with a visual Instagram planning tool — often included as a feature within Instagram Schedulers. We’ll touch more on this functionality in our Best Instagram Scheduler Tool section.

5. Optimize Your Captions and Hashtags

Instagram is prone to “scrolling” behavior, so your copy needs to be engaging enough to catch a potential customer’s attention. For optimal performance, it’s best to keep your Instagram caption to two-to-three lines of text. 

Why?

Instagram truncates copy after 125 characters, and users must tap “More” to continue reading. 

Relevant and branded hashtags should also be included in your caption to increase searchability and brand awareness.

6. Determine the Best Times to Post on Instagram

If you search Google looking for the best times to post on Instagram, you’ll find a wide variety of answers. 

The truth is, it varies depending on key factors, like industry and geography.

The best way to determine when you should schedule Instagram content for your business is to look at your Instagram Insights

From your Instagram Business Profile on your mobile device, simply tap Insights > Total Followers. Scroll down, and you’ll find a section for Most Active Times (i.e., when your followers are most active). 

most active days
most active hours

Use this to develop and test out a publishing cadence. 

7. Find and Use the Best Instagram Scheduler

Instagram doesn’t offer in-app scheduling. Instead, businesses must use an Instagram post scheduler. 

However, not all Instagram schedulers were made equal. 

Some tools offer manual publishing with push notification reminders, while others have taken advantage of Instagram’s 2018 open application programming interface (API) update to offer direct Instagram publishing. 

When deciding on the best Instagram scheduler to use, keep these three things in mind:

Best Instagram Scheduler Tools

  1. Fanbooster
  2. Sprout Social
  3. Later
  4. Buffer Publish
  5. Sked Social
  6. Tailwind
  7. Hootsuite
  8. Combin Scheduler
  9. Iconosquare
  10. Sendible

Below is a detailed comparison of each Instagram scheduler tool —  including assessments of top features and pricing plans. 

The list focuses on tools that support direct scheduling to Instagram, because who wants to use the manual smartphone workaround? 

No one

1. Fanbooster

fanbooster

Fanbooster is more than an Instagram scheduler; it’s a full-scale social media management tool for businesses and agencies. You can plan, review, schedule, and directly publish Instagram content.

Additionally, you have access to in-depth analytics to monitor your social performance across platforms. 

Fanbooster supports all the top social media platforms, including:

  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest

For users on-the-go, Fanbooster offers a seamless mobile app in the App Store and Google Play. 

Fanbooster also makes it easy to edit media assets without leaving your dashboard through the native Canva integration. You can even geotag and target your posts upon scheduling. 

Instead of a free plan, Fanbooster offers a 14-day free trial to test out any of our premium plans. 

If you’re looking for a powerful, all-in-one social media management tool with more advanced features — Fanbooster is an excellent option. 

Top Fanbooster Features:

Best Instagram Scheduler for: Social media marketers, agencies, medium-to-large-sized businesses

Price: Free 14-day trial; $49 per month for Standard; $99 per month for Advanced; $199 per month for Pro

2. Sprout Social

sprout social

Like Fanbooster, Sprout Social is a social media management platform that features Instagram publishing and several other social tools (i.e., automation and analytics). 

With Sprout Social, you can edit your media in-app and store your files in an asset library, as well as automate Instagram posts for direct publishing. 

Sprout Social is more focused on the enterprise market and large teams based on its price and functionality. With no free plans and a hefty price tag — starting at $99 per user per month — the tool is out of reach for most small agencies and freelancers. 

If you can foot the bill, Sprout Social’s ViralPost® technology is worth taking advantage of for your Instagram Business Profile. The feature analyzes your engagement data to determine optimal posting times for manual or automated distribution. 

Top Sprout Social Features:

Best Instagram Scheduler for: Agencies, medium-to-large-sized businesses, enterprise

Price: Free 30-day trial; $99 per user per month for Standard; $149 per user per month for Professional; $249 per user per month for Advanced

3. Later

later

Later, trusted by an astounding four million people, is most popularly known as a visual Instagram marketing platform for creatives.

Later’s scheduling and publishing features allow you to auto-publish single-image and video posts to Instagram. You can also schedule your first Instagram comment to keep your captions organized and visually plan out your Instagram grid before going live. 

Among Instagram post scheduling, some of Later’s notable functionalities include:

Later offers a free version, but you’re limited to 30 posts on one social platform per month. 

The free version includes basic features, like: 

If you want more in-depth analytics on your social performance or to auto-publish video to Instagram, you’ll need a premium plan. The good news is, even premium versions of Later are relatively cost-effective.

Top Later Features:

  • Direct image and video publishing to Instagram
  • A shoppable feed with links

Best Instagram Scheduler for: Bloggers, social media marketers, small business owners, agencies, e-commerce


Price: Free Forever plan; $12.50 per month for Starter; $20.50 per month for Growth; $33 per month for Advanced. Premium prices are based on annual billing

4. Buffer Publish

buffer publish

Buffer Publish is the scheduling and publishing arm of the well-known social media management app, Buffer. 

Along with Instagram, Buffer Publish supports direct scheduling to each of the leading social networks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn). 

According to its claims, Buffer has more than 75,000 business users. 

So, what’s all the hype?

Buffer Publish has many great additional capabilities for Instagram, such as visual planning for Instagram Stories (Stories) and the ability to schedule your first comment. 

The scheduling tool also boasts features for e-commerce businesses like Shop Grid, a shoppable landing page for your link in bio. 

Unlike Fanbooster, Sprout Social, and Iconosquare, Buffer Publish requires separate pricing for access to analytics. If you’re looking for a powerful Instagram scheduler and don’t mind the lack of insights, this may be a good option for you. 

Buffer Publish does have a basic free plan with one user, three social channels, and 10 scheduled posts per month. There’s also a free 14-day trial available for any of the premium plans.  

Top Buffer Publish Features:

Best Instagram Scheduler for: Individuals, startups, large teams, e-commerce, agencies

Pricing: Free 14-day trial; Free for basic features; $15 per month for Pro; $65 per month for Premium; $99 per month for Business

5. Sked Social

sked social

Schedugram rebranded to Sked Social in 2018 to expand beyond an Instagram marketing platform to a full-scale social media management tool. 

In terms of look and feel, Sked Social is most similar to Later. Drag-and-drop your content in a visual grid planner, manage multiple Instagram accounts, and use in-app image editing tools on desktop and mobile. 

Sked Social is the only Instagram Scheduler listed to auto-publish Instagram images, videos, carousels, and Stories. 

This tool is extremely flexible, and with it comes a higher price tag. However, Sked Social is a great advanced solution for social media experts.  

Top Sked Social Features:

Best Instagram Scheduler for: E-commerce, agencies, freelancers, retail, corporate 

Price: Free 7-day trial; $25 per month for Fundamentals; $75 per month for Essentials; $135 per month for Professional; contact for Enterprise pricing

6. Tailwind

tailwind

Tailwind’s Instagram marketing interface may not look as aesthetically pleasing as Later or Buffer, but what it lacks in “curb appeal” it makes up for in “smart” features. The platform differentiates itself as a smart Instagram marketing assistant for planning and scheduling Instagram posts. 

So, what makes Tailwind so “smart”?

Tailwind offers Smart.bio — a link in bio tool that provides a free branded landing page for a shoppable Instagram feed and automated link updating.  You can also schedule Instagram posts automatically during peak engagement times using its SmartSchedule feature. 

Like the other Instagram scheduling tools, Tailwind offers direct Instagram publishing for single images and videos. 

There is no free version of Tailwind, but they do offer a free trial with no time limit. You get up to 30 scheduled posts to test out. 

If you decide to buy, the pricing for Tailwind is affordable. One Instagram plan encompassing all the platform’s features starts at $9.99 per month (billed annually). 

Tailwind is great if you’re just starting with Instagram marketing or want a powerful, no-fuss Instagram scheduler.

Top Tailwind Features:

Best Instagram Scheduler for: Non-profits, enterprise, bloggers, influencers

Price: Free trial (up to 30 scheduled Instagram posts); premium plans start at $9.99 per month for Instagram Plus when billed annually

7. Hootsuite

hootsuite

Hootsuite has been around for more than a decade, and according to the platform, it’s got 18 million customers to show for it. 

Similar to Fanbooster and Sprout Social, Hootsuite is a social media management platform supporting all the main social channels.

When it comes to Hootsuite’s Instagram tools, you can plan, schedule, review, and publish content directly to your Instagram Business Profile from the desktop and mobile app. You can also monitor social conversations, bulk schedule content, and track post-performance. 

Hootsuite offers a limited free plan for one user, three social media profiles, and up to 30 scheduled posts per month. But, to see the real value offered by this tool, you’ll need to invest in the Professional tier at $29 per month (billed annually). 

Compared to other Instagram schedulers, Hootsuite is on the more expensive side. 

Top Hootsuite Features:

Best Instagram Scheduler for: Entrepreneurs, small teams, enterprise, government, higher-education, agencies 

Price: Free 30-day trial; limited free plan; $29 per month for Professional; $129 per month for Team; $599 per month for Business; contact for Enterprise pricing 

8. Combin Scheduler

combin scheduler

Similar to Later, Combin Scheduler is another robust Instagram marketing tool to consider when searching for the best app to schedule Instagram posts. 

Built to plan and automate Instagram content, Combin Scheduler is a free desktop app for Mac, Linux, and Windows users. 

Combin Scheduler allows you to visualize your Instagram grid layout before scheduling and auto-publishing images and Stories. You can also edit the photo size, add location tags, and copy and paste hashtags from your saved templates. 

Not to mention, you’re able to connect up to 15 Instagram Business Profiles. 

On the downside, the Combin Scheduler app must remain launched or enabled to run in the background for it to function correctly. Additionally, Combin Scheduler is not a tool that can manage all of your social media platforms.

Top Combin Scheduler Features:

  • Free for everyone
  • Direct-to-Instagram photo and Story publishing

Best Instagram Scheduler for: Freelancers, bloggers, social media marketers, business owners, e-commerce 

Price: Free

9. Iconosquare

iconosquare

Founded in France in 2011, Iconosquare has transformed into an analytics, publishing, and social management platform.

With clients like Ikea, H&M, and National Geographic, Iconosquare is a popular enterprise solution. 

You can drag-and-drop media to plan your feed, view suggestions of recently used hashtags, and auto-publish your Instagram content. Like Buffer and Later, you can also schedule your first Instagram comment. 

On the downside, there aren’t many features available for the basic premium tier considering the price of $29 per month. 

Top Iconosquare Features:

Best Instagram Scheduler for: Marketing professionals, small businesses, enterprise, agencies 


Price: Free 14-day trial; $29 per month for Pro; $59 per month for Advanced; contact for Agency pricing. Premium prices are based on annual billing.

10. Sendible

sendible

Sendible is known as the best Instagram scheduler for multiple accounts — its Starter tier provides connections for up to 12 social media profiles.  

Sendible offers notification-based scheduling for Instagram Stories and multi-image posts, and direct publishing for single-image and video posts. Like Fanbooster, Sendible has a Canva integration for in-app editing a mobile app for iOS and Android. 

A few additional features include:

When it comes to platform structure, Sendible is built to scale with you as your business or client list grows.

Top Sendible Features:

Best Instagram Scheduler for: Agencies, small businesses, solopreneurs, large teams  

Price: Free 14-day trial; $29 per month for Starter; $99 per month for Traction; $199 per month for Growth; $299 per month for Large

Final Thoughts: The 10 Best Instagram Scheduler Tools for 2021 Compared

Instagram is a gold mine for businesses that know how to leverage the platform. 

Scheduling Instagram posts in advance will allow you to create higher quality content quicker and outshine your competitors. Before posting to your business Instagram page, make sure to run through the best practices on scheduling content. 

No matter which Instagram scheduler app you decide on, you’ll be in good hands with any of the options above.

Start your free 14-day Fanbooster trial

Fanbooster delivers a powerful suite of social media scheduling, publishing, reporting, and monitoring tools. Save time and money with the most affordable social media management software on the market.
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