by Kris Maze
Instagram (IG) turned 10 years old in 2020 and it shows no signs of slowing down. The more photogenic daughter of the social media mogul, Facebook, IG has sparked international interest and energized sales for many businesses worldwide. The market is attractive to writers who want to sell more books, but the deterrent of manual publishing has kept writers from embracing this social media fully. Until now.
Auto publishing to Instagram is a desirable way to maximize an author’s time and effectiveness. IG has included updates and trusted partners to their app, making scheduling posts easier than ever. Writers can now plan book campaigns and author events months in advance. They can take the time needed to produce quality posts and engaging content that will grow their audience and increase book sales.
But it isn’t as easy as downloading an app update.
In researching steps to embark on my own IG journey (spoiler alert! My account is woeful and neglected.) I found the tricks and hacks available that enable the writer to save time and stress less. Technology changes moment by moment, but I’ll share the basics with you on making your IG adventure as photo-ready as possible.
3 Steps To My IG Plan
How does a writer access this world of easy social media publishing? Let’s look at 3 steps to work through and find the path that matches your writing needs:
- Consider the type of IG account you want to have
- Decide on a scheduling app
- Make a scheduling plan
Instagram Account Types
Before 2019, IG had only two account options: business or personal. Now users have a third option, the sexy Creator Account. They aim this account at influencers, public officials, entertainers, and personalities who have over 10,000 followers. Although the amount of followers is key to obtaining this option, the business account has many features, including auto publishing, that enable writers to grow their brand.
IG Personal Account
This is your standard account, available to anyone. I do not recommend using a personal/standard account for your author brand. It's better to have a designated account to focus on your author goals and sell your work. This account lacks features to auto publish and won’t be useful.
IG Creator Account
If you have a steady following on IG and haven’t changed to this account, consider the additional features this account provides. You can create a targeted marketing strategy and discover exactly how your audience interacts with your content. Compared to the Business Profile, the Creator Account has more specific and frequent insights on user behavior, providing daily reports on dips and spikes of followers and the content that prompted the change.
This account has the caveat that one needs 10k followers to join this somewhat elite club. If you are there - kudos, my writer friend! If not, it’s good to set goals. Maybe this is a motivating factor for your marketing.
This account provides more granular analytics, but also helps with creating content. The Creator Profile has access to the Creator Studio, which can manage, schedule, and post to Facebook Page and IG. Creator users can access their work from a desktop, or use a new mobile app, where they can search and edit their content from multiple pages in one place. The Creator Studio lets authors gain insights unique from other accounts because they include daily updates on followers and what actions they take with specific posts.
Instagram designed the Creator account for an individual user who wants to zero in on their followers and the content they engage with. There is a drawback though as Later, one scheduling partner with Instagram, states on their website: “Instagram creator profiles aren’t connected to the Instagram API, which means they can’t use features such as Auto Publish or Later’s analytics tools.”
Let’s move on to the best solution for most writers: the Business account.
IG Business Account
The Business Profile is the recommended IG account if you want to use an Instagram Partner to auto-publish on IG.
- Weekly analytics about followers and posts.
- Promotion and ‘boosts’ to posts as ads
- Ability to add links to IG Stories
- Check-out feature for purchases
- Quick Replies for inbox
- Schedule and auto-publish with an IG Partner
Steps to creating an IG Business Account
These steps include linking your IG account to a Facebook Page. I recommend that your Facebook Page is also business-related to increase the functionality of the auto-posts. The two work together to allow auto-publishing and they need to be linked. If this doesn’t occur, you will be prompted to publish your updates to Instagram with Push Notifications, even if you have an IG partner scheduling app.
Note: The graphic below explains the difference between Auto Publish and Push Notifications.
Even if an IG Business Account isn’t right for you, there are still conveniences you can utilize with a scheduling app.
Scheduling app features with non-Business accounts:
Most of these offer IG Push Notifications. These allow you to form your posts and with a few polishing steps (tagging, adding links and hashtag collections) you can still have the post nearly ready when posting manually. The following graphic illustrates a comparison between the Auto Publishing and Push Notifications.
Choosing a Scheduling App
There are many apps to choose from, but IG has a handful of selected services that have their blessing. I included three of the most popular "official partners" in this article.
Following is a brief description of the benefits of each, a link to their setup instructions, and a graphic comparing the features, prices, and content allotment. See how Hootsuite, Later, and Buffer stand up as major scheduling apps to your Author needs.
Be aware there are many companies that can auto-schedule your work. Be wary of ones not approved by Instagram as they are known to take action against those who don’t follow their guidelines and freeze or ban their accounts.
Auto Publishing may be the norm for most authors and entrepreneurs, but at Instagram it’s discouraged! Instagram supports a culture of spontaneous posts and users have had their accounts banned after using 3rd party apps to work around the IG rules to not auto-publish.
These three Social Media Management Apps are Instagram Partners and have full functionality to Auto Publish Posts in Instagram.
Hootsuite was the first recognized IG Partner. Although most of these scheduling partners have a more expensive option for businesses with multiple users or accounts, Hootsuite’s pricing begins at $29 a month. They have a 30 trial period, but no free usage after that. They offer a handy dashboard and detailed mobile app, allowing you to work remotely and on the go.
If you write for a nonprofit, Hootsuite has discounted pricing for nonprofits available upon request.
Other perks of Hootsuite include training and options for professional growth. "Rich in features and marketing knowledge, they have classes to support your learning about how to best use their marketing tools along with certification if you complete certain course work." If you want professional style marketing, this site gives you all the scheduling you could want and the training to master it. Official certification is available if that is your cup of tea!
If you don’t mind the price, Hootsuite may be for you.
- Their dashboard allows you to make informed decisions about what is working and where to put your next marketing efforts.
- This app allows you to connect with multiple social media profiles, including Instagram, so you can track all your posts, comments, analytics, and scheduled media all in one handy spot.
- Hootsuite's dashboard allows up to organize 10 multiple streams and unlimited posts.
- Note: If you are in the 30-day free trial, there is a limit of 30 posts scheduled at a time.
This Instagram partner boasts of a free forever option and has tiers of paid options to suit the needs of start-up companies and many author budgets. Paid options are called Starter, Growth and Advanced. As you pay more, the ability to schedule more content increases.
- The Starter level costs $7.50 per month and the author can schedule 60 posts per profile in their set.
- The Growth level is $16.50 per month, allowing up to 60 posts per profile.
- The Advance level is the most expensive at $33 per month, but allows the author unlimited posts for their profile set.
Each price point allows the author to group a ‘social set’ of profiles like a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, for one author brand. The free version allows the writer to post up to 30 items per social profile in the set, allowing more scheduling once previous content has posted.
Later allows auto-publishing to Instagram as long as the author’s account is a Business account on Instagram and it is linked to a Facebook Page.
App features include support, and an online community, to help you get the most from their product. Their dashboard keeps track of the posts and analytics to support your brand growth. They focus on reliable service for the smaller business, and perhaps this is what your author marketing needs.
Buffer, a popular scheduling service and Instagram partner, also supports auto publishing to Instagram.
- Buffer has a 14 day free trial followed by a $15 per month Pro level.
- There are more professional options for larger businesses and multiple users.
- The Pro level offers the author up to 8 social profiles or ‘channels’ along with 100 scheduled posts at a time.
- Product support and training
- Buffer also has a dashboard that allows the writer to see all their posts in one place.
Like the other apps mentioned here, Buffer will auto-publish to IG if there is a business account. The push notification is like the other programs, and allows authors who don’t have business accounts to plan their IG posts in advance.
The push notification option for IG does not allow cropping or filters from their site. Any photo tagging has to be completed when finalizing the post and manually publishing it. Like the other scheduling sites, authors can schedule as many posts as they like, and it adds them to the queue like any other posts.
Auto scheduling can happen safely and without the worry of having your account banned from IG, and you should be sure to research as the technology develops. Consider 3rd party schedulers that are IG partners and always follow the guidelines set out by Instagram.
See the specific instructions for the Service of your choice, but in general, these are steps each program takes:
- Convert to IG and FB business account and connect them for the best functionality.
- Schedule your content and become familiar with how each program rolls out your content, handles incoming comments, and shares analytics with you.
- Discover what peak times work for your targeted audience and change your plan accordingly.
Now it's your turn. What social media tips or tricks do you recommend? Have you had success with one of these three? Tell us about other successful programs down in the comments!
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Kris Maze is an author, freelance writer, and teacher. She enjoys writing twisty, speculative fiction with character driven plots. After years of reading classic literature, mysteries, and thrillers, she started to write her own books. Her first dystopian sci-fi romance, IMPACT, was published in 2020.
She also writes for various publications including a regular post at the award winning Writers in the Storm Blog. Influenced by short stories from Bradbury, Poe, O’Henry, and Jackson, Kris enjoys delivering a story with heart that keeps you guessing until the end.
When she isn’t spending time with her favorite people and pets, Kris Maze is taking pictures, hiking, or pondering the wisdom of Bob Ross. You can follow her author journey at her website at kmazeauthor.com.