Yesterday, I saw reports that Hootsuite was introducing post scheduling for Instagram, and I was kind of excited … and a lot worried. See, Instagram has always been pretty annoying to use for business or for promotion of, say, a little book called The Localist. A Hootsuite integration was a bright shiny promise to make promotion easier. That’s great for me as a promoter (hence the excitement), but it might be bad for me as an Instagram user who doesn’t want to see a feed full of scheduled, ad-like corporate posts (hence the worry).
Why’s Instagram So Annoying for Promoters?
For one thing, you can’t include live links in Instagram captions, which means I can use it to tell followers about a blog — but to actually read the blog, they’ll have to exit Instagram manually and open a browser, or click in a link in my profile. Most people aren’t going to do that. And for a second thing, you can’t schedule posts to Instagram, which means that you have to compose and post pictures in-the-moment (instantly, if you will), which means that if you’re on a book tour and you’re about to do a signing and you’re oh-so-nervous and trying to navigate a foreign city and carrying 50 pounds of books, you’ll also have to pull your phone out to take-a-pic-filter-a-pic-write-a-caption-tag-a-bookstore-hashtag-#localistbook-check-for-spelling-hope-you-didn’t-tag-the-wrong-bookstore. And for a third thing, you can’t toggle between Instagram accounts or run two accounts at the same time on your phone, which means that, if you’re running a business account (for, say, Church Street Coffee & Books) and a personal account (for, say, @crollwagen), you’re gonna do a lot of logging in and out of an App — and you’re probably going to make a lot of posting mistakes because you’re accidentally in the wrong account.
Does the Hootsuite-Instagram Mashup Fix All This?
Not really. I wrote a more detailed rundown of what Hootsuite can and can’t do with Instagram over at today’s Infomedia blog, but the short version is this: You can cue up a photo and caption (including hashtags and emojis) in Hootsuite and schedule it, but that doesn’t really post anything. Instead, it sends a push alert to your phone. Accepting that alert will open Instagram, where you’ll still have to filter and location tag the photo in the moment. Oh, and if you have two accounts? Tough luck. The post goes live on whichever Instagram feed you currently happen to be signed into — not necessarily the one where you scheduled the post. I’d write more about the functionality, but Hootsuite’s rolling it out throughout the day today, and my account is not among the chosen the currently have Instagram access (their customer support team assures me I’ll be up and running soon).
Is This a Total Suckfest for Instagram Users?
Nope. I think keeping Instagram tough for advertisers and social media managers to manipulate actually keeps it fun and functional for us as end users. Obviously, lots of advertisers have cracked the code for using Instagram to promote and advertise, but it hasn’t gotten out of hand — partly because it’s so tricky to use, and because a human has to be involved at several points in the process. That means I can still shove a selfie of me and my Localist book in your Instagram feed, but scheduling 12 of them to automatically post throughout the day isn’t so easy. In my book (the metaphorical one, not the literal book I was talking about in the last sentence … oh nevermind), that’s a good thing. It keeps Instagram a little more personal and a little more fun, meaning more people like to use it. Ultimately, a good user experience is a good thing for social media managers, too — even if it does make post scheduling a little more annoying than it has to be, and even if I have to juggle between my phone and a heavy box of Localist books every time I have a signing.
Follow Carrie Rollwagen on Instagram at @crollwagen. Carrie is author of The Localist: Think Independent, Buy Local and Reclaim the American Dream, creator of 30 Days of Local Praise and co-founder of Church Street Coffee & Books. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter @crollwagen.