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Scheduling Instagram posts and Reels

Instagram works a bit differently than other social networks, and not all posts can be published automatically. Buffer offers both direct scheduling (posts that can be published automatically) and reminders (posts that you’ll receive a push notification for). The scheduling process is the same for both, but the type of content you’re sharing will determine whether the post can be published automatically or not. Learn more about how Instagram works with Buffer here. When you schedule a post, we'll send you an alert if it's going to be scheduled as a reminder.

This article contains the following sections:

  1. Video walkthrough
  2. Creating your Instagram post
  3. Tagging users in images
  4. Adding first comments and using the hashtag manager
  5. Adding Shop Grid links
  6. Scheduling your Instagram post
  7. Scheduling Instagram Reels

Video walkthrough

In the video below, Katie walks you through how to schedule Instagram posts and stories using Buffer.

Creating your Instagram post

  1. To get started, select your Instagram account on the left hand side of your dashboard.

  2. Open the composer at the top of your queue.

  3. Upload the image(s) or video you'd like to include in your post and then type in or copy and paste the caption you'd like to use.

  4. If you'd like to add a location to your post, start typing any location name or type the name of a Facebook Page you'd like to point to the location of.

Notes

  • Images and videos must be within Instagram's accepted aspect ratio range (between 4:5 and 1.91:1 for images and between 4:5 and 16:9 for videos), in order to be published automatically. If the image or video falls outside of this range, the post will be scheduled as a reminder instead.
  • Videos must be between 3 and 60 seconds (or 5 seconds and 15 minutes for reels). If your video is not within this range, you'll see a message letting you know. You'll need to adjust the video and then re-upload it.
  • Videos must be 100 MB or smaller.
  • Instagram carousel posts do not support mixed media, meaning you will not be able to create a post containing both an image and video.

⭐️ The features below (image tagging, first comment scheduling, hashtag manager, and Shop Grid) are available on the Essentials plan. Learn more about our plans and pricing here.

Tagging users in images

User tagging is only available on single images that are being published automatically. It’s not available for posts that include multiple images (carousel posts), videos, or posts that are being sent as reminders.

  1. After uploading an image to your post, click the Tag button on the image.

  2. Click the location on the image you’d like to add a tag, enter the @ handle and then click Add Tag.

  3. A link to the Instagram account will appear on the right hand side. You’re able to add up to 20 tags on an image for a single image post.

    For carousel posts, the tagged accounts in the image are carried over for each image in the carousel. When this happens, each image tag is added together for a total. If your draft has more than 20 tags, you may see an error and will need to edit the tags down for the carousel post to successfully publish.

    Please note: all tags in the first image automatically carry over to all other images in the carousel, counting towards the limit.

    If you need to remove a tag, click the x icon to the left of it on the right hand side. Once you’ve finished adding your tags, click Save and then continue scheduling your post as normal.

📝 Due to limitations in Instagram's API, we are not able to auto-complete the @ handle and you will need to enter the exact @ handle of the Instagram user you’d like to mention. Additionally, we’re not able to check if the Instagram account is private or even if it exists. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to check each link that appears on the right hand side to ensure the correct @ handle has been entered and the account is not private. If any tags on your image are for private users, or for an account that doesn’t exist, the post will fail to publish and you’ll see an error message.

Using the first comment and hashtag manager features

If your post is set to be published automatically, you'll also have the option to include a first comment. Adding a first comment is helpful if you want to incorporate any information not ideally shown in your caption. What you share in your first comment, and if you use this feature at all is completely up to you!

All you need to do to ensure a comment publishes at the same time as your post is to type your first comment into the first comment field. That's it! 🎉 You now have a comment in the queue and ready to publish alongside your Instagram caption.

From there, you can think about whether or not you'd like to include a group of hashtags from your hashtag manager to your caption in the Buffer composer.

Hashtags are a great way to make your posts more discoverable on Instagram, and Instagram has shared with the world that they specifically look for hashtags inside captions (not comments). When scheduling directly (not through a reminder) and with an Essentials plan, the hashtag manager makes it easy to create and save groups of hashtags so that you can build a library of options, experiment with different variations, and easily reuse your top-performing hashtags.

⚠️ Don't see the first comment field or the # symbol? Click Settings in the upper-right and make sure the toggle for "Set Instagram Reminders for all posts" is disabled.

Click here to learn more about the hashtag manager feature: Using Buffer's hashtag manager.

Adding Shop Grid links

If you're using Shop Grid, add the link you'd like to direct users to within the Shop Grid Link field.



Scheduling your Instagram post

Once your post is ready, you'll have a few scheduling options, described below.

  • Add to Queue (default): Your post will be added to the next available time slot from your posting schedule. Depending on the type of post, it will either be published automatically at the right time, or you'll receive a reminder to your phone at that time.
  • Share Next: Your post will be saved at the top of your queue and be the next one to be published. Other posts in your queue will be bumped down one time slot. This option is only available on our paid plans.
  • Share Now: Your post will be published immediately, essentially skipping the queue. If the post is scheduled as a reminder, the notification will come through to your phone right away.
  • Schedule Post: You will be able to choose a custom date and time in the future for the post to be shared.

If your post was scheduled as a reminder, you'll see a bell icon in the queue. At the time the post is due to be published, the reminder will be sent as a push notification to your phone. Learn more about notifications and posting here.

Scheduling Instagram Reels

  1. In your publishing dashboard on the web, open the composer and select Instagram.

  2. Click the "Reel" option.

  3. Upload your video, in Instagram's accepted aspect ratio of 9:16 (0.56 numerical value). Provided your video is within the accepted aspect ratio range, your post can be published automatically. If the aspect ratio of your Reel falls outside of the range, your post will be scheduled as a reminder instead.

  4. Please note that as of July 2022, Instagram is sharing all videos as Reels. Read more information about that from Instagram here.

📝 Limitations within Instagram Reels

  • Scheduling Reels to Instagram works on the web based composer, but is not currently available using mobile.
  • Unfortunately, Instagram's current API doesn’t allow the option to add music to the post from Instagram's video library when scheduling via Buffer.
  • We are only able to pull in the number of likes and comments for Instagram Reels due to limitations with Instagram's API. We are not able to pull in other Reels metrics at this time.
  • Setting locations for Reels is not currently supported.
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