If you’re one of the 70% of companies marketing on Instagram, you’ve probably been searching for tools that can help you gain an extra edge through desktop publishing, grid preview, hashtag analysis, and general Instagram metrics to help you understand what is and isn’t working.
Let’s now get started looking at some of my recommended Instagram tools that will help both enterprise users as well as Instagram for small business.
Instagram Tools for Image Creation
We can’t begin to talk about Instagram tools without first talking about Instagram content itself and what apps out there might help us create better images, videos, Stories and Reels.
There are TONS of apps that you can do for this purpose, and many of them have been written about in these two popular posts on this blog:
- Top Tools to Create Stunning Social Media Graphics
- 20 Instagram Apps to Create Perfect Business Instagram Graphics.
Instagram also has a host of tools both inside their app and other separate apps that can help you as well such as:
- Boomerang – Create short looping videos
- Hyperlapse – Create time lapse videos
- Layout – Create one-of-a-kind layouts from remixing our own photos
Now let’s move on to other highly recommended apps to help you create the perfect Instagram post.
Instasize offers a free and premium plan to help you make your Instagram posts stand out from all the rest. The free plan has filters, overlays, and editing tools to help make your IG posts pop. If you want to step up your game or use it as a business tool, the premium option is the way to go. With Instasize premium, you get over 100 filters, backgrounds, editing beauty tools, and story editing options.
Pricing: The premium option is just $4.99 per month and is geared towards social media influencers and experts. The free option is, of course, free.
Adobe is a recognizable brand for its PDF viewing and other uses. However, they have launched a free Instagram tool that helps you create scroll-stopping graphics and videos. Like Canva, Adobe spark allows you to choose from a pre-made template that can be edited with a few clicks. You can upload your own images, as well, and apply filters, stickers, enhancements, animation, and music.
Adobe Spark works for both IG posts and stories. You can also post to multiple social media sites directly from Spark.
Pricing: Adobe Spark is free for individual use. If you want to use it in a business and have collaboration access, there is a $19.99 per month fee. The fee also includes licensing options and 24/7 tech support.
Lightroom is another Adobe product that can be used to make your IG posts stunning. Incorporating Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom will transform your images and make them noticeable to all of your IG followers. Even if you don’t post on IG a lot, having access to Photoshop tools is a great feature.
To kick it up another notch, Lightroom allows you to store your images and make a website. Depending on what plan you purchase will determine how much storage space you have available.
Pricing: Plans start at $9.99 per month. If you need more than 1TB of storage, you can purchase up to 10 TB plans by calling customer service.
If you want to have eye-catching or Instagram posts that grab the attention of those scrolling through the app, Canva can help you create a great looking post without graphic design experience or extra software.
They have designs for all occasions so that you can jazz up your IG posts. Used by both IG fanatics and businesses, Canva can add a personal touch to your post. It is very easy to use so that you are not spending a great deal of time designing a cool layout. They have drag-and-drop editing tools to customize your post. You can also change colors, add your text, include outside images, and then download the post to share it from Canva to your Instagram account instantly.
If you have a marketing team that helps you create IG posts, you can collaborate with anyone simply by sharing a link. From there, they can continue editing and modifying the post.
Canva also lets you take an IG post that went viral and make cool merch out of it. They offer tee shirts, postcards, mugs, and much more.
Price: For individuals or small businesses where only one person will be creating IG posts, the tool is free. If you have a larger operation, there are paid plans that offer more templates and features. The Pro plan is $14.95, and the Enterprise plan is $30. There are also plans for educational purposes and non-profit organizations.
Comprehensive Instagram Management Tools
There’s no question that we need a wide variety of tools when we work with Instagram. But, some tools focus on certain areas to the exclusion of others. At the same time, there are other tools which take a more comprehensive approach to managing your Instagram content. They can be used to plan ahead, set automatic postings, and track analytics. You can execute the campaign from such applications, and measure their effectiveness in one place. These are some of the best.
Not only does Tailwind schedule your posts for you, it helps you with choosing your hashtags. According to the developers, this is an automatic process as you type the captions for your photograph. In other words, they’re there to lend as much of a helping hand as possible. What else does this application do? It synchronizes actions between your computer, tablet, and smartphone so you can work from anywhere. If you’re the type of person who goes on a lot of business trips, this is a really great feature. Other Instagram features include drag-and-drop post planning, and automatic reposts of older content. This application also works with Pinterest.
I love the versatility of Tailwind: you can upload pictures to the app from a wide variety of locations. Tailwind also offers the free smart.bio feature which is similar to Later’s “link in bio.” You can see a sample of mine pictured above!
Pricing: After letting you schedule a limited number of posts for free, Tailwind charges a separate price for Pinterest and Instagram versions of $9.99 monthly per account. However, there are some “power ups” that you can buy at a monthly $4.99 each.
For larger businesses and agencies that need to keep track of many different social media profiles, AgoraPulse is a good choice. That’s because it keeps an eye on the market for you. For Instagram, AgoraPulse does more than just help with post scheduling and development. It also keeps an eye on your Inbox, posts replies to comments, and manages Push notifications. Tags and hashtags can be added, too, though they aren’t researched like you see with Tailwind. AgoraPulse also works with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
One of the cool features of AgoraPulse that is pictured above is the ability to set up listening searches for the Instagram hashtags that matter to you. It also allows you to get your username mentions in the order they are received, something that can be challenging once your Instagram notifications start to get flooded with engagement!
Pricing: Free 28-day trial, then month-to-month costs of $99 and up depending on the number of social media accounts you need to manage.
Unlike some other applications, Sendible markets itself specifically for marketing agencies, and it does multiple accounts really well as a result. Key features include organic post creation tools, including limited image editing capabilities. Sendible’s analytics tools are expert, and designed with the advertiser in mind. Another great feature is the dashboard, which lists social media happenings for all your clients across platforms so you don’t have to switch back and forth between them to see what’s going on. There are also excellent social media mention monitoring and collaboration components, as well. Sendible works across a wide variety of social and advertising platforms.
One of Sendible’s cool features which is pictured above is the ability to post on Instagram without hashtags and then publishing those hashtags as a first comment, which some say might give your post some additional juice in the Instagram algorithm. While the verdict is out on its effectiveness, it DOES make your post look cleaner when you don’t use lots of hashtags at the end. Sendible also excels at their post previews, which let you see how they’re actually going to look before posting. You can also take the same content and tweak it within Sendible to fit multiple social platforms.
Pricing: 30-day trial, then pay based on the services you need and use. The least expensive plan is $29 per month paid monthly, and the most expensive is $299 monthly.
Sometimes it’s convenient to develop an entire week’s worth of content, and then release it slowly on a schedule. With Later, this is easier than ever, because the application lets you schedule posts or reposts, search content, and view analytics information. Not only does Later do this for Instagram, but it’s also compatible with Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. In other words, with Later you can work with those social platforms that are time-bound and visually oriented. It doesn’t work with some of the newer social platforms, but that’s OK.
Later is easy to use and does the job of scheduling everything in advance really well. It also includes their “link in bio” service to allow you to generate more website traffic and leads from you Instagram profile link. Furthermore, Later makes it easy for you to find user-generated content and then add it to your content library, as pictured above.
Pricing: There’s a limited-feature free version for individuals. Paid plans range from $9 to $49 monthly depending on your usage and desired features.
Be forewarned, Sked Social is specifically intended for Instagram marketing. However, it does also post to Facebook and Twitter, albeit recently. Another thing they do well is help freelancers and new e-commerce sites market their products and services, while letting them set and forget the actual posting. Analytics tools and mobile apps, along with excellent customer service help round out this specialized application.
Some in the industry say that Sked was the only Instagram tool that posted automatically. Regardless, they have excellent customer service and an attractive user interface. Check out how you can preview your grid before posting above.
Pricing: After a one-week trial, the cheapest plan is called “freelancer,” and has fewer features for $25 per month. If you have more than one Instagram account, you’ll want a minimum of the “marketer” plan at $75 per month.
Love the Apple ecosystem? Although this is set to change, Plann is an Instagram-only manager that works best on iOS and Mac. They have a comprehensive set of tools: scheduling, post and story design, and excellent analytics. Uploads are easy, since they can come from a variety of sources. Even better, the application will let you reply to posts and comments without logging into your Instagram account.
Plann excels at their collaboration tools that let you work easily with others on your team. They also have excellent customer service. If you want to learn more about Plann, check out my YouTube interview with Christy Laurence, Plann’s Founder.
Pricing: Individuals can run a basic version for free, or pay just $7 per month as a “power user.” Businesses pay based on the number of accounts they’re managing, starting with $15 per month for two.
While there are many Instagram-specific apps or Instagram tools with very specific Instagram functionality, many of the general social media dashboards that you already used have Instagram support and offer you another option. One of the most popular ones is Hootsuite.
In case you’re still new to the world of social media marketing, Hootsuite is a social media managing hub that allows you to post on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and others easily. You can track all of your comments through Hootsuite and respond, as well. In addition, you can schedule posts and collaborate with other team members for flawless posting. Hootsuite will work for you even when you are off the clock. You can even boost posts without having to go to each individual social media account.
Pricing: Prices start at $29 per month and increases depending on how many accounts you want to be linked. There are custom plans available if you need more than 20 accounts connected through Hootsuite.
Sprout Social is for those who need more than Hootsuite can offer, which is exactly why I transitioned to using Sprout Social many moons ago.
If you have a company that utilizes employee advocacy, Sprout Social can manage your companies posts across all of your employee’s accounts. Not only does the platform reach your audience through social media posts, but it also keeps track of all the analytics associated with each site and manages post performance.
Sprout Social can also help social media influencers keep track of what sites are getting the best exposure for each post and what content performs best. It is the ultimate posting and tracking tool for all of your social media accounts, including Instagram, of course.
Pricing: Sprout Social offers a 30-day free trial to get used to the platform. From there, a professional package will cost you $149 per month. This allows you to connect ten social media sites; offers competitive reports from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; gives you trend analysis for keywords and hashtags; and paid SMM boosts.
The popular social media scheduling tool Buffer can help you boost Instagram sales with Shop Grid, their unique Instagram link in bio service that is completely integrated with all of their tool’s functionality. If you are doing ecommerce you will definitely want to check it out.
Buffer also helps you build your company or social media influencer brand organically, rather than with paid or sponsored ads. Buffer helps you plan your posts and alerts you when it is time to publish your social media stories and accounts. In addition, the platform keeps track of your posts progress and provides you with easy to read analytic tools.
Pricing: There are two plans available through Buffer, Pro and Premium. Pro gives you access to eight social media accounts, provides in-depth analytics and strategic recommendations. Premium ups the ante to ten social media accounts, offers both post and story analytics, is Shopify integrated, and offers strategic recommendations.
Instagram Hashtag Research Tools
Posting on Instagram successfully has a lot more to it than just finding a nice picture and pithy caption. If you want to make sure that the right people find your posts hashtags are essential. Here are some tools to help you nail hashtags and get that all-important customer engagement.
Task Ant is a premium hashtag generator tool for Instagram that uses the official Instagram business account API. This is important because it means they don’t use or endorse any blackhat Instagram tactics to help you grow your account. In other words, it’s safe. Task Ant allows you to search, find, and work with hashtags geared to grow your profile. You can create a hub for all the hashtag sets you use on your content with in-depth analytics.
Pricing: $49/month. They also have a weekly option which works out to be more expensive but allows you to try out the tool.
Also known as “for display purposes only,” this is an easy-to-use Web database. It’s also super easy to use, because all you need is a starter hashtag. Something obvious, maybe, or perhaps it’s a product you’re trying to sell. No matter what you choose, Display Purposes will then give you a bunch of related hashtags to try with your picture. Another great feature is that the database will scan your Instagram account to find any hashtags that are considered spam or banned. This will help a bunch with recovering your account if you’ve been “shadow banned.” A bonus: they give you some Instagram marketing tips.
The above is a sample of the recommended hashtags that appeared from me simply typing #socialmedia #marketing #instagram.
Originally, this website was just another hashtag generator like Display Purposes. However, this free-to-use website has gone far beyond simply generating Instagram hashtags. Now, it will advise you what tags are good ones to use based on your keyword. In addition, there is analytic data available to help you choose the ones that are likely to generate the most traffic. Lastly, there’s a bit of a fun feature: the “top hashtags” function that’ll tell you what’s trending.
The above is an example of what appears after doing a search for #socialmedia.
For a mixture of hashtag generation and simultaneous analytics, try HashtagsForLikes. This one’s a bit different than the previous tools I’ve mentioned, because they help you boost your entire Instagram account by giving premium members access to a customer success manager who will help you reach your goals. In other words, this isn’t the tool for someone who just wants a bit of attention. It’s for the serious marketing professional or social media influencer who’s starting out.
Pricing: There are free hashtags available, but for the rest of the site you have to pay $15 per week, or $38 per month.
Want to split test your hashtags before releasing that new post on Instagram? Currently, Smarthash is the only app that will let you do it. Their whole model is built around AI analytics, so the app is highly automated. Another feature is the personal “heat map,” which tells you which hashtags on your profile are most effective.
Pricing: The app is run as part of your Instagram account, so you have to sign in to see details. However, info from the Apple Appstore gives us a look at pricing: Everything from an individual plan for $4.99 per month, up to “unlimited” at $89.99 monthly.
Another AI-based hashtag tool, Flick operates off both a website and mobile app. It’s a multifunction hashtag tool that starts by helping you find the right tags for each post, based on AI analytics. Then, you can save the ones you like in a library for later use, such as what you see above for a #socialmedia search, saving time with successive posts. Finally, metrics and reports further help you to remain successful over time.
Pricing: Converted from Pounds Sterling, pricing is around $6.50 for the most basic plan and up to $65.30 for agencies.
Instagram Analytics Tools
No discussion of Instagram tools would be complete without some analytics options. After all, it’s always important to glean insight to help you understand what to post on Instagram from analyzing your most liked Instagram posts, as well as show how your campaigns are performing if we’re going to get an acceptable ROI.
To really understand how effective your Instagram strategy is, you need to regularly check up on your metrics. Sotrender is a tool that’s particularly helpful for that. Unlike Instagram Insights, Sotrender provides you with more than 7 days of data. You get 30 days of historical data from the moment you connect your profile. From then on, your data are being collected and you can analyze them anytime with no limitations.
The tool provides the usual metrics that are available on Instagram Insights as well as their own unique metrics such as the Activity Index. These metrics fall under audience, user engagement, and content performance categories. To quickly find your top-performing posts and Stories, you can just scroll through the content tab.
When you need to prepare a summary of your Instagram performance, you can automatically generate a report in a few minutes, and for any period of time, that has a variety of charts and explanations.
Pricing: A 14-day free trial version of the app is available. Prices vary depending on the level of your subscription.
For real-time analytics on your entire Instagram account, Owlmetrics is a great tool. In particular, the application helps you get to know your audience demographics, and which hashtags catch their eye. Owlmetrics also allows you to add a link in your bio that helps track traffic to your website from Instagram similar to the offerings from Tailwind and Later.
Pricing: Based on how many followers you have, starting at $25 monthly for someone with 25k followers or less.
Need to know more about when is the best time to post on Instagram or what’s interesting your followers? Iconosquare is an analytics firm that also works with Facebook metrics. Unlike other providers, however, Iconosquare compares your business to others in the same industry, helping you understand your competition. Finally, tags and mentions are tracked, as well as direct engagement with your content.
Pricing: the least expensive plan, billed annually, is $29 per month. As you need more features and add profiles or team members, the price increases.
If you’re running an agency that manages a bunch of client social accounts, Social Insider is a comprehensive analytics tool to help you. In particular, Social Insider gives you information about the competitive scene in your client’s industries, and insight on what approaches might work, by analyzing the social media presence of the major players. This allows you to shape social media strategy based on what others are doing, and not just profile analytics.
Pricing: For social media managers, it’s $59 monthly, up to $199 for large agencies.
These are the 23 Instagram tools that are currently on my radar. I’d love to hear about your favorite Instagram tool in the comments below.
Hero Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
This is a post written on behalf of one of my marketing partners. All opinions are 100% mine.