By Princess Jones

Instagram is Facebook’s little sister. And what it lacks in longevity, it makes up for in freshness. With the recently rolled out business accounts and ad options, Instagram has come a long way in terms of being a robust social marketing tool. But it still lacked a third-party scheduling feature for a very long time. Instead, you’d have to set up a reminder on your scheduling app and then manually post it when the time came.

Until now, that is.

Instagram rolled out third-party scheduling just a few weeks ago and your favorite social media tools have been busy developing the feature on their platforms. Buffer is one the biggest and most popular social media scheduling apps and now that you can schedule directly to Instagram. You just have to set up your accounts to do it.

Getting Your Instagram Account Ready

Before you can start direct scheduling your Instagram posts, you need to switch to an Instagram brand account. Brand accounts have the ability to access analytics and ads, among other useful tools. And Instagram only allows third-party posting for those accounts.

Keep in mind that you can’t have a private Instagram account if you want to convert it to a business account. You’ll be prompted to change that setting. Also, at this time, Instagram still lets you switch back to a personal account. But that might change at any time. Be sure you want to take this step before you do it.

Start by opening the Instagram app and logging into the account you want to convert. Navigate to your profile and tap the settings wheel. Scroll down and tap “Switch to a Business Profile.” Tap “Continue” on the next few screens until you get to the part where it asks you to connect a Facebook page. Choose from the list of pages and move to the next page.

Instagram requires you to have a connected Facebook page for business accounts. If you choose to skip this step, Facebook will create a page for you and you’ll have to go back to claim it. You can unpublish the page afterwards, but it must exist.

Set Up and Schedule

Now that you’ve prepped your Instagram account, it’s time to get started with the scheduling. Open your Buffer account and navigate to the Instagram account you want to use. Click “Set up Instagram direct scheduling.”

At this point, if you haven’t already converted to an Instagram business account, you’ll be reminded to do that. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be taken to a new tab and asked to authenticate your Facebook account. Log into the site. Click “Finish and return to your dashboard.”

Now you’re ready to schedule your direct post. Place your cursor in the “What Do You Want to Share” box. Upload a photo. (Buffer can’t schedule an Instagram post without a photo.) Write the caption you’d like to post, including hashtags and tags. Click “Add to Queue” and Buffer will schedule your posts.

Direct posting can take some getting used to, especially if you were using the reminders prior to this. With reminders you had an extra step before content appeared live on your feed. You had time to refine your message or add tags. With direct scheduling you may not even realize the post has gone live until you start to receive notifications from likes and comments.

Read more Instagram tips and learn how you can leverage this social network in your digital marketing activities.