We're Erica + Jon, professional photographers, Mr + Mrs and Mom + Dad. We like to share insights into our industry, behind the scenes and stories about our life and chips + salsa obsession.
Did you know that 75% of our new business inquiries come to us through Instagram?! That’s a huge number, so naturally, we invest a lot of time creating content for that platform. We’ll also be the first to tell you that Instagram can become a difficult, all-consuming force in your life if you let it. Planning content, scheduling it for the right timing and making sure everything lines up visually can be a daunting task, and that doesn’t even take into account replying to comments and the ever-present temptation to get ‘lost in the scroll!’
So how do you use Instagram effectively, curating photos that flow seamlessly, respond to comments, and still have a life? Our answer has been a helpful app called Planoly. It’s a total social media strategy platform you can put in your pocket! Planoly helps you plan and schedule content in advance and even allows you to interact with your audience without ever opening Instagram. As a bonus, Planoly tracks metrics for you that help you create even more effective campaigns going forward. We’ll walk you through a few of our favorite features and show you how you can use Planoly to plan and schedule Instagram posts (and get your life back in the process!)
Once you create a Planoly account, you’ll want to enter the grid view. Planoly automatically pulls in your 18 latest posts so that you can view them in the grid as you begin adding content for planning. We find this incredibly helpful as it allows us to truly curate our feed and make sure the images flow visually.
You can upload up to nine images at a time from your phone, Dropbox, or Google drive and drag and drop them around the grid to find the perfect flow for your imagery! We pay careful attention to colors, making sure the overall color scheme transitions nicely. We also watch out for different compositions making sure we don’t post content that is too similar back to back.
If you click on an individual photo, you’ll be able to write and save captions for that picture to use at a later time. You’ll notice that the app also auto-suggests accounts to tag and hashtags that might be fitting for your content. The individual photo planning screen also shows your tag and hashtag limits so you can prioritize more easily.
Finally, slide the ‘Schedule’ slider to the right to set a date and time to schedule that future post. Back in your grid view, you’ll see a blue ‘S’ next to schedule posts and a pink ‘U’ next to unscheduled posts. The scheduled posts will be locked into position while the unscheduled posts will still be able to move around the grid!
Clicking the calendar icon will bring you to your calendar view. This shows you all live Instagram posts and also displays scheduled posts in a calendar format. When you click on an individual day, you’ll see the posts for that day along with a quick snapshot of the engagement that post got displayed in total likes and comments received. You can also use this screen to see if there is any correlation between posting times and user engagement!
The bar graph symbol to the right of the plus sign brings you to the analytics page Planoly has built into their app. You can view data on any range you’d like to including weekly, monthly and yearly summaries. The data shows total likes and comments received and also gives a helpful comparison from week to week to show you how your content is doing compared to previous content.
The data here is really a great insight that can be powerful if you take the time to understand it and plan future content around it. The goal is to continue to provide content that engages with your ideal client and audience. Being able to identify what that content looks like and being able to narrow your focus in those areas helps you speak to those clients directly on a more consistent basis!
There are two other features of Planoly that really help give you control of your life by eliminating that constant temptation to open Instagram and start ‘the scroll’. Don’t get us wrong, you need to use Instagram to engage with your audience and others, but you need to do that on YOUR time. The scheduling and comment management features of Planoly allow you to post your content and engage with followers without needing to dive head first into Instagram and possibly lose 5 minutes (or hours!) scrolling through your feed.
Instagram doesn’t allow third-party platforms to automatically post content to your grid on your behalf, so Planoly has a helpful feature that is the next best solution! Once you have your posts scheduled, Planoly sends you a push notification letting you know when it’s time to post. Simply click that notification and click the ‘Post’ button once Planoly opens. The app will automatically copy your previously saved caption and hashtags for you. Then click the Instagram icon once it appears. This will open Instagram and populate the photo for you. Finally, double tap the caption field and paste the caption and hashtags Planoly automatically copied into the field and post!
The comment bubble in the bottom right-hand corner of the app shows you comments in chronological order. Within the app, you can reply directly or even star or flag the comments to reply to later. Simply click on the comment, enter your reply and click ‘post’ and your comment is automatically live on the ‘Gram! Don’t have time to reply to everyone at once? Star or flag them to reply to later when your schedule allows.
We love this feature because again, it allows us to use Instagram on our own terms without the temptation for lost time opening the actual Instagram app. We can jump into Planoly, review comments and respond without ever seeing our feed which keeps us more productive during those portions of our day!
So, if you’re like us a recognize the power of intentional marketing on social media, this tool comes with our highest recommendations! By the way, if you’re interested in creating custom imagery for your social media feed, that’s our jam and we’d love to talk! Hit us up on our contact page or schedule a time to chat on the phone – we’d love to talk with you!