More and more people and brands are using Instagram Stories every day – in fact, the number of daily users has grown by over 50M in just the past year. There are now over 400M active daily users for Instagram Stories.
But, just as with normal Instagram posts initially, Stories were designed to be shared only from your mobile device, and only at the moment you wanted to share – no scheduling. While there is some hope and expectation that Instagram will release API functionality that permits direct publishing and scheduling of Instagram Stories via third party tools, that’s simply not an option today.
However, there is a way that people and brands can schedule Instagram Stories from desktop using a third party tool… a clever little workaround that’s quite easy to use, and will accomplish exactly what you’re looking for.
Why Schedule Instagram Stories?
I know the purists out there are already grumbling at me as they read this. They’re saying, “But Mike! Social Media and the Story format in particular is supposed to be vivre l’instant présent” – live in the moment. They believe that the best social content is that which is shared in an authentic, real-time way.
I respectfully disagree.
While I think there’s nothing wrong with real-time posts, particularly ones that are expressing your personal emotions (joy, sadness) or opinions (outrage, support) at a particular moment, there’s also something to be said for the carefully considered and artfully crafted post. Whether it comes from a person or a brand is irrelevant.
There’s a place for thoughtful content.
And while thoughtful content can be shared as soon as it’s ready just as any other post, part of the thoughtfulness can include, “Is this the right time for this post?” or “How does this post fit alongside the rest of my Story?”
In fact, that careful consideration of how each post within a Story fits alongside the other posts is actually quite a compelling argument. While it’s OK to add random posts to your Story that each have their own meaning, that’s hardly a compelling story overall.
Think about the best books and novellas you’ve read throughout your life. Each chapter wasn’t a random piece of a random person’s life. The chapters progressed through a tale that provided you with depth of meaning and emotion.
They told… a story.
If you take the time to create and publish a series of posts to your Instagram Story, you can bring your audience into your tale and keep them engaged with your brand in a way that many others are not and will not.
And if you’re doing that, you’re likely doing it from Desktop in order to take advantage of superior image editing and graphic design, making the option to publish and schedule Story content from desktop extremely desirable.
So here’s how.
Publish And Schedule Instagram Story Content From Desktop
Since the Instagram platform is designed to be used via mobile device, there’s no option to post directly to Instagram from desktop. You need to either send content to your mobile device and publish manually, or use a third party tool like Agorapulse.
Agorapulse can actually do a lot for you, particularly for Instagram. You can schedule and publish regular Instagram posts (square images) directly, as well as monitor comments on the posts. You can call up reports on how your Instagram audience and profile is growing, and even keep an eye on comments made to Instagram Ad posts!
You can also publish and schedule Story content.
Currently, the Instagram API doesn’t have an explicit permission or hook for this feature, but I have a clever hack for you.
Once you’ve signed up for Agorapulse and connected your Instagram account, go into your profile settings and turn OFF Direct Publishing. This is the feature that business accounts are able to use to publish and schedule normal Instagram posts “hands-free” – without a notification on your mobile device.
With that setting turned off, any published or scheduled content to your Instagram profile, via Agorapulse, will behave in this way:
- Create the content (an image or graphic that is 1080px by 1920px, or a 9:16 aspect ratio, is recommended, but you may choose to share any size image if you wish) and set up a share of that content within Agorapulse as you would any other post.
- At the designated time to publish (either immediately or at a set time and date of your choosing), the Agorapulse app on your mobile device will notify you that it’s time to publish an Instagram post.
- Agorapulse will send your image content into the Instagram app (normally caption text would be added to your clipboard, but that’s not needed for a story). Here’s where the hack comes in.
- Instagram will now prompt you whether you wish to post to your feed or to your story, and simply select story! You now have your story image ready to be further edited within Instagram if you wish and then published.
Now you can publish Instagram story content from desktop whenever you wish. And if you have your Facebook Page or profile synced, you can use this technique to schedule and automatically publish updates to your Facebook Story as well.
Instagram Story Published From Desktop Example
Let’s walk through a quick example.
For instance, I created this 1080px by 1920px graphic (which will also work very well for Pinterest) using Canva:
I then opened Agorapulse and started to create a new social media post with this graphic, selecting my brand Instagram profile.
Note that with Direct Publishing disabled, a small red smartphone icon appears next to your profile to indicate any content published will be sent via Push Notification. Note too that once you’ve selected a profile and uploaded an image (and you can choose to share to multiple profiles if you wish), you can then opt to Publish Now, Add to queue, or Schedule!
At the time you chose, you will get a push notification on your phone that looks similar to the screenshot above. Tapping that will open your Agorapulse app and step you through sending that image to Instagram and adding it to your Story. If you have more than one Instagram profile, make sure that you’re logged into the correct one before tapping on “Copy to Instagram.”
With the new Instagram API coming soon, there’s hope for direct story publishing as well as story analytics. For now, though, many will find this technique extremely helpful. And definitely consider using a social media planner and set of calendars and worksheets to consider and plan how these Instagram stories will integrate with the rest of your social media marketing.