Black cat and laptop

Recent updates to Instagram will make it easier for shelters and rescue groups to get out the message about their animals and their organization.

The first change is the long-requested ability to schedule Instagram posts in advance. If you’re saying to yourself, “Couldn’t we already schedule Instagram posts?”, yes, you could… sort of. Although you could schedule them through third-party services, the actual post wouldn’t go through  unless you literally got out your phone and posted it manually. Now, Instagram has unlocked direct posting functionality for accounts using one of its official partners; the capability is not available in the app itself.

What does this mean for your animal organization? First, to take advantage of this feature, you’ll need to make sure your Instagram account is a business profile, or convert to one if it’s not. This is free, and in addition to giving you access to advance scheduling, they offer analytics that will help you understand how well you’re reaching your Instagram audience. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Log into your Instagram account on your mobile device
  2. Click on the little “gear” icon to access settings
  3. Scroll down to”Switch to businesss profile” and follow the indicated steps

If you’re not already using a scheduling app, you’ll also need to sign up for one. Most of them offer a free tier of service that should be enough for an organization with only one Instagram account. As of this writing, Hootsuite is the only Instagram partner to have implemented the change, but more partners are expected to launch the functionality soon. You can review all of them here. The precise steps to create a post will vary depending on which platform you use. Videos, multiple-image posts, and ads cannot be scheduled for direct posting at this time.

How will this help your animal organization get its message out? We recently wrote about data suggesting that Instagram posts made at 2 or 3 AM often out-perform those made at other times, as they’re in the feed when people look at Instagram before work. However, posting manually at that hour is a considerable obstacle for most animal organizations. Additionally, being able to schedule posts for times when manually completing the post on your phone isn’t always convenient or even possible; travel, illness, holidays, and other conflicts can present serious obstacles to a consistent Instagram publishing schedule.

Unlike the new scheduling functionality, duo-location livestreaming is available within the app itself. This provides animal organizations a number of interesting opportunities to engage their followers.

Using the feature is easy:

  1. Go to your feed (not your profile page) and click on the camera icon in the upper left hand corner.
  2. Select “Live” at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Once you’re streaming, the livestream account you want to join must be viewing it.
  4. Then tap on the icon that looks like two faces.
  5. Select the desired account to join the livestream.
  6. The livestream will resolve to a split-screen from two locations.

What can you do with this functionality? You can do interviews, livestream from adoption events, feature pets in their foster homes or invite followers in to join you for a Q&A. You can also become a guest on a livestream for another account, such as a local media outlet. The possibilities are bound only by your creativity!

Read the Instagram announcement of the new scheduling capability here.