How to Automate Instagram Posts

Learn how to Automate Instagram Posts instantly. Crazy right?

What if you could save thousands of hours by producing content automatically then posting to facebook and instagram?

This growth hacking guide on automating instagram posts will introduce you to the era of engagement in SoMe marketing.

The goal of this growth hacking guide is to help readers spend less time creating content and more time engaging with users. We all know that in order to create compelling, authentic and useful content, it takes time.

For a small company or a startup, you probably don’t have many employees to both work on a piece of content.

Then upload those social posts day after day onto multiple platforms.

All the while leaving time to interact with your followers.

And you wonder why you have put the “best” content out there and is still don’t have readers.

In this growth hacking guide, we will show you how to:

1. How to create 50 unique posts for Facebook and Instagram using a dataset containing text, image and brand logo on a fixed corporate template design.

2. How to upload and schedule a large number of posts to Buffer with images all at once.

Naturally, these platforms have become a must-goto place for businesses, big or small, to reach and interact with their new and high potential customers.

According to 2018 Global Digital Report, the number of people using social media every month has hit around 3.2 billion people globally, making up nearly half of the world’s population.

People don’t just connect on social media with brands they’re already familiar with. As reported by Facebook, 60 percent of Instagramers claim they learn about new brands and their products while scrolling through their account feeds.

There are lots of benefits for businesses who utilize social media, and Hootsuite does an excellent job of covering this topic with their article, “23 Benefits of Social Media for Business”.

Whoever you are and whatever your brand tries to sell or do, if it hasn’t been marketed on any social media sites, it might as well not exist. In fact, it may be one of the very first steps you have to make when you start your business.

But before you can get a better social media strategy you need followers.

Sure, there are ill-advised shortcuts you could take to boost traffic like adding fake followers, gaining fake likes — but what’s the point of joining the dark side of social media marketing?

Grow your following the honest way. That’s the only way your SoMe strategy will deliver real sustainable results over time.

Increase your followers on Instagram and your group members on Facebook by doing the following:

  • Sharing fascinating content
  • Hashtag relevantly
  • Post on the right day, at the right time
  • Share your Instagram account on other communication platforms
  • Engage with other communities

Hubspot has made “How to Get Followers on Instagram: The Ultimate Guide”, so click on the link to learn more, and scrolling through for the complete list of tactics.

Grow your following the honest way. That’s the only way your SoMe strategy will deliver real sustainable results over time.

How to create 50 unique posts for Facebook and Instagram using a Data Set

The Ultimate Growth-Hacking Guide to Bulk Posting: Containing text, image and branded logo on a fixed corporate template design.

This can be an intimidating task if you’re not totally familiar with data-driven graphics using Adobe Photoshop.

Fortunately, with a little help from your graphic design team, you can streamline these steps. You’ll be able to quickly and effectively produce multiple posts with different text and images for not just your social media platforms but also for print and web projects.

Step 1. Get the content:

Quotes are inspirational and tend to get a fair amount of engagement within the startup scene.

You can collect all your favorite quotes by hitting a variety of sites. If you don’t want to do the work, here’s a breakdown of a ton of quote resources:

Template: Inspirational quotes by type

Build a list of your favorite quotes. These quotes will go inside the image you’re creating in the future.

growth hacking guide to collecting quotes

Step 2. Find the image:

Next, you need to find the images that somehow give the quote more value or demonstrate it metaphorically.

Use any of the following online resources to find royalty free images with Creative Commons license (CC0): 

  1. Pexels   
  2. All the free Stock 
  3. UnSplash  
  4. Splash Base  
  5. Startup Stock Photos  
  6. Jay Mantri  
  7. Moveast  
  8. Travel Coffee Book  
  9. Designer Spics
  10. Foodies Feed
  11. Jeshoots
  12. Pixabay
  13. Splitshire
  14. Free Range Stock
  15. Gratisography

Make sure all images are (.jpg) files. We recommend you to save the images and rename them using their quotes’ order as 1.jpg, 2.jpg, 3.jpg, etc. This makes the next step a lot easier. NOTE:

Be aware of the attribution or citing where your images come from for free use.

Step 3. Build your (.csv) or (.txt) data sets:

Data-driven graphics on Adobe Photoshop requires you to prepare a .csv or .txt file (using Google/Microsoft Docs or Excel), in order to load that file into a PSD document.

The CSV Setup is Simple:

including all the elements of your post that change, in this case, it will be the quotes you just found in Step 1 (listed in Column A, named ‘text’) and stock images in Step 2 (listed in Column B, named ‘image’) that to pair with your quotes.

Afterwards, the excel file should look something like this: Quotes – CSV

growth hacking guide to the CSV setup

Remember to export the file to a plain text file (.txt) or comma-separated values file (.csv). Move the file into a separated folder along with all the downloaded images.

Sometimes, the layout of the excel file turned completely different after exporting as a (.csv) file.

So if you have any of those problems, try to enter data in a (.txt) file instead.

It will work perfectly fine.

NOTE: (for Mac Users) There seem to be a few problems when it comes to using Microsoft Office 365 in Mac, starting from the 2016 upgrade version, where (.csv) files created/edited in Office for Mac 2016 Excel are not readable by the processing applications (like Adobe Photoshop).

Step 4. Open your corporate template design or create a new one for this particular project.

Use layers to separate the elements that you want to change in the graphic. Below are our corporate templates:

NOTE: Keep in mind the company’s visual identity (logo, fonts, color code, etc). Learn more about “How to Build Social Media Branding Guidelines”.

Sometimes, the layout of the excel file turned completely different after exporting as a (.csv) file. So if you have any of those problems, try to enter data in a (.txt) file instead. It will work perfectly fine.

Step 4. Open your corporate template design or create a new one for this particular project.

Use layers to separate the elements that you want to change in the graphic. Below are our corporate templates:

NOTE: Keep in mind the company’s visual identity (logo, fonts, color code, etc). Learn more about “How to Build Social Media Branding Guidelines”.

Remember that the template’s dimensions should strictly follow Social Media Platforms’ requirements for posts:  E.g. Facebook post: 1200px x 628px; Instagram post: 1080px x 1080px.

Step 5. Define Variables in the Photoshop document.

You use variables to define which elements in the template change.

In our template, the text (variable A) and the image (variable B) changed from post to post.

There are three types of variables.

  • Visibility variables
  • Pixel Replacement variables
  • Text Replacement variables

1. Select a layer that contains the content you want to define as a variable.

E.g. The text layer contains our quote, or the image layer contains our paired stock image.

2. On Application Menu, choose Image > Variables > Define.

3. Select one or more types of variables

E.g. If we select a text layer, choose Text Replacement; if we select an image layer, choose Pixel Replacement.

4. Name or choose an existing name for the variables

E.g. Name the variable as ‘text’, same as the name of Column A in the prepared (.csv) file (E.g. Quotes – CSV).

There are three types of variables. – Visibility variables – Pixel Replacement variables – Text Replacement variables

5. For Pixel Replacement variables, set the following options.

  • Select a scaling method for the chosen image: Fit, Fill,…
  • Choose placing alignment inside the bounding box: Centre, left or right,…
  • Choose ‘Clip To Bounding Box’ to cut off areas of the image that are outside the bounding box.
  • Name the variable like Step 5. 4.

E.g. Name the variable as ‘image’, same as the name of Column B in the prepared (.csv) file (E.g. Quotes – CSV).

6. Click ‘OK’.

Step 6. Import prepared Data Set

This step will show you how to load the prepared (.csv) or (.txt) file into our current PSD document.

1. On Application Menu, choose Image > Variables > Data Sets.

2. Click Import Data Set > Select File and select the prepared (.csv) or (.txt) file (E.g. Quotes – CSV))

3. Set the encoding of the text file or leave the setting Automatic

4. Tick or not tick ‘Use the first column for Data Set Names’, depending on you. You can still change the file-naming scheme later when generating all the graphics in Step 8.

5. Tick or don’t tick ‘Replacing Existing Data Sets’, depending on you.

6. Click ‘OK’.

Step 7. Preview or apply a Data Set NOTE:

Applying a Data Set overwrites your original document.

1. Choose ‘Image’ > ‘Apply Data Set’.

2. Select the Data Set you want to apply.

3. Click ‘Apply’.

NOTE: You can also apply and preview a Data Set in the Data Set page of the Variables dialogue box.

Step 8. Generate graphics using Data Sets

After applying one or more data sets, you can output, in batch mode, images as (.psd) files.

1. Choose ‘File’ > ‘Export’ > ‘Data Sets As Files’.

2. Enter a base name for all files generated. You may create your own file-naming scheme if you want.

3. Click the ‘Select Folder’ button to select exporting files destination.

4. Choose data sets to export.

5. Click ‘OK’.

growth hacking guide to generating graphics using data sets

 

Step 9. Export (.psd) files to (.jpg) files

After generating data sets to (.psd) files, check all the elements, feel and look, following your corporate visual identity.

1. Check all export format details in File > Export > Export Preferences

growth hacking guide to exporting files

2. Choose ‘File’ > ‘Export’ > ‘Quick Export as JPG’

Still having problems?

In case you still have troubles creating multiple files from datasets (CSV files) in Photoshop, we have found a video example for you. Watch the video, “How to Create multiple Photoshop Files from a Data Set:”

This method is super easy, and very quick. Try and you will love how much time you can save.

The content doesn’t have to be the same type, it can be anything from a fact, a quote, an announcement, or Ads. All you need is a document listed your content and a paired image.

How to upload and schedule a large number of posts to Buffer with images all at once

Now comes the fun part. Have you heard of using Buffer to schedule your social media posts ahead instead of manually loading your posts day by day?

It’s another time-saving tool if you haven’t used it already.

But if you do use it, would you like to bulk upload all your prepared post, including text and images at the same time?

Frankly, it won’t be the simplest, easiest process ever, but if you have hundreds of ready-to-post posts in hand, after doing this, you will have  successfully managed your entire account feed for months.

As of August 2018, the official Buffer web application does not support bulk uploading with images (just text using a (.csv) file).

However, you can create a zap via zapier, allowing you to connect Google Sheets with Buffer and automatically feed your information (texts and images) into your Buffer queue.

Integrating two apps, apps, platforms, etc. together happens inside an automatic integration in Zapier called a ‘zap’.

NOTE: For better imagination, we will use all the prepared work from part 1 as an example, including the listed quotes in Part 1 Step 1, the generated post (.jpg) files in Part 1 Step 8.

Step 1. Gathering all needed information for the post: Description, Image and Time Scheduling

1. Create a new Google Sheet, name the worksheet as ‘Data’

2. List all the chosen quotes in Part 1 Step 1 into Column A, named the column ‘Quotes’ 3.

In Column B, give a few sentences of why or how these quotes are important, how they relate to your industry or users. Insert the relevant hashtags as they relate to your industry or the quote itself. Named the column ‘Description’.

There are plenty of sites that can help you get keyword ideas for your hashtags, below are some examples:

NOTE: Different Social Media platforms that you can post to through Buffer, has its own character limitations in place.

4. Upload all the generated post (.jpg) files in  Part 1 Step 8  to https://imgur.com/ – an online image sharing community and image host where you can find images’ direct link very easily.

5. Copy the direct links of those uploaded images

6. List down in Column C (Facebook) and D (Instagram), on the adjacent row to the relevant quotes.

Name the column ‘Image’.

7. Decide on how many times you want to post in a week and select the best hours/days of the week per platform. Some days are better to post than others.

There is ample data out there on the best times/days to post on different social media platforms (E.g. Hubspot).

Or you can also base it off of your current statistics, since separate industries are different.

Or use Buffer’s recommended time of the day to schedule your posts: Settings > Posting Schedule.

8. Choose the time and day, using Zapier DateTime format:

Tomorrow at noon

Next friday at 7pm

2/13/2014 8pm EST

2014-02-26T16:56 (standard ISO format)

1393462573 (a unix timestamp)

List it in Column E (Facebook) and F (Instagram).

Step 2. Connect Google Sheet & Buffer using Zapier.

NOTE: There are other ways of uploading in bulk you can fnd online.

E.g using a third-party tool called BulkPublish. Unfortunately, this method doesn’t work anymore.

BulkPublish was replaced by Bulk Buffer, which currently does not support bulk uploading posts with images, only text.

1. Sign up for Zapier if you haven’t already.

2. Pick ‘Buffer’ and ‘Google Sheets’ in the list of all the applications 3. Click ‘Make a Zap!’

Step 3. Set up Google Sheet in Zapier.

1. Choose ‘Google Sheets’ as your trigger app > Save & Continue

2. Choose Trigger > Save & Continue

E.g. Here we selected ‘New or Updated Spreadsheet Row’ as a trigger.

3. Connect Google Sheets with Zapier by signing in your Google Drive

4. Make a new Google worksheet, called ‘Quotes going live’ with seven columns: description with hashtags, Images (Facebook), Images (Instagram), Time Scheduling (Facebook), and Time scheduling (Instagram)

5. Copy the first row from the prepared worksheet ‘Data’ in Step 1 to the new worksheet so later the zap has some sample data to pick up.

6. Setup Google Sheets Spreadsheet Row > Continue

7. Pull in Samples > Fetch & Continue

If the test is successful, You can view your spreadsheet row to make sure everything looks OK. Zapier will use this as a sample for setting up the rest of your Zap > Continue.

Step 4. Set up Buffer in Zapier to complete the Zap. 1. Select ‘Buffer’ > Continue 2. Select Zapier Action

1. Select ‘Buffer’ > Continue

2. Select Zapier Action E.g. Here we selected ‘Add to Schedule’ > Continue.

3. Connect Buffer with Zapier by signing in to your Buffer account.

4. Set up Buffer Template > Continue

Here’s the configuration:

5. Check the post details and choose ‘Send Test to Buffer’.

You now can check in your buffer queue if everything looks.

6. Once your zap’s up and running, you can paste the rest of your data into the connected worksheet ‘Quotes going live’.

This will finally add all information to Buffer thanks to the trigger we have set.

Using this technique, you can bulk upload posts to multiple platforms, just by changing your Buffer Profile when setting up Buffer template in Step 2.

Resources: Some of the resources we relied on heavily in the process of making this E-book:

1. How to create 50 unique posts for Facebook and Instagram using a dataset.

Create data-driven graphics

Photoshop Files From Data Sets

Social Media Image Sizes: A Quick Reference Guide for Each Network

The Best Time to Post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+ [Infographic]

Character limits for each social network

How to Build Social Media Branding Guidelines That Will Make Your Brand Memorable

2. How to upload and schedule a large number of posts to Buffer with images all at once.

How to Bulk Upload And Schedule Posts to Buffer WITH IMAGES Using BulkPublish

Getting started with Bulk Buffer

The Top 10 Secret Buffer Hacks and Features

How to Automatically Generate Tweets with Images and Hashtags for Your Buffer Queue

 

This growth hacking guide was and screen shots were originally constructed by Linh Dinh

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