Instagram is quickly emerging as the most important social media platform around today. Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter may be dominating the headlines, but Instagram is pulling ahead of the rest for its focus on visuals. It’s also garnered the interest of marketers, largely thanks to its focus on flashy photography and punchy imagery. According to a report by Smart Insights, Instagram has an estimated 600 million active users worldwide –for clarity, that’s twice as many as rival photography platform Snapchat and almost double that of Twitter.

Despite that huge potential audience, Instagram isn’t perfect – especially if you’re a marketer or influencer on the platform. Hopper, a UK-based startup, is on a mission to fix this.

Hopper is the world’s first fully automated Instagram scheduler. If you manage one or more Instagram accounts, you’ll appreciate just how revelatory this is. Hopper claims its ability to schedule posts in advance can save users 30 hours every month. It even pledges to “give social media professionals their evenings and weekends back”.

Getting your Insta game back on top

Mike Bandar, who co-founded the startup in 2015, explains that he and his business partner James Vardy wanted to create a platform to help brands and influencers manage their social media accounts effectively.

“In 2015, Hopper was spun out as an independent company with its own mission – to help people, companies and brands market and engage better with their audiences,” states Bandar. “Scheduling for social media is widely used across other platforms. However, there wasn’t an offering for Instagram scheduling.”

There are already social media management tools on the scene, such as Hootsuite and Buffer, but Bandar found they lacked a sophisticated scheduler for one of the fastest-growing social media platforms around.

“We consistently heard that the lack of scheduling for Instagram was a main pain point”

“We consistently heard that the lack of scheduling for Instagram was a main pain point for users, and knew both firsthand and through conversations with many brands on Instagram that the lack of scheduling for Instagram was a huge time drain. Others cited it as one of the main reasons they had reluctantly avoided the platform despite its growing popularity.”

Social media scheduling services are everywhere, and many do, in fact, contain rudimentary Instagram scheduling services. However, Bandar believes that Hopper is the first fully automated service that works in line with Instagram’s posting terms of service.

“Although other large scheduling tools do now provide scheduling for Instagram, this remains as a ‘reminder service’, where users are sent a notification on their phone for them to post manually,” he tells me when I question him about Hopper’s selling point.

“Hopper’s current exclusive focus on Instagram has enabled us to develop the tool to provide deep and specific value for marketers on Instagram. This enables brands to fully utilise Instagram rather than use it as a bolt-on service where marketers are encouraged to share similar communication across platforms despite being consumed in different ways.”

An automated social media intern

Hopper has trained its focus predominantly at brands, agencies and individuals who want to improve their social media presence. Because of this, it offers up far more than just automatic scheduling. Its advanced editing tools and draft post capabilities are a boon for users, allowing for a more consistent Instagram presence to be easily maintained.

“Hopper users are able to utilise our simple yet powerful web and mobile apps to create and plan their content in advance. They can manage multiple accounts from one Hopper login, upload images and videos either individually or in bulk, schedule captions and first comments or save to drafts to complete later,” says Bandar.

Hopper users can also view their Instagram feed schedule in a variety of ways to help plan the best approach for maximum impact. If a regular calendar view doesn’t do it for you, there’s also a grid view and a queue view to help you visualise things better. Once you’re ready to go, Hopper takes over and posts automatically to your page.

“Hopper’s automated system accesses Instagram on your behalf via secured servers, just as a social media intern would. As a result, Hopper remains fully in line with Instagram’s terms of service and doesn’t utilise their private posting API.”

Maximising Instagram Likes

Hopper’s core focus is helping users save time, enabling them to publish higher-quality content on Instagram. “We’ve already saved users more than 35,000 hours in their year. Based on typical use, as extrapolated using internal data, the platform can save an agency 30 hours in posting time every single month. That time that can be spent better engaging with users on the platform.

“As well as time-saving, Hopper enables brands to take a more holistic view of their Instagram, ensuring content and feeds remain consistent and engaging. We also share insights and best practice through our blog and weekly ‘Trending’ newsletter.”

“We’ve already saved users more than 35,000 hours in their year”

Hopper may still be relatively young by scheduling tool standards, but it’s certainly made its mark on the industry. It’s already being used by thousands of people in more than 55 countries.

“Hopper is now used by some of the world’s largest brands and agencies,” explains Bandar rather proudly. “As a bootstrapped business, we’re proud to have reached profitability. However, we’re reinvesting all profits for growth.”

“We believe we’ve carved out several specialisms and core areas that are important to us as a business, namely helping to improve visual communication while providing a fantastic-value product with excellent customer service.”

Hopper’s #content plan for the future

Bandar and his team are constantly thinking of what comes next in the Hopper journey. While Instagram will always be the main focus, the company wants to help brands improve their visual communication in general.

“As a team, we love communication, especially social and visual communication,” says Bandar. “Instagram scheduling will remain at its core for the near future, but Hopper is increasingly focusing on helping brands be excellent at visual communication – be that through content best practice, creative assistance, editing tools or activation aids like scheduling, we’re dedicated to keep working with our ever-growing users to help improve the visual communication and the value that it brings.”

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