Being a social media manager means that I manage a variety of accounts across a few different platforms. Instagram is by far the most complicated when it comes to finding efficient ways to create and publish content thanks to their very limited API. Most tools that you can use to schedule Instagram posts require you to manually publish the post at the scheduled time because they cannot use the Instagram API to do it automatically, like Facebook and Twitter allow. When you are managing only one account that isn’t the end of the world. When you are managing far more than that it can get tricky. Like seriously never being able to be without your phone or service.

So naturally, I am always looking for tools to help me make sure all of the accounts I manage are performing at their best and allow me to put down my phone throughout the day without the fear I will miss posting something. I started looking and discovered Schedugr.am and Grum. Both of these tools posted automatically and I was excited but had no idea how this didn’t violate the Instagram Terms of Use, so I started asking questions. This is what I learned:

First, I asked Schedugr.am – “What’s the deal?”

My first email to Schedugr.am asked them about how this all works without the API – “From my understanding, it is against Instagram TOS to have an app publish content to your profile without the user hitting publish. Is this a feature that Schedugr.am offers? To have the ability to schedule and it will post automatically for you at that time, is this authorized?”

A representative for Schedugr.am named Spiros responded:

“We don’t believe our service is against Instagram’s terms of service. There are arguments about whether the terms allow anyone to use the login credentials of another user – regardless of whether they have consented – however our interpretation (disclaimer we’re not lawyers) is that this is obviously about people hacking accounts, not people consenting to the use of their credentials, or agencies would be unable to use Instagram as they are third parties!

Instagram is explicit that you cannot use their so-called “private API”, which we don’t use.

Our customers range from small businesses and agencies through to global brands. Regarding the risk of clients having issues with Instagram, my recommendation is that you be careful about Instagram’s community guidelines – that is what will get you in trouble. We have our own interpretation of these guidelines as well, which we enforce. Obviously though the decision about what is risky and what is not is individualised to the customer – we talk about that a bit more in the above article.

And for 3 years providing our services and still growing, that alone is a testament :)”

So what does this mean? I looked into how they avoid using the API and they literally have a wall of phones that use the native Instagram app to publish your posts (and the first comment if you like to put your hashtags there). It’s pretty nuts but does completely avoid using the Instagram API to post your content. Now that I knew a bit more about how that worked I wanted to ask Facebook directly and find out more about the Terms of Use.

“If you provide your login credentials to anyone other than yourself, it is not a policy violation.”

I reached out to Facebook to let them know they do not use the API, but I wanted to make sure this was not a violation for another reason. I had heard it might be a violation to share your login information with others and I wanted to make sure that was not the case before I signed up for anything. The first response I got appeared to be trying not to have to answer the question directly:

“Since these are both 3rd party applications, I cannot speak to them as far as if they are abiding by policies and procedures. You can reach out to the 3rd parties to find out more information, but I can’t provide the necessary support or advice for those applications.” – Facebook Representative

I responded again and clarified my questions a bit and express my concern about how challenging I was finding it to make sure I am in compliance with their Terms of Use. After that, this was the second response:

“As simply as I can put it for you, if you provide your login credentials to anyone other than yourself, it is not a policy violation. However,  it is provided at your discretion, which means that you are liable for any action taken under your Ad Account login, positive or negative. I hope this provides clarification.” – Facebook Representative

This was confusing because I wasn’t talking about Ad Accounts. So I responded with “That helps, but you said that I am “liable for any action taken under your Ad Account login”, but I am referring specifically to Instagram. Is that still the case? Thank you.” He followed up to tell me:

“If you provide your login information to a 3rd party, whether it be Instagram or Facebook, what actions taken are purely at your discretion.” – Facebook Representative

Conclusion?

First, in my opinion, this should not have been this hard to figure out. Instagram knows that businesses use their platform and acknowledged it when they introduced business accounts. It was frustrating that it was such a runaround. With that said, it does not appear to be any real violation to use a service like Schedugr.am. I didn’t dig as deep into Grum because I didn’t love the platform as much but I believe they have a similar process as Schedugr.am and do not use the Instagram API. For me, this seemed satisfactory enough to go ahead and use the platforms, though I didn’t start using Schedugr.am until this week because I was already in the middle of dealing with the Instagram hashtag issues and I was trying to get through that first. So, in conclusion, I would say it’s not in direct violation of the Instagram Terms of Use to use Schedugr.am which is great to know, but that doesn’t mean Instagram won’t still penalize you. I am learning that the more we learn about Instagram, the faster it changes and the more we have to adapt. Get ready, this is going to be a bit of a ride!

This post contains my affiliate link for Schedugram in case you decide it’s something you want to try. When you sign up using my link you get a $5 credit. It’s new to me but I am enjoying it so far!