Top 4 apps for curating the perfect Instagram feed

Check out our September 2017 update to this list here 

I have had an interesting week researching and testing Instagram grid apps so that I can tell you all about them.  I have to admit that I have never regularly used an app to arrange my Instagram feed, I just tend to wing it!  Don’t get me wrong, I want it to look good.  I am always worried about my feed looking too cluttered, having too much white space together or using the same backgrounds two days in a row – arrghhhh!  I am forever deleting images, not because I don’t like them but because they are not playing nicely in the overall grid – maybe I should have got myself a planning and scheduling app a long time ago!  Love them or hate them, here is a roundup of four of the most popular so you can decide for yourself if this is something you want to experiment with.

Plann

Plann was the first planning app that I used and I really liked it… until I tried some other ones. None of these apps can actually post your images to Instagram as it is against Instagram’s terms and conditions.  What you can do is schedule posts for a specific time and you’ll receive a push notification telling you it’s time to post.  You can upload multiple images at a time to Plann and drag and drop to arrange your grid as you would like to see it on Instagram.  Plann does not upload your existing grid from Instagram so it’s like starting afresh.

Cost:  One off cost to download $13.99 NZD ($10.03 USD, $12.99 AUD)
*Note this is soon to be changing to a subscription model ranging from Free to AU$9 per month

Things we like about Plann   

  • Easy to use, no tutorial required!
  • Drag and drop images for easy arranging.
  • Draft captions to save time later, then copy and paste into your Instagram post.
  • Save your favourite hashtags in groups and paste into the comment field.
  • Schedule posts and receive a notification when it’s time to post.

Things to consider   

  • My biggest issue with Plann is that there is no crop feature.  If you take photos on your phone (as I often do) and upload them into Plann, you can still see the surrounding areas on the grid so it’s not a true reflection of what your image will look like in Instagram. If you’re uploading edited camera images, then this wouldn’t be a problem.
  • No editing tools.  Photos need to be edited prior to uploading, otherwise they’ll need to be edited in Instagram when you post.
  • This is just a personal one – I use Dropbox a lot and there is no option to upload from Dropbox galleries.  

In conclusion – Plann is a basic app and is extremely straight forward to use, it’s easy to upload your images and gives you a good idea of how your Instagram grid will look.  If you’re looking for something simple to get you started, or don’t want to fuss around with too many extra features, then this is the app for you!


preview

All of these apps have most of the same basic features and Preview has some nice little extras as well.  The main difference with Preview is that you can edit your images.  All the standard image editing tools are available including crop, sharpen, white/brighten etc.  Preview has a lot more tools than Plann but it is still straight forward to use.

Cost:  Free to download, $9.49NZD ($6.80USD) to use multiple account feature

Things we like about Preview   

  • Plan, schedule and repost photos with ease.
  • Save your captions and hashtags and copy into your Instagram caption field when posting.
  • Automatically load all previous grid images from Instagram.
  • A calendar feature shows posts scheduled for the day/week/month.
  • Add text, pattern overlay, and frames to images – you can pay to upgrade this but I found the free package was all I would need.
  • The Preview Instagram page has loads of information, tips and tricks about how to get the best out of this app.
  • You can upload photos from Dropbox.

Things to consider   

  • Although there is an editing feature, I found that some of the tools were not as good as the Instagram editor.  There are a lot of filters but if that is not your thing then I would probably still edit in Instagram.
  • Operating multiple Instagram accounts is an option (which is a big thumbs up) but you do have to pay for this feature.

In conclusion – A great app that does everything you need a grid app to do.  Great for personal Instagrammers who are serious about their grid appearance.  Head over to their Instagram page where you will find all the info you need to get started!


UNUM

Unum is a firm favourite with the Creatively Squared ladies.  As with Preview, it loads your last 20 Instagram images so you can build on your grid from there.  It has the standard drag and drop ability to arrange your images but it also has a rearrange feature that allows you to shuffle around numerous images at once until you have your preferred layout.  I found this one easy to use and the features were more advanced than Preview.

Cost:  Free, Free, Free - I did just read that this was designed for iPhone and iPad, I have obviously downloaded it with my android but I don't think all the features work quite as well and it is super slow.

Things we like about Unum   

  • Plan, arrange and schedule posts and get reminders sent to your phone when it is time to post.
  • Move multiple images at once, arranging your grid is super quick and easy.
  • Save captions for easy posting.
  • A cool tile option splits your image into 9 squares so you can have your favourite image front and centre in your feed.  You can also delete any white space from the image so that just the objects are displayed.
  • Great editing tools that allow you to crop and adjust brightness, saturation, shadows plus all the other must-have tools. They also provide a good selection of filters.
  • A draft feed option allows you to play around with the feed before you commit to scheduling.  If you decide that your draft grid is looking better than your main one you can swap them out!
  • Coming soon: a calendar feature that shows your planned posts.
  • You can add as many different Instagram accounts as you like at no extra charge, woohoo!
  • Temporarily delete images see what your feed looks like without them (I need this feature).

Things to consider   

  • Not too many negative things to say about this one except there is no option to select photos from the Dropbox galleries.

In conclusion – I love this one, great editing options and the tile feature is very cool.  Unum is easy to use and well-designed with the serious Instagram user I mind.  Also, the Unum Instagram account is pretty cool and worth checking out!


PLANOLY

This is the one I really like.  In fact, I got so excited about the other features that I didn’t immediately realise that it didn’t have any editing tools.  Planoly is focused on Instagram for business use, as opposed to personal use.  There are a number of upgrade options you can pay for, allowing you to add up to 10 Instagram accounts and fellow admins to contribute to the building of your perfect grids.  Planoly also has a number of features that the other apps do not have.

Cost:  Free Download upgrade packages start at $9.46 NZD ($7.00 USD) per moth and go up to $221 NZD ($159 USD)

Things we like about Planoly   

  • Easy uploading, drag and drop arrange, schedule and receive notifications to post.
  • Pay to add accounts and users so they can edit your content.
  • Great desktop option that allows you to use all the tools on your computer.
  • Track and reply to comments on your desktop.
  • It has a basic analysis tool that shows the number of likes for each photo.  Depending on your plan, you can also access data for the last week/month/year. It also shows your top five liked and commented-on images.
  • Dashboard monthly calendar shows the time you posted each day and the number of likes you received.  Great for tracking your most popular days and times.
  • Search hashtags and users and repost images straight into your own feed.
  • Design an Instagram grid and email it to others to preview, great if you’re working with clients and want them to view it before posting.
  • Very pretty Instagram page (funny that) where you will often find tips and tricks for use.
  • The free plan has all the tools a personal Instagram account would require (apart from editing).

Things to consider   

  • No editing tools, scheduling only.
  • You can’t add more than one account unless you upgrade your plan.
  • You can pre-plan your photo captions but there is no place to save hashtags so have to type these out as per usual in the caption field or comment in Instagram after the image is posted.

In conclusion – This has some great features which really appeal to me for business reasons such as the desktop option, stats and emailing preview grids.  I would actually pay to upgrade this, especially if I was running numerous Instagram accounts and had a team of people working with me (haha, maybe one day!).  The free version has all the basic tools you need but I think for the personal user either Preview or Unum are better options.


Let's get planning!

Phew! So, there you have it friends, four great options to get your Instagram grid looking top notch.  If you get stuck with any of the features there are numerous tutorials on YouTube to help get you started.  The apps themselves also have great websites, Instagram pages and blogs with endless information about how to get the best out of them.  This has certainly been a crash course for me, I hope this information helps you decide on the scheduling app that is best for you.  Happy Creating! #gridgoals

**Images via Unum Instagram

**Images via Unum Instagram