Scheduling Instagram Reels: What works and what leaves much to be desired

Social Media Today announced that Meta has launched new reels features in the Creator Studio App (which can also be used on your phone or desktop / laptop).

Among those features is the ability to schedule reels and that’s a big deal if you’re a content creator. Reels, for those who aren’t familiar, are short-form, vertical videos that appear on Facebook. They’re usually less than a minute, though Instagram has started to allow longer reels.

You’ve probably heard by now that video is the most popular form of content across social media platforms. Instagram Reels were launched about two years ago to compete with the short-form video platform Tik-Tok. Pinterest is encouraging its users to create Idea Pins (formerly known as Story Pins), which also use short-form vertical videos. And even YouTube now hosts YouTube Shorts, which are vertical videos of one minute or less.

Anyway, until recently, Instagram Reels couldn’t be scheduled in advance, though the planner in Meta’s Business Suite allowed for scheduling of Facebook and non-reels Instagram posts. And that’s kind of problematic if you’re trying to incorporate popular video material into your social media posting strategy yet have to remind yourself to post it. Or you have to make time during your busy to week to post and create at a time when the reel is likely to get the most viewers (for me that’s around 7 p.m., but your followers might be online at a different time). Or you have to make reels when you’re able to, or inspired to, and post them then and there in the hopes that the timing will work and the content will get plenty of engagement.

So being able to schedule is HUGE (!!) … but only if it works. So I tried out the new features in the Meta Creator Studio. Here’s what I found:

  • The Creator Studio isn’t super intuitive to find. To access it, you need to sign into your Facebook account and the go to business.facebook.com/creatorstudio.
  • Once there, the directions for creating a reel a pretty straight forward: Upload a video. Trim it to one minute max, and resize it if needed in the resize screen. To CAPTION your video, you need to click “back” to return to the first screen (as opposed to captioning as the last step, which is the order of operations when you post a reel directly from your Instagram app).
  • Finally, click publish to schedule your reel for a future date.

The drawbacks:

  • In the Creator Studio you, rather ironically, don’t have creative tools for your reels. No stickers, no filters, no text and no close captions. You also can’t add music or a voice over.

I found a work around to this by importing my video to the Instagram app and adding close captions there, then downloading it to my phone and re-uploading it to the Creator Studio. You can do this with EITHER captions OR music, but for some reason you can’t save and download a draft with both.

  • You can’t edit clips other than trimming the beginning or ending, and you can’t import more than one clip at a time.
  • You don’t have the option to add a location, which is especially important for those promoting and event, a brick and mortar business, or a city or neighborhood.
  • You CAN add hashtags and tag other accounts, but neither autofill from your previously used tags or your followers.
  • You can’t edit or add a cover image.

I did go ahead and schedule my post through the Creator Studio, but it’s a far from ideal system. In fact, the reel I scheduled went live on my Facebook feed but NOT on Instagram. (You had ONE JOB Creator Studio!!) If you plan to use this featuring for scheduling reels, I suggest first editing your reels in a program like Canva, Premiere Pro or Davinci Resolve so that you can colorize, add text and transitions, pull in photos and additional film clips, music, voice overs, etc.

Export your completed reel video and upload it to the Creator Studio for scheduling, if you want to try it. Though I recommend waiting for Meta to smooth out the kinks.

Another option, if you’re interested in paying for a subscription to a social media management platform, is to find a platform that includes scheduling reels. Some that have this feature include Hootsuite, Planoly, and Metricool.

More options should be popping up soon. Instagram unveiled its Reels API to all social media management platforms in July and many, like Buffer jumped at the opportunity to offer drafting, scheduling, and auto-publishing of Instagram Reels. The services are included with subscriptions.

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