It's a bit strange, but we work the same as if you hired a new staff member to look after your account.
When it’s time to post, we login to your account, post the image or video you have asked us to post, then log out again and move on to the next image/video.
We use a real world phone for this. The models we currently use are HTC Desire 730’s and some Motorola Moto E’s (many are now deprecated as they had a high death rate).
We literally go through and open the Instagram app, click the login button, type the username/password, pick the image etc. There’s a big ‘wall of phones’ in our office (see photo at the top) which does all the posting. We don’t use the private API (or any API for that matter) to post, we use the Instagram app.
The only difference between us and a staff member is that unlike a person, a computer coordinates the clicking and typing (no, we don’t have some kind of slave army of people on phones).
But otherwise, it’s the official latest version of the Instagram app on a physical phone.
The only strange part is that it does mean that posts can see a 3-5 minute delay from the time you schedule them to when they are posted – this is because that's as quick as you can post something in the app (try it yourself…). For most customers this makes no difference, but if the time is very particular, just schedule it a few minutes before you want it live.
Why do we do this?
We use phones so that your posts can be automatically posted for you at the time you choose, and so that we can offer you the latest Instagram features.
Our customers have told us that features like hashtags in first comment, product tagging, video scheduling, story scheduling and more are vital to their Instagram success, and this is (weirdly!) the best way to accomplish it.
A lot of other applications either just send you push notifications (not really helping much with the time saving you could get!), reverse engineer the Instagram API (legality is a little grey for our liking, and it's against Instagram's terms of service), or use the Instagram API (very limited in features).
The downside – we need a password
But there is a downside – we need your password to post, just like a new staff member (or hiring an agency) would.
Of course, we use a range of methods to protect your password – we've seen situations where social media passwords are kept in things like Google Docs or in an unprotected Excel sheet on a shared drive, and we do a lot more than that to keep your password as safe as possible.
It’s worth keeping in mind that the most likely way someone will manage to get into your Instagram account will be through guessing the password if it is obvious. As we’ve written in the past, having a secure password is vital, and certainly don’t make it something like ‘Account123’ or ‘password’.
Using us also means that you potentially don’t have to share your password with anyone else to post for you (internally or otherwise) – you can to share access with other team members, who get their own individual logins and never see the actual Instagram password itself. We include unlimited free 'collaborator' accounts for exactly this reason.
So it’s a bit of a double edged sword – no matter which way you look at it, you need to share it with someone.