Sked Social posts are sent to Instagram as quickly as we can, but they are not immediately posted on Instagram. The reason behind this is how we work: your post isn't sent via a web-service or API like you would when publishing to Twitter or Facebook, instead it is posted using a physical tablet or phone, running the Instagram app.
If you try on your own phone or tablet, what is the absolute fastest that you can open the Instagram app, login, select the photo, type the text and click upload?
It's quite a long time – we obviously use a computer to automate this as much as possible, but each image generally takes between 60 and 90 seconds to upload (and a bit longer for video). There is variation between different Instagram accounts as well (in how long it takes, or whether we need to retry images multiple times to get them up).
We don't have a one-to-one ratio of devices to accounts that we manage. If we did, the service would be 10-20 times more expensive – due to the cost of having to buy, prepare and install devices for every account that you add. As a result, we use a queue system.
To simplify it a little bit, let's imagine you have one tablet. That one tablet can obviously only post one image or video at a time. Let's say that this tablet manages 10 Instagram accounts. If all 10 of those accounts have an image scheduled for 9am, they will be queued.
The order in the queue is random – they were all scheduled for 9am – but the tablet takes the first one from the queue, posts it, then takes the next one and so on. So as a result, the last image in this example would appear as posted on Instagram at 9:10am to 9:15am.
If you are seeing posts queued for a long period, there might be something going on, so don't let that stop you from reaching out to us – rarely, our monitoring might not have picked up an issue, or your Instagram account might be having issues.
Most commonly, your posts will be needing several retries to post – if a post fails for some reasons (e.g. device errors, which might be the device or might be your post, or upload errors, which is when Instagram doesn't let us upload the post) it will get re-queued, and will go back to the bottom of the queue again.
We try and minimise delays as much as possible, and we do track the results quite closely (scheduled-vs-actual posting times).
The average time is typically 3-5 minutes for each post, so it does depend on where your account appears in the queue, and how many other customers are scheduling images/videos to go up at the same time.
Tip: The top of the hour, especially in the evening are the busiest times as most users default to X:00 timing on posts. Setting your posts for X:55 (5 minutes ahead of the top of the hour) will bring you ahead of any queueing and result in a shorter time difference between scheduled and posted time.