29/06/17 // Written by Emma Phillips

5 Basic (and free!) Tools for Instagram You Should be Using

Alexa Cobbold is Digital Creative Strategist at Ingenuity Digital. She works with Instagram both to develop and maintain relationships with top lifestyle influencers, for social / outreach campaigns and on her personal blog and Instagram profile.

In this post, she shares with us top tips and tools for Instagram.

Instagram is one of my most favourite forms of social media, and whether you’re utilising it as part of a business or you’re simply interested in improving the way your personal account performs there are plenty of great free tools that you can use to give you and your followers a much more enjoyable Insta-experience. Don’t worry if you’re not too tech-savvy either, the tools and apps on this list are super easy to navigate and can actually be a lot of fun to use too.

1.   Planoly

Ever wondered how all those Instagram influencers seemingly manage to get their squares to fit in with the others so perfectly every time? Well, it’s no fluke. Apps such as Planoly help you to, well…plan! You can test out how well each image slots in with those next to it before you have even hit the upload button on your Instagram account and can even schedule the image in for posting, whether you want it live later that day or even later that month – though as of yet, the app does not post automatically for you.

It allows you to plan out what caption to add in and even counts out how many hashtags you have left to use out of the golden thirty, which if you’re anything like me will save you a whole bunch of stress and time in trying to get your thirty planned out and ready to post as soon as you’ve uploaded your image.

The basic package is free and is great if you’re wanting to test the waters, but you can upgrade for as little as $7 per month to a better package.

Alternative options include: ScheduGram (perfect if you’re running more than one Instagram account) and Hootsuite


We all know they’re out there, those Instagram accounts who follow you to encourage you to follow back, only for them to unfollow you pretty swiftly afterwards in a bid to grow their own following on social media. Yes, it’s extremely annoying, but there are tools which help to give you a little more visibility on such shady behaviour. Followers for Instagram is one such app, analysing your following and allowing you to manage your “community” on Instagram in a way that works for you.

Aside from tracking your following (both positively and negatively), the app provides useful analytics into the popularity of your posts and even allows you to see if you’ve been blocked by certain accounts or not too.

Alternative options include: InstaFollow or Statusbrew

3.   Boomerang

Fancy creating content with a little more depth? Well, Boomerang app may be the answer. This really simple app is absolutely free and allows you to create fun videos that play on loop back and forth. Whilst it may be slightly gimmicky, these mini-videos can provide a welcome break from the square after square of still images for your followers, especially if they’re done right. It’s worth spending some time practising with this app as timing is key, but the results will be well worth it!

Alternative options include: LoopVid or the new DSCO by VSCO app

4.   Websta.Me

First things first, yes, there are much more complex and in-depth alternatives to this tool (see alternative options at the end of this section) but Websta is a fantastic first step into the world of Instagram analytics – and best of all, it’s free! If you’re at the stage of your Instagram journey where you’re trying to get your head around the tool as a whole, then this is a great place to start. Websta allows you to view everything from the engagement rate on your past 20 posts to which hashtags or time of day for posting has worked best for you.

If you work in Digital Marketing, SEO or the like, or even if you’re a brand who is interested in seeing how your competitors are utilising and performing on Instagram, then this tool can certainly help you to realise this information in a clear and concise way. It even has a section for top hashtags, which is perfect when planning in content calendars for social too.

Alternative options include: Simply Measured, Locowise or Quintly

5.   VSCO

The first rule of Instagram? Never ever use their filters. Sure, they’ll do the job, but if you’re serious about improving your Instagram game, then steer clear of the filters if you can help it. So what is the alternative?

VSCO is probably one of my favourite apps to use as it allows you to edit your images while you’re out and about on your phone without the need for the Adobe Suite. The initial download is free, but I recommend investing in some of the filter packs (some do get released for free from time to time) – my favourites are the Limited Edition Collection, The Aesthetic Series, The Alchemy Collection and the Chromatic Collection due to the gorgeous colours and hues that they add to your images, but to be honest, it’s worth downloading a few and having a play around and finding the one’s that work best for you and the voice you want to give to your brand, be it on a personal or on a business level.

The more familiar you become with this app, the more it will work for you, so don’t be afraid to play around with brightness, shadows and tones either – trust me, it’ll be worth it!

Alternative options include: Snapseed, or Afterlight

If you are interested in managing social campaigns or creative outreach, get in touch with us today!