How to post to Instagram using API

Written by Melissa Evans

Building apps that publish content to Instagram is possible with either Facebook Instagram API (if you have access) or with Concrete Social which accessible to everyone. In this article, we will discuss how the process works and what is expected of both developers and end users.

How to post to Instagram using API

To better understand the current situation with what’s possible with Instagram and Facebook API it is important to understand how we got here.

2012-2016 - Instagram API

As an independent company, Instagram had developed, maintained and evolved its own API, known as Instagram API. This API is still around today although in a much more limited form. Their API was quite promising with lots of features around profile, media, and followership. The one big feature they never had was content publishing. At the time, their main argument was the need to maintain their ecosystem free of any ads and banners.

After Instagram was acquired by Facebook, Instagram and Facebook must have had a conversation on the need to maintain 2 separate APIs.

2017 - Instagram Business and Facebook Instagram API

In 2017 they came out with a brand new concept - an Instagram Business Profile and offered API for it. In short - Instagram Business profile is your regular Instagram Profile that is connected to a Facebook page. That’s all that is. Fancy name for a simple linkage between the two. Now, however, that this link was in place, it made it possible for Facebook to offer Instagram Graph API - very minimal set of features at the time but now all under Facebook Graph API. The migration had started! By late 2017 Instagram started to announce multiple deprecations across its native API.

2018 Content Publishing of images and videos

In early 2018 something remarkable happened. Facebook finally made content publishing available for Instagram. To start they allowed single photo posts. Since this was so new, this feature was in beta and only shared with Facebook Marketing Partners. At the time it was already quite difficult to become one but at least - there was a way to submit an application.

In March 2018 - Cambridge Analytica scandal broke and Facebook went into a crisis mode for several months, freezing all app approvals and most importantly completely suspending the process of accepting new Marketing Partners. What this basically meant for all those tools wishing to publish to Instagram is that now there was no path towards access to this feature.

In December 2018 - Facebook added the ability to publish videos to Instagram as well. Hopefully, Stories are going to be possible soon!

So what does this all mean to you?

If you are looking to build an app that offers users to publish to Instagram - you really don’t have that many options:

  • Try to become a Facebook marketing partner
  • Consider using 3rd party social media management platform like Hootsuite. You would need to find something that offers white labeling.
  • Consider using Concrete Social Instagram Publishing API.

Regardless of the path you choose, you would also need to consider that you can only offer direct publishing to business profiles. This means that your users will need to convert their personal Instagram profiles to business. Not a huge deal but this won’t work otherwise.