Instagram Tools: 20 Essential Apps for Growing Your Following on Instagram

instagram tools

Instagram is more than just a casual pastime: It’s a powerful marketing platform for business owners everywhere.

With over half a billion daily active users, Instagram has opened up huge opportunities for brands to find new customers and get their products seen. Tactics like running Instagram ads and reaching out to influencers are effective, but without the right tools, it can be tough to get the results that you want.

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To help you turbocharge your Instagram account, we’ve put together a top-notch toolkit of Instagram-related apps that will set your business apart and drive more customers to your online store.

The Best Instagram Tools in 2019

  1. VSCO
  2. Snapseed
  3. Afterlight 2
  4. Canva
  5. Photoshop Express
  6. Repost for Instagram
  7. PicFlow
  8. Shopping on Instagram
  9. Instagram Shoppable Feed
  10. Sprout Social
  11. Iconosquare
  12. Websta
  13. Real-Time Customer Intelligence
  14. Schedugram
  15. Later
  16. Hootsuite
  17. Buffer
  18. Autohash
  19. Display Purposes
  20. Focalmark

Let’s get into it.

One of the most important parts of having an effective Instagram presence is loading your feed with stunning visuals that clearly communicate your brand’s identity and the value of your products. But if you don’t have a fancy camera or professional training, taking great photos might seem out of reach.

Even if you aren’t a professional photographer, you can still create great Instagram content with just your smartphone and a few key apps.


Great for: Content creation
Cost: Free

Instagram tools: VSCO
Image credit: VSCO

It’s been a while since Instagram’s default filters were the bleeding edge of mobile photo editing, and in the meantime, VSCO has emerged as the reigning champ of creating beautiful photos on-the-go. Part photo editing platform and part social media network, VSCO should be at the heart of every Instagram strategy.

VSCO has an in-depth editing suite and a slew of high quality default filters that can take your smartphone photos to a completely new level. There’s also a huge library of filters available for purchase, giving you endless potential for customizing your photos and setting them apart from the pack.

VSCO is available for iOS and Android.

2. Snapseed

Great for: Content creation
Cost: Free

Instagram tools: Snapseed
Image credit: Snapseed

Snapseed is another photo editing app that gives you the option to fine-tune your photos. While Instagram’s default filters edit your entire image at once, Snapseed lets you apply your effects with a brush so that you can perfect the details of each photo.

Snapseed’s Stacks are another great feature, letting you save groups of filters as a template. These Stacks can then be applied to future photos, giving your entire feed a consistent look and saving you time.

Snapseed is available for iOS and Android.

3. Afterlight 2

Great for: Content creation
Cost: $2.99

Instagram tools: Afterlight 2
Image credit: Afterlight

Afterlight 2 is a photo editing app that boasts a default set of dozens of filters, textures, and frames, giving you tons of different options for tweaking your photos right off the bat. You can also create and save your very own filters, and work with multiple image formats in the app. It includes typography tools as well to help your images stand out.

With its sleek and straightforward design, Afterlight is an easy-to-use, must-have tool for making your Instagram photos pop.

Afterlight 2 is available for iOS, while the previous version (Afterlight) is available for Android.

4. Canva

Great for: Content creation
Cost: Free

Instagram tools: Canva
Image Credit: Canva

Canva is an app that you can use to create images that stand out, whether it’s in your Instagram feed or in your stories. You can superimpose text, create multi-image layouts, and pull in a wide range of graphics to level up your posts and get your followers’ attention.

It’s especially useful to create stories that stand out, and if you stick to a few consistent image formats and fonts on Canva, you can start to make sure your followers always recognize your content.

Canva is available for iOS and Android, and you can use it on the web as well.

5. Photoshop Express

Great for: Content creation
Price: Free

Instagram tools: Photoshop Express
Image credit: Photoshop

That’s right, you can use Photoshop on your phone.

While the mobile app for Android and iOS doesn’t come with every feature of the desktop app, it does offer a powerful image editing experience that gives you a lot of control over your photos. They’ve streamlined the work you’d do on your computer into handy tools, like blemish removal, which can remove spots, dirt and dust from your photo with a single touch.

You’ve also got access to multiple controls, filters, presets and options you wouldn’t get elsewhere, like the ability to add a watermark to your photos.

Photoshop Express is available for iOS and Android.

6. Repost for Instagram

Great for: Content curation
Price: Free

Instagram tools: Repost
Image credit: Repost

You don’t always need to be the person behind the lens taking the photos. If you have a community of customers who post user-generated content (UGC) you can use Repost to curate their images, and give them credit at the same time.

To share an image from someone else’s Instagram account on your own, just copy the Share URL on the post you want to share, and open Repost on your phone. It’ll add a credit icon to the image, copy the description, and have you ready to post to your account in seconds.

Repost is available for iOS and Android.

7. PicFlow

Great for: Content creation
Price: Free with in-app purchases

Instagram tools: PicFlow
Image credit: PicFlow

If you want to add more video to your feed, but you don’t feel up to shooting something, PicFlow can help. It creates 15-second slideshows using your photos, and you can add and edit the audio directly in the app. You can even control the timing of the slideshow, and you could create some really interesting visual effects by mixing in images editing with other apps on this list.

PicFlow is free to use for iOS and Android, but if you want to remove the watermark, or unlock extra transitions, you can upgrade within the app.

Want to learn more about taking great product photos? Grow your photography skills with these comprehensive resources:


This has probably happened to you: you’re scrolling through Instagram, a shot of someone’s outfit catches your eye and you wish you could buy everything that they’re wearing instantly.

While that might sound like a pipedream, it’s actually possible. With the right tools, you can transform your Instagram feed into a full shopping experience, letting your customers buy everything that they see and helping them get a better idea of how your products look and feel in real life.

And while you might already be using apps that provide handy workarounds to make your Instagram account a viable sales channel, we’ve got something that you’ll want to check out.

8. Shopping on Instagram

Great for: Selling more
Price: Free for Shopify merchants

With the Shopping on Instagram sales channel, Shopify merchants in multiple countries can now tag products in their posts and stories and let users complete the entire buyer journey—from discovery to checkout—without leaving the Instagram app.

To start using Shopping on Instagram, you’ll need to:

  • Be located in one of the eligible countries (US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, or Brazil)
  • Have the Facebook channel installed in your Shopify store with an approved Facebook Shop
  • Have an Instagram Business account

All you have to do is add the Instagram sales channel to your Shopify store to enable product tagging on your Instagram posts and stories at no additional cost.

Start selling on Instagram

9. Instagram Shoppable Feed (Shopify App)

Great for: Selling more
Price: $4.99/month (with 7-day free trial)

Your Instagram photos aren’t just a great way to engage potential customers on social media. They can also show your website visitors how your products look in context, or how they can work together. With Instagram Shoppable Feed, you can easily add your Instagram photos to your store, and tag the products featured in each image.

Hot Shapers uses Instagram Shoppable Feed to showcase their Instagram photos on their homepage.

Instagram tools: Shoppable feed
Image credit: Hot Shapers

Their feed is product-focused and on-brand, so it helps their potential customers see the products in action. Not only that, when they click on an image, they see the featured product’s price, and a link to buy it.

Instagram tools: Shoppable Feed Examples
Image credit: Hot Shapers

A successful marketing campaign on Instagram doesn’t end with sharing a photo. Diving deep into Instagram analytics is crucial for getting the most out of your business’ marketing strategy. You need to be able to analyze and refine your store’s performance every step of the way.

If you have a Business Account on Instagram, you’ll be able to see analytics including how many people have viewed your profile, which days get the most impressions, demographic breakdowns of your followers and more. If you want to go deeper, however, there are tools that can help you get the detailed data you crave.

10. Sprout Social

Great for: Analytics
Cost: $99 - $249/mo per user

Instagram tools: Sprout Social
Image credit: Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a social media management platform with extensive content scheduling and publishing tools. Sprout Social also offers in-depth Instagram analytics, giving you access to detailed reports about how your latest posts have been performing.

With Sprout Social’s analytics, you’ll be able to track engagement and compare the success of your store’s account against the success of other accounts that you manage.

Additionally, Sprout Social has tools for monitoring hashtags and comments, helping you keep your fingers on the pulse of your community and find new opportunities for engagement.

11. Iconosquare

Great for: Analytics
Cost: $7-$59/mo (billed annually)

Instagram tools: Iconosquare
Image credit: Iconosquare

Iconosquare is an analytics platform dedicated to digging deep into the performance of your content on Instagram.

With Iconosquare, you can track regular engagement data like followers and likes as well as get specific statistics about your followers including their location and level of social media influence. By identifying your most influential fans, you’ll be able to discover new opportunities for influencer marketing and outreach.

Iconosquare also gives you the chance to compare your performance against your competitors, helping you get a better idea of where you fit into your industry landscape.

12. Websta

Great for: Analytics
Cost: Free

Instagram tools: Websta
Image credit: Websta

Websta is a free tool for managing your Instagram account and getting easy-to-understand analytics about your engagement and growth.

Websta also aggregates every hashtag on Instagram. This handy feature lets you search through all of Instagram to track down the best performing hashtags in your target audience. You can also get recommendations for hashtags that are related to the ones that you already use to help you branch out and find new audiences.

13. Real-Time Customer Intelligence (Shopify App)

Great for: Follower analysis
Price: Free, with paid plans starting at $19/mo

Instagram tools: Real-time Customer Intelligence
Image credit: UserGems

Have you ever wondered if any of your customers might be A Big Deal on social media? With Real-Time Customer Intelligence, you can find out. This Shopify app pulls in social media information about your customers, so you can sort it to find exactly who you’re looking for.

You can use it to identify which of your customers have over 10,000 Instagram followers, or which ones use the word “blogger” or “journalist” in their social media profiles, to help build out an influencer campaign. You can also look through the profiles of all of your customers if you’re working on a targeted user-generated content campaign.

Real-Time Customer Intelligence is free for under 100 customers a month, and paid plans start at $19 a month for under 250 customers.

Instagram tools: posting on a schedule
Image credit: Burst.

To grow your audience and give your current fans a reason to stick around, you need to be updating your Instagram with fresh content regularly. But, let’s face it, constantly updating your profile with new photos takes a lot of time—something most entrepreneurs are already short on.

Thankfully, there are a bunch of great platforms out there that give you the resources you need to schedule your posts in advance and keep your profile well-stocked with great content. Many of these tools also let you post to Instagram from your computer so you don’t need to rely solely on Instagram’s mobile app.

14. Schedugram

Great for: Scheduling
Cost: $20 - $100/mo (depending on follower count)

Instagram tools: Schedugram
Image credit: Schedugram

Schedugram is a scheduling platform with a wide variety of features, including web browser-based scheduling, for running more effective campaigns.

In addition to browser-based scheduling, Schedugram also comes with extensive photo editing features. Using its built-in image editing, you can tweak and fine-tune your photos well beyond Instagram’s default filters. Schedugram also allows for mass uploading, letting you schedule batches of photos at once and shaving time off of your social media marketing efforts.

Schedugram is priced on a sliding scale starting at $20/month, depending on your number of accounts and total Instagram followers.

15. Later

Great for: Scheduling
Cost: Free, with premium plans starting at $9/mo

Instagram tools: Later
Image credit: Later

Later, formerly known as Latergramme, is an intuitive mobile, tablet, and browser-based Instagram scheduling platform.

Later comes with a diverse set of features for planning out your campaigns including the ability to explore hashtags and share user generated content. Later lets you organize your posts with a handy content calendar and get a preview of your Instagram feed before publishing, making it simple to visualize exactly how your strategy will unfold.

Later also offers Saved Captions, which is handy when planning and implementing your hashtag strategy for Instagram. Save related groups of hashtags together, so you never need to type them out again.

16. Hootsuite

Great for: Scheduling
Cost: Free, with Pro Plans starting at $19/mo

Instagram tools: Hootsuite
Image credit: Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a powerful social media management platform that can schedule and publish Instagram posts.

While Hootsuite has made a name for itself by streamlining marketing for platforms like Facebook and Twitter, its Instagram tools take social media management one step further. Hootsuite lets you schedule your Instagram posts in advance, and either notifies you to post with a push notification, or posts automatically for you if you have an Instagram Business account.

17. Buffer

Great for: Scheduling
Cost: Free, with paid plans starting at $10/mo

Instagram tools: Buffer
Image credit: Buffer

You probably know Buffer as a great tool to schedule your social media posts for Twitter and Facebook, but you can also use it to schedule your Instagram posts ahead of time.

You can prepare your posts from mobile or desktop, set everything up ahead of time, and Buffer can post directly to Instagram for you. Like all other direct publishing tools, you can only automate single-image posts, and only to Instagram Business Accounts, but you can still schedule and plan out your videos and multi-image posts.

If you’re on a paid plan, you’ll also get insights into key metrics for your Instagram account, directly within Buffer.

You’re almost ready to hit post, but to help grow your following and connect with more people, you’re going to want to use some hashtags. Luckily, you don’t need to guess at which hashtags will do well on your images or videos anymore—there are apps for that.

18. Autohash

Great for: Finding hashtags
Price: Free, with in-app purchases

Instagram tools: Autohash
Image credit: Autohash

Autohash might be the easiest way to find relevant hashtags for your images. It uses AI to recognize the objects in your photos, and provides you with relevant hashtags based on the objects. It will count the hashtags for you, so you don’t go over the 30-hashtag limit, and you can save your favorite hashtags in the app.

Once you’re ready to post, Autohash will save your selected hashtags to your clipboard, so all you have to do is paste them into your image description or the comments on your image.

Autohash is available on Android.

19. Display Purposes

Great for: Finding hashtags
Price: Free

Instagram tools: Display Purposes
Image credit: Display Purposes

Display Purposes is a web-based tool that gives you a bit more control over the hashtags you select for your post. You start with a keyword or an existing hashtag, and it will recommend additional hashtags to use on your image. You can scale up or down the number of hashtags you want to include, and Display Purposes will fill in your hashtags accordingly. If you want to DIY, you can also switch to manual selection, and choose from a list that displays each hashtag’s relevance and popularity.

20. Focalmark

Great for: Finding hashtags
Price: Free, with in-app purchases

Instagram tools: FocalMark
Image credit: Focalmark

Focalmark is an app that selects hashtags for your image based on three key factors: the subject of your photo, the location of the photo, and the camera you used to take the photo. You simply select an option for each of the three inputs, and Focalmark generates a list of the most popular hashtags relevant to your image.

You can adjust how many hashtags you want to use with a simple slider, and copy them to your clipboard in the app. If you don’t like the order of the hashtags, there’s also a handy shuffle button to reorder them in your caption.

Focalmark is available for iOS and Android.

Start Shooting

Now that you have the right tools for the job, it’s time to get out there and start taking amazing photos that really show the true value of your products!

Have any more questions about Instagram marketing? Let us know in the comments below!