Developed in three months and launched this week, Schedugram enables people to schedule posts on Instagram and manage multiple accounts, a feat Instagram has steadfastly blocked by refusing to open up their API.
Instagram describes their resistance to opening up their API as an experience and quality control measure.
“We want to fight spam and low quality photos. Once we allow uploading from other sources, it’s harder to control what comes into the ecosystem,” Instagram’s blog reads.
Schedugram co-founder and chief executive Hugh Stephens says not enabling scheduling was a significant bug bear for almost every Instagram-using small business he knew, so they decided to find a way to make it possible.
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To do so, they had to completely bypass the Instagram API. They created software that runs on the device rather than the social media platform, and automates the signing in, posting and signing out that was eating up hours for heavy Instagram users.
“Working in the social media space, we know it’s very frustrating for brands because they couldn’t access basic functionalities that allow companies to effectively use the platform,” Stephens says.
Launched last week with a subscription model, over 50 clients with a total of just over 120 Instagram accounts are using the service.
Schedugram includes a couple of measures to ensure brands don’t misuse the service and spam their followers, such as a cap of four posts an hour.
As they’re working directly against the wishes of Instagram, who closed their API after a deluge of spam, Stephen says they’ve invested a lot of time in assessing a range of possible responses from Instagram.
“As we’re working around the API rather than with it, there is a lower negligible risk in terms of Instagram getting shirty about it,” Stephens says.
“We aren’t revealing which brands are using us, because it is a risk that Instagram may block them. But in the next year or so, Instagram will be launching their advertising platform, so we think it’s unlikely they’d want to antagonize brands willing to invest in using their platform.”
A similar idea forms the core of Schedugram’s exit plans, which include selling to Instagram or other social media scheduling softwares such as Hootsuite.
“We are growing every day, and while we’re going to do that slowly, in a few months we’ll have a lot of brands who are willing to invest cash into Instagram and that would make us a logical acquisition for them,” Stephens says.
Another key risk is if Instagram re-opens their API, causing a spate of new scheduling start-ups to launch, potentially making Schedugram redundant before they’ve recovered costs or reached profitability.
“We’ve invested a lot in this software, all our own capital, and we’d lose that if they opened it soon. We don’t think it’s likely. From conversations we’ve had and media coverage, we know it’s not a primary interest of theirs right now,” Stephens says.