Does Instagram Approve or Endorse Any Third Party Apps?
Instagram has a hazy relationship with third party apps. On the one hand, they have an API that developers can access, and a whole mess of developer documentation in their help center. On the other hand, until very recently, they haven’t allowed third party apps to post on behalf of users or brands, and they seemed to mostly distance themselves from apps in general.
Instagram doesn’t necessarily sanction third party apps. There’s no list on Instagram of approved third party programs you can use. However, in order to have access to the Instagram API, apps need to pass through an approval process.
This doesn’t mean every Instagram app is approved, however. Plenty of apps simply take your credentials and log in as you, and then take actions via bot scripts, rather than pushing directives via API. This allows them to do things they couldn’t otherwise do, like make posts, but that often branded them spam apps.
Instagram’s Brand Asset Restrictions
Instagram has some pretty stringent restrictions on how you’re able to use their brand or their platform with an app.
You can read the full documentation here, but I’ll cover the gist of it.
- Your brand must be the focus of your app, rather than Instagram. Instagram content can’t make up more than 50% of the content or design of the app.
- Instagram as a term must be kept consistent. A capital I, no changes in font, and so on.
- Your brand and app cannot use “Insta” or “gram” as part of it. This technically makes many apps, like Schedugram technically in violation of site policies.
- Instagram should be kept separate from other social networks, up to and including not using “Insta” or “Gram” in hashtags that are used on other sites. I frankly don’t see how this is enforceable, but it’s in their documentation.
- Don’t violate copyrights or trademarks. Common sense stuff.
Every app that is approved will be labeled an Instagram Partner. There’s no official list of Instagram Partners, but I’ve endeavored to list as many as possible.
Being an Instagram Partner is meant to be a sign of trust. It means that the app you’re looking at has made it through the approval process required to run using the Instagram API. Among other things, this means the app complies with Instagram requirements.
One such requirement is the use of secure, encrypted authentication for login and authorization. This is one reason it’s important to only use partner apps; non-partner apps could be using a different means of authenticating itself, which might mean they store or otherwise access your login information when you authorize it to act on your behalf.
Up until the beginning of 2018, in fact, this is what every app that was able to post for you was doing. You either logged into someone else’s device and they posted manually for you, or you gave over your information and they used it when they needed to make a post as you. Both are, of course, unsafe.
The official badge requirements are fairly simple and are what you would expect. You have to apply to become a partner, and your app has to fall into one of three categories. These are Ad Tech, Community Management, or Creative Platforms.
Businesses have to be specialists in one of those three categories in at least one applicable country, which is just the list of major countries Instagram covers. You have to be willing and able to dedicate resources to adapting to changing terms of partnership and APIs. You have to be transparent in your client success and your business model. You can’t simply be a duplicate of an existing app, and you can’t promote or exploit techniques or practices Instagram prohibits.
Your app must also run on proprietary technology, not something you lease or that is provided by a partnership from another source. You can read the full details of the badge requirements, as well as find a link to the partnership application, on this page.
To give you an idea of what the Instagram Partner badge looks like, check out Iconosquare. Down all the way at the bottom of this page, in the corner, are two badges. One has the Instagram logo and says “Instagram Partner” while the other is a more traditionally-designed Facebook button with the FB logo and “Marketing Partner.” The second one is Facebook’s authorization equivalent.
Every Instagram Partner is listed in a pretty out of the way location. Specifically, they’re posted in the Solutions Explorer in the Facebook Business section, with the filter “Community Management (IG)” applied. As of this writing, there are 28 such apps.
1: Hootsuite. Hootsuite is one of those massive does-everything social media platforms that has sprawling plugins, options, and plans that fit basically every need. They’re generally on the cutting edge of features, so it’s no surprise that they’re a badged partner.
2: Agorapulse. Agorapulse is another fairly robust management platform that helps primarily with publication across numerous channels
3: Falcon.io. Falcon is a social marketing platform aimed at a variety of different marketing styles. They primarily help with content creation and curation, along with communications management in one inbox.
4: Sprout Social. Sprout is another large name in social management. They have a bunch of different features for basically every aspect of managing a social presence, alone or with a team of collaborators.
5: Swat.io. One of several sub-apps of the larger European “Die Socialisten” platform. Based in Vienna, this platform offers a number of different products you can use to manage aspects of your social media presence.
6: MomentFeed. MomentFeed is a social media management platform aimed squarely at providing the best possible experience to mobile users. As such, it has a lot of integrations with mobile-focused apps, ranging from Instagram to Snapchat.
7: Sendible. Another of the largest management tools, Sendible is aimed primarily at agency-level operations. Their primary focus is customer engagement, and they aggregate messaging into easily managed channels to keep on top of your social community.
8: Brand Bastion. This one is yet another community management app. One of the major selling points for this one is smart spam filtering and automatic responses to good comments. They also can detect helpful responses and warn you about potential issues with ads, posts, links, and other quirks of social marketing.
9: Sprinklr. Sprinklr actually has a good dozen or more products, ranging through cloud-based marketing, paid advertising management, benchmarking and product insights, social support, product ratings, social listening and more.
10: Tailwind. Tailwind is a visual marketing platform that, uniquely, focuses entirely on Instagram and Pinterest. It’s pretty unusual for these two networks to be included in standard apps, let alone being the focus to the exclusion of big names like Facebook and Twitter.
11: Planoly. Planoly is a very visual social management engine aimed for Instagram, with mobile apps to help you manage your accounts across different devices instead of just on a desktop platform. They can do anything from content curation and scheduling to comment management, team management, and shoplinks. They even do Stories on Instagram.
12: Local Measure. Local Measure is a customer management platform that helps aggregate information about customers across various channels. This helps with audience insights, as well as identifying problems with your content and even customer service. They also help you with content curation to build the kind of content stream your audience wants to see.
13: HYP3R. HYP3R is a highly location-based marketing platform. It’s aimed primarily at local businesses, to help them identify key elements about their local audience, and teach them how to reach those users most effectively. They use a lot of geo-local data to identify local trends that you might otherwise miss.
14: AppWhole. Also known as Umzzi.com, this agency is based in SNS advertising. Importantly, they’re Korean in origin, so their primary website is entirely in Korean. Their Instagram marketing wing is Gundolle.
15: Zoho Social. Zoho is a multi-channel management platform that helps with scheduling, keyword monitoring and social listening, team collaboration, and an array of other features that can help with managing multiple accounts or franchises for a single business.
16: Social Report. Among the first business apps able to let businesses post directly through their app, Social Report is itself a wide-ranging social management platform. You can see a theme here amongst Partnered apps; many of them are broad-spectrum social management platforms, with their own unique sets of features, but with significant overlap in general purpose. This one is no different save for the details.
17: Spredfast. This platform has several enterprise-grade solutions, with social analytics, communication management, and marketing primary among them. One of their most useful and unique features ,though, is their Vault. Vault is an additional layer of authentication and security to make sure your brand can’t be compromised, and that only authorized representatives can even view your inner workings, let alone post on your profiles.
18: Buffer. If you know anything about marketing, you know all about Buffer. They’re one of my favorite tools for social management and for personal use. Curating content is a snap with their extensions, and they keep adding features and tools to make themselves more and more useful Instagram partnership is just one more such benefit.
19: Later. Formerly known as Latergram, they rebranded their platform in response to Instagram’s change to their brand asset rules. They’re primarily a post scheduling and content planning app, which makes their new ability to publish directly to the platform a godsend for them. I’m sure many of their competitors are not happy right now.
20: Salesforce. You know Salesforce, right? It’s hard not to have at least heard of them before. If you don’t know, they’re a robust enterprise-level platform for managing sales goals, product information, communications channels and a whole lot else besides. I don’t think a single business integration has opened up without Salesforce jumping on the chance to be among the first to link up.
21: Conversocial. Conversocial is first and foremost a communications manager. For Instagram specifically they monitor messages and comments, can track geographic tags and hashtags, and can help you figure out where customers came from and how they found your profile in the first place.
22: Social Hub. Social Hub is more or less the same kind of thing as the above. It’s a customer communications manager that has smart inbox filtering and automatic responses, social listening, and a basic suite of publication and curation features. And, of course, it has analytics, because no management app is complete without its own slate of analytics features.
23: Sysomos. Sysomos is a company owned by Meltwater, if you’re familiar with that name. They have a variety of apps, but the Instagram-focused one is their Publish platform. It’s appropriately named, too, since it allows you to publish content across various channels, including, now, Instagram.
24: Iconosquare. There’s nothing that makes Iconosquare any worse or any better than the other all-around social management apps on this list. It’s simply a matter of preference which one of the many available tools is the one you choose to investigate. Iconosquare has the usual slate of Analytics, Communication, and Scheduling apps all in one platform.
25: MavSocial. MavSocial is another social management platform that allows you to create a cloud-based library of content and assets, both owned, licensed, and user-generated assets that can help when putting together posts across various platforms. It also does campaign planning, ad management, reporting, and curation, among other things.
26: Percolate. Named after the act of building up a slow drip, this platform helps you slow drip your content to your social feeds. I dunno what you want me to say at this point; it’s another social management app. Facebook and Instagram are giving you options when you choose one to use.
27: Curalate. This app is primarily a social curation engine that helps you tell stories with an emphasis on leading up to sales. As such, they have all the usual Instagram marketing features, including influencer marketing tools.
28: BuzzMonitor. Another of the more international tools, BuzzMonitor has all of the usual social trend monitoring, analytics, CRM, curation, and other such tools. You can do influencer marketing, publishing, communication, and everything else with this tool.
As of right now, that’s the complete list of apps Instagram has added to their partner program. I imagine in the months moving forward, more and more will be added. Feel free to check the database again in the future.