One of the most demanded requests for Hootsuite from customers and marketers alike has now been granted. As of January 30, users can schedule and publish Instagram posts directly through the social media management platform as part of its Application Programming Interface (API). In addition, marketers can also access and view posts they’ve been tagged in and other branded profile responses, resulting in valued insights to keep track of organic content and overall performance on the platform.

On its partnership with the fastest-growing social media network, PerformanceIN got the chance to speak to Hootsuite’s Jeremy Wood (VP of product marketing).

Firstly, Jeremy, tell us a little bit about your role at Hootsuite?

Jeremy Wood: I’m the VP of product marketing over at Hootsuite. I have three core groups under me; one is product marketing and solutions marketing group, sales enablement group and partner marketing. I also look after the marketing function which is tightly aligned with sales.

You’ve just announced some new features to the Instagram API, including scheduling and publishing content via the Hootsuite dashboard. How’s this going to change things for social media marketers?

JW: We’re really excited about the announcement. It’s been the number one most requested feature from our users for about two years since the launch of the Instagram integration.

There are a couple of components this brings to marketers. One is the security of having this API attachment the platform connects with to schedule and publish posts directly to Instagram. The second one is the scheduling functionality which is really key. The theme to remember here is flexibility – allowing people to schedule and publish content when it makes sense for them and what the performance data tells and aligning this with their objectives.

This has been long-awaited among marketers using IG. Why has it taken so long to add this ability?

JW: Let’s make one thing clear; this was a limitation. Instagram previously didn’t have the capability or didn’t make this available from an API perspective. We’ve been working really closely with them and because of our close partnership, we were able to get into their Alpha Programme for this graph API. We’ve had four customers on the programme for a number of months now and using that as the mechanism to garner feedback and how this API is going to work. We’re one of the premium partners that launched the update when Instagram made the announcement.

It is a well-known fact that they [Instagram] are extremely sensitive to consumer behaviour and the customer experience so they wanted to make sure that they got the experience right and wouldn’t comprise it by opening an API unnecessarily. We’re excited to be alongside them and to activate it in real-time.

A recent report showed Instagram to be leagues ahead in terms of popularity among influencers. How do you think the ability to schedule posts could affect this?

JW: One thing that we’re seeing from our standpoint is a new frontier of people leveraging the data and insights they’re getting across all digital means, including social. What we’re starting to see is that using those insights people can actually start targeting some of the functionality in more advanced ways, mapping them against posting schedules and making sure the experience is refined and optimised as much as possible.

With regards to Hootsuite’s own data and insights, what do you see as key trends and developments impacting social media marketing at present?

JW: ROI [return on investment] continues to be the number one among marketers in general. Data is getting better, the transparency of the data and the usefulness of context is getting better and we continue to see a lot of opportunities around leveraging data we’re sitting on.

We’re in a really interesting position in social around artificial intelligence [AI] and machine learning. We’re seeing a lot of larger vendors across the ecosystem starting to leverage things like AI in interesting ways. I think an interesting component of that is the authenticity, the ability of social and the human behaviour and seeing that in an AI-centric way is going to be really exciting.

Have you seen anything unexpected?

JW: The other big thing is device usage and the way people are accessing it. We know in general everything is moving to mobile and how people are interacting right now globally is very forward-thinking and I think social is playing a huge part in that. I think behaviour and how people are doing their research on the platform is going to be really interesting for all parties involved.

What are your thoughts on the recent algorithm changes to Facebook’s News Feed and the effect this will have on social media marketing?

JW: I think our stance is unchanged in what we provide to social media providers and professionals – which is to remain nimble and to make sure they align their goals and objectives to where they see an impact.

We’re also telling users that what works for one business may work differently for another. This is most important because it allows you to be adaptive to any ongoing changes.

In terms of scheduling social media, how do you recommend marketers don’t fall into a “set it and forget it” mindset with their content and keep their output optimised and reactive to current trends and events?

JW: That’s a great question. There’s probably an easy way for people to get into the situation of “set it and forget it” mindset; like I said with the Facebook comment, staying nimble, on top and aware of your insights and analytics is going to make sure that you publish in the most appropriate and optimal way. So our push from a thought leadership perspective is to react to the analytics, the insights, knowing your customers and how they operate and that would ultimately be aligned to ensure you publish and schedule in the most appropriate way.

Lastly, what else can we expect from Hootsuite in the coming months?

JW: We’ve got a great roadmap coming up. One of them is making sure we bring the most amount of social networks to our customers, so not only we will continue with and going deeper with our existing integrations, such as the Instagram graph API but also things like Pinterest which has been requested by those within the FMCG [Fast Moving Consumer Goods] and retail world being the “most prominent” so we’re excited to bring that in the next couple of months.

We’re also doubling down on the scheduling and publishing as the core functionality of our platform, making sure that it is robust as possible. ROI and analytics as we talked about from a trends point of view which will continue to be a cornerstone of our focus. In our Hootsuite and analytics products, we’ll continue to not only bring more meaningful robust analytics but also the breath of that analytics – so adding integrations to other, broader digital analytics platforms, better ways to export your data into the API tools.

We’re really excited about our partnership with Adobe, bringing that joint added value to our customers.