Buffer Marketing Library Instagram Marketing

20+ Free Instagram Tools to Help You Grow Your Following

Alfred Lua
Alfred Lua Former Product Marketer @ Buffer
20+ Free Instagram Tools to Help You Grow Your Following

12 min read
You will learn

Instagram is way more than just a social media platform. It’s a full-fledged marketing channel that small business owners can harness to drive traffic, boost revenue, and generate new leads.

Along with being one of the top social media domains, Instagram is also the preferred platform by Gen Z, millennials, and Gen X alike—which means your content can get in front of millions of people — everyone from community members to potential customers.

There are hundreds of apps you can use to support your marketing strategy, but we’ll show you the 20 best Instagram tools. These tools will help you maximize engagement with your audience, from creating content that inspires to pulling powerful insights from analytics—plus, everything on this list is free!

Schedule your Instagram posts, carousels, stories, and reels with Buffer
Visually plan your content calendar and make your profile a "must-follow" with Buffer's suite of Instagram scheduling and analytics tools.

Free tools for creating Instagram content

Even the best creators need design help. These content creation tools will help you stay inspired, keep you up to date with current trends, and give you access to free, easy-to-use templates for your feed, Reels, and Stories.

1. Canva

Use Canva to create awesome photos

Canva is a graphic design platform that’s wildly popular with busy creators for its versatility.

The website features templates that come in every format you need, including your Instagram feed and Stories. It also has easy-to-use drag-and-drop features, so you don’t have to be a graphic designer to make quality assets.

Canva also comes with a stock library with photos, animations, music, and videos that are helpful to create ads and Reels.

Canva is free to use, but its paid plan unlocks even more design features, like the ability to create a brand tool kit and access to the best designs.

2. Unfold

Unfold provides hundreds of premade story templates

The Unfold app is a Squarespace product with over 200 templates to create beautiful Instagram Stories.

Unfold comes with built-in fonts (so you’re not limited by Instagram’s selections) and photo-editing tools.

Unfold is free to use, but its paid plan unlocks even more design templates and features.

3. Adobe Creative Cloud Express (formerly Adobe Spark)

Adobe Creative Cloud
Resize and convert images with Creative Cloud Express

Anyone familiar with Adobe Spark will be thrilled to learn that it’s been improved and rebranded as Creative Cloud Express.

This tool is Adobe’s solution to well-designed social media templates with easy-to-use, drag-and-drop features. It’s also a good alternative to expensive photo-editing apps thanks to its basic editing features like resizing, background removal, and file conversion — go from JPG to PNG or from PNG to JPG in a snap.

There are thousands of templates available in Adobe’s library, in addition to fonts, stock music, and a limited selection of stock images from Adobe’s library.

Adobe Creative Cloud Express is free, but the paid plan gives you access to even more assets, music, and design features


Envision your IG feed with UNUM

UNUM is a visual planner app that allows you to see what your profile grid will look like after you post your next few photos. You can also edit your photos and videos, draft your caption and hashtags, and schedule your posts with the app.

UNUM has Instagram analytics tools and scheduling capabilities, but we like it for its design templates.

With its free plan, you get 18 grids to plan your posts and 500 photo and video uploads per month. There are paid options available, which gives you access to more planning grids and a higher upload limit.

5. StoriesAds

Stories Ads
Make quality content with Stories Ads

StoriesAds is a tool specifically designed to help you make high-quality Instagram Stories (along with vertical videos in general).

It provides several templates so that you don’t have to create a video from scratch. The intuitive video editor also prompts you to customize the video.

Its website states that the tool is “Free for a limited time,” so you might have to pay to use its marketing tools in the future.

6. Buffer Stories Creator

Buffer's Stories Creator
Craft aesthetically pleasing posts with Stories Creator

Buffer’s Stories Creator is a powerful tool to create high-quality, eye-catching Stories.

It features a user-friendly interface for creators who are short on time or have limited design experience. Start by uploading an image you want to use. Alternatively, you can choose a solid background color. You also have the option to upload your logo or any other branded assets. Then, type a message using any of Buffer’s fonts—letting you move away from Instagram’s limited choices.

If you need inspiration or don’t know where to start, Buffer has created a handful of gorgeous templates to jumpstart your design work.

7. Buffer Remix

Buffer Remix
Easily transforms tweets into graphics with Buffer Remix

Buffer Remix lets you easily transform content from a link, tweet, or Shopify product into beautiful Instagram graphics.

Imagine your customers tag you in tweets about how amazing your products are. Buffer Remix lets you grab those tweets, turn them into well-designed image assets, and post them on your Instagram feed. This means you can share positive customer feedback on multiple social media platforms at once.

Plus, it’s a free and simple tool to use. All you need to do is download the app and paste in the link you want to share. The tool does the work for you, creating a well-designed asset. Then, you can customize the design to fit your brand identity.

Free tools to increase engagement and get new followers

Take control of your Instagram presence to increase post engagement, drive traffic to your website, and widen your customer base. These tools will help you do it.

8. Buffer

Plan out your social media content with Buffer

Buffer is an all-encompassing social media management app designed to help marketers and small business owners schedule posts for their social media accounts across multiple platforms.

The tool lets you plan and monitor social media campaigns, and respond to user comments and DMs through the tool. It also gives you customized recommendations to improve your Instagram marketing strategy.  

The best part about Buffer is that it’s simple and easy to use — plus, it’s the most affordable third-party Instagram scheduling tool out there.  

9. Buffer Start Page

Buffer Start Page
Create a homepage for your brand in minutes with Start Page

Buffer Start Page is a new tool from Buffer to provide small businesses with an easy, flexible mobile landing page.

If you want to optimize your link-in-bio for a mobile-first experience, Start Page is perfect for businesses on Instagram that don’t have a website yet. It’s also a great solution for businesses that are in the process of rebranding or updating their website, so you don’t lose out on valuable traffic while your main site is down.

10. Creator Studio

Creator Studio
Manage your digital content with Creator Studio

Creator Studio is a content management tool available to any business account in Meta (Instagram’s parent company). It’s a straightforward space to create posts, schedule and manage them, and find monetization opportunities from existing content.

That being said, there are some limitations to Creator Studio:

  • It just recently rolled out the ability to schedule Instagram Stories, so the process is still a little clunky.
  • You aren’t able to schedule Instagram Reels.
  • There is no dynamic asset control, so Creator Studio doesn’t automatically compress incorrectly sized images to fit the platform (unlike other tools for Instagram management and posting directly in the app).

These limitations may disappear over time, but for now, Creator Studio remains a good solution for managing in-feed, photo-based digital marketing content.

11. Ads Manager

Ads Manager
Review your social campaigns with Ads Manager

Ads Manager is the central portal for managing paid advertising campaigns across Meta (including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Audience Network).

This tool lets you create ads, build campaigns, manage campaigns, and monitor the results with all the usual metrics. It also lets you experiment with A/B testing, dynamic creative, and audience segmentation in order to refine your advertising strategy.

You don’t have to pay to use this tool or configure it for your Instagram, but you’ll need to pay to run ad campaigns.

12. Hashtag Expert

Hashtag Expert
Hashtag Expert finds you the most relevant hashtags for your content

Hashtag Expert uses AI to find the best hashtags for your audience.

Start by entering one hashtag, and the software will generate a group of similar high-performing Instagram hashtags you can use in your posts. You can copy multiple hashtags at once to batch upload in a post’s caption.

13. Gleam

Thinking of hosting a giveaway on your page? Gleam is for you

Gleam is a marketing app designed to help you manage contests and giveaways online.

We like this app because it offers a free plan to host an unlimited number of contests.

Gleam has paid plans for any Instagram business account that wants access to more features.  

Free tools for finding Instagram influencers and UGC

Influencer marketing expands the reach of your content marketing efforts by placing your products and services in front of more eyes. The problem is, identifying the right influencers for your audience can be a challenge. These tools will help you find influencers, manage tagged content, and connect you with content creators who love your brand.

14. Brand Collab Manager

Brand Collab Manager
Find the perfect influencer for your business through Brand Collab Manager

Brand Collab Manager is a native Meta tool that helps connect brands with influencers.

It’s free for Instagram and Facebook users, but there are criteria in order to qualify:

  • You must comply with Facebook’s Branded Content Policies
  • You must meet Facebook’s Partner Monetization Policies
  • You must have 1,000 followers and at least one of the following:
  • 15,000 post engagements in the last 60 days
  • 180,000 minutes viewed in the last 60 days
  • 30,000 one-minute views for three-minute videos in the last 60 days

In addition, you must be the page admin for the page you are submitting, and your page must be located in an eligible country.

One of the biggest benefits of the Brand Collab Manager is that brands can easily research influencers and creators that fit their audience. The tool also lets brands manage influencer contracts and payments, along with campaign performance.

15. ShortStack

Locate great user-generated content with ShortStack

ShortStack is an app designed to help businesses manage contests on social media — particularly Instagram.

But what makes ShortStack stand out is its tool to manage user-generated content (UGC). Once you run a contest, the app will log every time a user tags you across the platform, so it’s easy to find photos and videos from users that hype your brand instead of relying on the Instagram algorithm.

Its free plan lets you host an unlimited number of contests and collect up to 100 entries. ShortStack also has paid plans if you want to collect more entries and get more advanced features.

16. Repost for Instagram

Repost for Instagram
Share Instagram content easily with Repost

Repost for Instagram lets you repost an Instagram post on your Instagram account with just a few taps while also giving credit to the post owner.

Before you repost any photos or videos, remember to get permission from the post owner and give them credit in your caption. Not only is this required by Instagram’s terms of use, but it's also doing right by the amazing creators and businesses on Instagram.

To get permission for reposting, you can send the post owner a DM, comment on the post, or connect via email.

If you are using the Buffer mobile app — Android or iOS — you can also easily add a repost into your Buffer queue.

17. squarelovin

Turn user posts into shoppable content with Squarelovin

squarelovin is a social media marketing app designed specifically to help e-commerce brands.

The app has some analytics capabilities, but we love it for its user-generated content (UGC) solutions. Not only will the app comb through Instagram to find any posts and videos your brand is tagged in, but it also helps you turn UGC into shoppable content on your feed.

Free tools for monitoring your Instagram analytics

Analytics are the secret sauce to refine your marketing strategy. These tools help you see trends in user engagement with your content so you can see what’s working, what’s not working, and where you need to shift resources.

18. Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights
Instagram insights provides detailed analytics for your IG account

Instagram Insights is an in-app analytics feature for anyone with an Instagram business account.

It shows you important metrics, like engagement rates, audience growth, and follower demographics.

Here’s how to access your Instagram Insights:

  • Log in to (or create) your Instagram for Business account.
  • Go to your profile.
  • Tap the Insights button.

Note that you’ll only be able to see insights for the period of time you’ve had a business account. For example, if you’ve had a personal account for five years but just made the switch to a business account one month ago, Instagram Insights will only have information from the past month.

19. Buffer Analyze

Buffer Analyze
Track key metrics with Buffer Analyze

Buffer is a free app to plan and schedule social media content, but it also comes with an in-depth analytics tool to help you monitor your content’s performance.

The tool organizes every key metric you want to measure—including likes, comments, shares, tags, clicks, reach, and more—into one clean and simple to use dashboard. Insights are presented in beautiful graphics that you can screenshot and use in your reporting. It’s also one of the only free options on the market to offer insights on Instagram Stories.

20. Keyhole

Keep tabs on important data with Keyhole

Keyhole is an analytics tool that lets you automate your reporting process.

You can also customize a dashboard to show the information that’s most important to you and your stakeholders.  

Keyhole is free with a 7-day trial (but you don’t need to put down a credit card). We recommend using the time to conduct a comprehensive audit of your Instagram, finding out exactly what’s working and what could be refined.

21. Iconosquare

Monitor your Instagram account's growth with Iconosquare

Iconosquare is primarily used to monitor channel growth and track the performance of your Instagram content.

This app features a clean and simple dashboard that automatically calculates engagement rates (impressions, likes, comments, reach, etc.) and percentage of change over time.

You can enjoy a free version of Iconosquare for 14 days. After that, you will be offered a paid version of the app. Use the first 14 days to pull as much information as possible, like best times to post, audience demographics, and top content.  

Make the most of free Instagram tools and watch your audience grow

Any of the tools in this list will add a tremendous amount of support for your marketing team. Here’s how to pick the right ones for your small business:

  1. Determine your goals. Do you want to drive traffic to your website? You may want to focus on ads and include a call-to-action to click the link in your bio. Do you want to grow your follower count? Focus on analytics and creating engaging content.
  2. Track your progress. Monitor your Instagram’s performance and follower growth over time using analytics.

If anything seems out of the ordinary, don’t be afraid to refine your strategy as needed.

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