social media

Hootsuite vs. Buffer

Hootsuite vs. Buffer - which is better for scheduling social media? Click through to learn...

For years I've used Hootsuite to schedule social media. I've went through the free trial period of pretty much every social media schedule management tool, but kept coming back to Hootsuite again and again. Over the past few months, I felt like more and more people were raving about Buffer and I felt a little #FOMO so I tried it out again. I used it on it's own for a month, went back to Hootsuite, and now I'm using them both at the same time…

My main “issue” with Buffer is that it is really a scheduling tool and not a social media management platform. But after taking some time to review my social media strategy, I've come to the conclusion that it's not really a question of Hootsuite vs. Buffer, because I need to use them both for different things. Buffer makes it so much easier to just schedule content, but I need Hootsuite for features like viewing multiple feeds, monitoring mentions / messages, and keeping track of hashtags (for client work or during twitter chats).

Hootsuite vs. Buffer

For those of you who aren't familiar with one or the other, here's a break down the pros / cons of each as they relate to my social media management needs. I probably haven't used all aspects of either platform, but the average person probably doesn't need to! I've used the free and lowest paid versions for both services (Hootsuite Pro + Buffer Awesome for $10/month each) but there are also more robust (and expensive) versions for both.

Hootsuite

PROS: 

  • You can see all your activity in one place –  keep track of your feeds as well as create “streams” to keep track of things like scheduled posts, mentions, hashtags, and other interactions.
  • You can schedule up to 350 posts with the Pro plan and the calendar view makes it easy to see your schedule for the day / week / month ahead.
  • There are options to view scheduled posts in list-view or in a calendar style view by day, week, or month. It's also easy to drag and drop posts if you want to change up the schedule!

CONS:

  • You have to type or paste links into a specific box and click to shorten it. It's an annoying step and the default link shortener is ow.ly which is fine, but I'd prefer the option to use bit.ly so that all my tracked links are in one place.
  • The reporting system is robust but overly complicated. There isn't a quick and easy way to see your account history sorted by specific analytics like retweets or clicks.
  • The auto scheduler is a nice feature but I found that often the “optimal” times were very close together and I often had to turn it off and manually adjust the scheduled post times.
  • The RSS feed feature allows you to connect RSS feeds to share content, but it auto-sends all posts from the RSS feed based on your scheduled settings. I wish you had more control over which posts you share.
  • If you want to share video, you have to link to the video on YouTube or wherever the video is hosted. There isn't an option to upload a video directly to share via Hootsuite.

Buffer

PROS: 

  • The dashboard is very easy to navigate, and scheduling is intuitive.
  • Buffer auto-shortens any links you pop in, and you can connect your bit.ly account (or use other shortening options).
  • The optimal timing tool allows you to set a schedule based on when you get the highest engagement. You can re-optimize the schedule at any time and it will automatically adjust the times of your already scheduled posts. Also, you can set different schedules for different days (like the weekend) on the Awesome plan.
  • Analytics are basic but you can easily sort your previous posts by likes/ shares/ clicks/ etc. and “re-buffer” any popular posts.
  • On the Awesome Plan, you can connect up to 15 RSS feeds and buffer directly from a curated selection of feeds. I love this feature as it makes it easy to share content from certain sites that I reference often without actually having to go to the site.
  • It's easy to upload a video to share directly from Buffer – you can drag and drop into the scheduler just like you do to share photos!

CONS: 

  • Buffer does not have social media management capabilities beyond scheduling so you have to use a separate site / program to view your feeds and keep track of interactions.
  • The recent addition of the calendar view was a really big improvement in my opinion since I like to visually see my schedule and move things around – sometimes I want to change up the order of the content I'm sharing so there aren't too many promotional posts or posts about the same topic in a row.
  • You can only schedule up to 100 posts at a time on the Awesome plan which can be limiting if you are managing multiple accounts and posting multiple times a day.
  • Although you can schedule pins, I find that the system is not user friendly. (I prefer Tailwind for Pinterest scheduling and analytics)

It's worth mentioning that there is a Power Scheduler tool available through the Buffer extension that allows you to schedule a post now and then at specific times in the future. So for example, you could schedule a post now on Twitter, in a few days on Facebook and in 3 weeks again on Twitter. It's a nice option to have, but the actual tool is not so user-friendly in my opinion. It's also not currently available on the main dashboard so you have to be using the browser extension to use it.

Final thoughts

In short, Buffer wins for making scheduling SO easy, but I still use Hootsuite to view my feeds and manage interaction. If I had to pick just 1 to use, it would be Hootsuite because it offers everything I need to schedule AND manage social media, but truth is I find that using them both in combination is the best workflow for me.

Are you currently using either of these to schedule social media? I'd love to know your thoughts!

**Update 6/2016 – since this post was written, I've switched to a different tool for scheduling Twitter / Facebook. I still recommend Buffer / Hootsuite for the reasons mentioned in this post, but you can learn more about how using SmarterQueue saves me a ton of time!**

Scheduling Social Media Content – What To Share And When To Share It

Scheduling social media content - what to share and when to share it. Tips for bloggers or entrepreneurs using social media to marketing their blog or business.

I used to work in a highly regulated corporate environment – the company blocked access to gmail, basically every social media network, and any site with even remotely questionably content. In some ways I'm thankful… because it's amazing how much more productive you can be when you don't have access to social media all day. Though even now that I own my own business, like most people, I don't have time to post/ tweet/ share/ publish social media content throughout the day so scheduling social media is key!

SCHEDULING SOCIAL MEDIA

I'm the type of person that needs to schedule anything and everything if I actually want to get it done. My to do list (I love Asana) and various calendars (google calendar + WordPress editorial calendar), are the only way I can function. So once a month, I schedule time to schedule social media. Yes, that's right. I schedule time to schedule. Technically I scheduled time to write this blog post about scheduling time to schedule. Welcome to my type-A, workaholic life.

I strongly believe you don't have to be active on every social network out there.

Honestly, if you try, you are probably not using them all effectively. If you're posting for the sake of posting, you're wasting time. Quality above quantity, always.  

Your last post / photo/ tweet may be the first post / photo / tweet that someone sees when they come across one of your social media profiles. If it doesn't send the right message to your audience, don't post it. True story: a couple years ago I was interviewing potential assistants and googled one candidate. She had literally just tweeted about how much she hated working. Just no. 

SmarterQueue - evergreen social media scheduling tool

WHAT TO SHARE

To be honest I don't care what you ate for dinner. I don't care that you spent the weekend hiking with your friend from college. I definitely don't care that your baby threw up this morning. There is definitely someone that cares… it's just not me. That's why it's crazy important to know your audience. If you are a nutritionist, maybe your audience does care what you ate for dinner. If you're a fitness coach, your audience would probably love to see photos of you hiking. If you're a mommy blogger, you're audience can actually relate to your baby vomit.

Focus on sharing targeted content that is either: 1) educational 2) inspirational 3) community building or 4) promotional.

EDUCATIONAL CONTENT

Educational content could be anything that teaches your audience something (duh). This is the best way to get people to TRUST you, because the more you give away your “secrets” – the more people will perceive you as an authority in your field! You don't have to an expert, in fact, many people relate better when they know someone has had similar problems. So try to fill in this sentence with things that relate to you and your audience: I used to struggle with _____, until I learned _____. For example, I used to struggle with time management, until I learned how to batch process photos or I used to struggle with getting my lipstick to last all day, until I learned to use a straw when I drink diet coke and buy all the Bite Beauty Matte Creme Lip Crayons (seriously, they are SO good). Spread the love and share what you know!

INSPIRATIONAL CONTENT

Inspirational content is probably the easiest type of content to share, but it's not always useful. If you are a graphic designer who sells letterpress stationery, sharing photos of your beach vacation could be “inspirational,” but how does that really help your business? It would probably make more sense for your brand strategy to share a photo of a beautiful wedding or a styled desktop where people could actually envision your products in action. Your inspirational content should actually inspire your audience to DO something, not just be inspired for the sake of inspiration. Unless you are selling inspiration… but I'm pretty sure that's not a thing.

Experiment at first, and then let your analytics guide you. The best times to post on social media are the times when your target audience is active on social media – so the specific times are different for everyone!Click To Tweet

COMMUNITY BUILDING

Community building content is anything that encourages engagement and builds a relationship with your audience. Regardless of how many followers you have, engagement matters – because if you're not being social on social media then you're doing it wrong. Community building content could be asking for feedback on a new product idea or running a challenge / contest and incentivizing your followers to participate. Community building could also be sharing other people's content (with credit!) and promoting like-minded businesses that may appeal to your audience as well. Try a few different things and see how your audience responds. If you don't consistently monitor and track engagement levels, you have no way of knowing whether your social media strategies are working!

PROMOTIONAL CONTENT

Promotional content should not just be “buy this product!” or “shop our sale!” but if you're not taking advantage of your social networks to promote your own products / services, then you are seriously missing out on some (really affordable) marketing opportunities! Yes social media is for being social, but it's also a valuable tool you can leverage for sales. Your followers are following you for a reason, and if you are sharing the mostly a mix of educational, inspirational, and community building content, then integrating promotional content won't seem as icky. Give, give, give, then sell.

You might like: 265 Instagram Prompts for Creative Entrepreneurs

WHEN TO SHARE IT

The short answer is (again) know your audience. There are a ton of resources that will tell you when the “optimal” times to post on social media are, but it really comes down to who you are trying to reach. Experiment at first, and then let your analytics guide you. The best times to post on social media are the times when your target audience is active on social media – so the specific times are different for everyone!

Tailwind - best Pinterest scheduler for bloggers

There are a lot of tools you can use to schedule social media but these are the ones that I currently use and recommend:

INSTAGRAM:

Scheduling: Planoly / Analytics: Iconosquare, Instagram Insights

TWITTER:

Scheduling: SmarterQueue / Analytics:SmarterQueue, Twitter Analytics

Facebook: 

Scheduling:SmarterQueue / Analytics: SmarterQueue, Facebook's Insights

Pinterest:

Scheduling: Tailwind/ Analytics: Tailwind, Pinterest analytics

Also, just because I schedule most of my content, that doesn't mean I put social totally on autopilot. Because I schedule it, I have more time to actually engage on social – leave / reply to comments, find new people to connect with, etc. Unless you have all the time in the world, you probably want to spend less time managing social media and more time growing your business. So schedule time to schedule it.

If you're already scheduling social media, I'd love to know what programs you've found to be most helpful!