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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
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!**