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TechSoup Battles: Jane Reviews Buffer

Community & Social Media

This review is part of our eighth TechSoup Battles challenge on social media management tools. Find out what it’s all about and check out our previous challenges.

Buffer is often compared with Hootsuite as one of the most popular social media management tools currently on the market. As someone who has used both products, I would recommend identifying what the focus of your social media management tool is before deciding between the two. 

What is Buffer?

Buffer is best described as a social media content distribution tool. All-in-one tools, such as Hootsuite, provide listening and monitoring abilities in a central location as a large part of their focus. Buffer focuses more on helping you to find good content and distribute it easily to your various social media channels at the best time possible.

Pricing & Features

Buffer has three plans available: Individual, Awesome and Business

Individual

Awesome<>

Business

Cost

 

Free

 

 

$10/month or $102/year (50% discount for nonprofits)

 

Starts at $50/month
Users

1 user, 1 of each social account, and 10 posts per profile

 

2 Team members, 12 social profiles, and 200 posts

5 Team members
25 connected accounts
unlimited posts
Feeds

N/A

RSS Feed Integration

RSS Feed integration

Analytics

 

N/A

 

 

N/A

 

Rich Analytics

 

Buffer offers 50% discount to charities on their awesome and business plan (for example: $50/month would be $25/month for charities)

Which plan is best for you?

Individual Plan:

  • Small nonprofits that have just one Facebook page or Twitter account and use social media to distribute content occasionally
  • Ideal for the busy individual that would like to be able to automatically post to different social media channels

Awesome Plan:

  • Small to medium nonprofits that have at least one social media person and are active on multiple social media channels
  • Ideal if your organization distributes a lot of content and would like more granular scheduling ability

Business:

  • Organizations that have at least two team members contributing content, multiple accounts on each social media channel, and would like to receive rich analytics

Key Features of Buffer:

Scheduling:
This is one of the features I like the most about Buffer. When you have content that you want to send out to multiple channels, you may not want to post them all at the same time. By default, Buffer will recommend posting times for each of your social media accounts, so you can schedule your content to be posted at different times on different channels. You can further customize each account by specifying the number of posts per day or manually entering specific times. Awesome and Business packages also give you the ability to create new schedules for each day of the week.

Still want to optimize your posting time further? The Optimal Scheduler Tool (not available in Individual plan and is currently in Beta) looks at the active engagement times of your followers and recommend posting times accordingly.

[Extra Resource]: Twitter users can use Followerwonk [https://followerwonk.com/] to customize posting times based on either the people you follow or your followers. If you are using the Individual account, you can just copy over the suggested times.  

 

 

 

 

Content Aggregation:
If you are like me, I do most of my reading in the morning or late at night. When I come across good content, I want to be able to just mark it for posting and keep going. Buffer’s very user-friendly Chrome extension does just that. Once an article has been selected for posting, you can edit the draft for each account  before queueing it for distribution. I found this to be extremely helpful to customize my tone and curation based on the channel that I’m posting to even though it might be the same content. The Chrome extension is also handy when you want to post a quote or share images, simply highlight and schedule away!

 

 

If you find that on certain social media channels you post similar types of content, you can group those social media accounts together and segment the content based on the types of interactions you want to have. For example, I post knowledge articles frequently on Twitter and LinkedIn instead of my personal Facebook page, so I created a group for Twitter and LinkedIn, saving me time as my knowledge articles will be posted to both channels automatically.

 

To make it even easier to gather content for posting, feeds can be used to pull in content from your favourite websites (available on Awesome and Business). On the tablet, for example, I’ve integrated Pocket and Flipbook to post to Buffer, allowing me to quickly access the content I want to post. 

 

[Extra resource]: You can also use IFTT to send content from Instagram or Pinterest.

With team members that would like to contribute content ideas (but not actually do the posting), Buffer has the option to add them as a contributor for a specific account. The contributions sit in a separate queue until you have approved them for posting. For someone like me who is not the main social media person at my organization, I like this feature, because it allows me to contribute to the content but not have to worry about messaging it properly or when it gets sent out.

 

Analytics:
Rich analytics is only available in the Business version and is something I wish came with the Awesome plan. Individual and Awesome plans currently will give you basic stats on each of your posts as well as your top post/tweet.  

Business Plan version:

 

With the Business plan you can integrate Google Analytics to set your own UTM tracking for your campaigns for each of your accounts.

 

 

For each of your accounts on the Business plan, you can track your engagement from how often you post with the type of engagement you have with your followers.

 

Wrap Up:

As someone with limited time to spend on social media, I found Buffer to be a great tool to distribute content easily and effectively to my multiple channels. However, because Buffer is not a monitoring or listening tool and if you’re interested in being able to do more analysis, I would recommend coupling it with another tool to maximize your social media management and engagement.