When you need to get serious about social media, you'll probably want to manage and schedule all your posts across multiple accounts. It makes life a lot easier if everything is in one place though, so people often turn to other paid services for this, like Buffer and Hootsuite.
The problem is, people often seem to view them like Coke and Pepsi but they're actually quite different and won't necessarily suit everyone.
I've used both packages a lot this year, so I thought it would be helpful to share what I've learned so far. You don't need to be in business to benefit from them either, as people with a lot to do on social media are sure to find them extremely useful.
This could be anyone with a blog or website, those who represent groups and associations or need to promote an event.
In this post, I'll focus on the entry-level packages on offer rather than the more expensive plans aimed at larger organisations. I'll also help you work out what's likely to suit you and more importantly, make your online life a lot easier.
I have to start off by saying that I really like the team behind Buffer, as their fresh and friendly startup approach to customer interactions can't help but make you smile. The interface they provide is also extremely simple and straightforward, so there shouldn't be any nasty surprises when you first see it.
The main thing is that it's really easy to use.
I don't think there's any escaping the fact this is all focussed on posting rather than reporting or managing interactions though. That said, I'm sure you'll quickly appreciate how easy it is to use and get a week's schedule set up across multiple accounts.
The most important features for me are the automatic inclusion of images from URL's and the ability to quickly 'Re-Buffer' anything you need to post again. The image function is particularly useful, as most of the images I use are usually included in my posts.
This means that I just need to enter a URL, rather than go hunting around folders for files.
It's also easy to set up a schedule, so Buffer automatically automatically posts the next message in your list at set times each day. This makes everything easy to manage and you should instantly see where you are each day.
A free account is offered, but I think it will be a bit restrictive for most users. You can only have one of each account type and Pinterest isn't included. It's also restricts you to 10 scheduled posts on each account as well. The Awesome account is a different story though.
For $10 a month, you should get all the options you need and you can now add Pinterest.
The most significant advantage over Hootsuite is that the the option to pay monthly, rather than a one-off yearly fee, is a lot cheaper. If you prefer this option though, the monthly rate is also discounted.
Unfortunately, the Awesome plan you doesn't give you access to the advanced analytics that are included with the business packages, but you do get see how well your posts are doing. There also a weekly reports sent to you via email that are really useful.
They also send you nice messages when things are going well or you get a great response to a post.
- Automatically includes images from URL's
- Easy to repost content
- Handy scheduling options
- Individual scheduling is a bit buggy
- Basic analytics on the Awesome plan
- Just focussed on scheduling
I think it's safe to say that the team behind Hootsuite are doing a great job marketing their product and raising awareness online. They also have a great blog and it's a safe bet that you'll be presented with their product when you start to look for a service.
They offer a complete solution and take care of all your social media requirements.
As well as scheduling and automation, there are multiple options to aid interaction and some very advanced reporting features. This inevitably creates a more crowded interface though, so everything may be a bit confusing when you first use it.
At this point, you're probably wondering why I even mentioned Buffer when Hootsuite has all these features on offer.
The simple answer is that you have to pay extra for all the reporting options in the form of credits (you only get one with the standard account). I personally think that this removes this option from the reach of casual users and it's really just something for larger organisations.
If you interact with a lot of people on your profiles, you'll probably want to stick with Hootsuite, as Buffer doesn't really offer anything in that department.
The Hootsuite Professional plan, equivalent to Buffer's Awesome plan, is also a lot more expensive, starting at £16 (not dollars) a month if you pay annually. Like Buffer, the business plans are also likely to be way more than any small business or semi-professional would require.
- Advanced reporting options
- Easy to view schedule
- Great interaction management
- You need to pay more for advanced reporting
- Easy to lose your work
- Expensive monthly payment options
So, Buffer or Hootsuite?
I'll get straight to it and plant my flag firmly in Buffer's corner. When it comes to posting and scheduling, you just can't beat it.
For me, the simplicity, the image options and the ability to quickly repost makes Buffer my choice.
The fact that it's a lot cheaper surely has to make a difference as well. When you also factor in the option to cancel it after just one month if you need to, it really starts to make sense.
While I can see how Hootsuite would suit larger organisations, I honestly don't think it's as well suited to less advanced users. You can also use free services like TweetDeck to enjoy similar display features.
Even if money was no option, I would probably still use Buffer for scheduling.
I hope this has all been helpful and that it's made things a lot clearer. I honestly think people are likely to pay a lot more for Hootsuite given its reputation and not be aware that Buffer may be a better option for them.
If you haven't decided though, you can try Buffer and Hootsuite for free to see what really suits you. Just follow the links below to get yourself set up and ready to go:
Good luck and I'd love to hear how you got on.