OK, so you’ve made the jump into social media and have set up your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn profiles for your business/website. Now it’s time to post on your profiles– but wait…what were the Twitter logins again? Were they the same as Facebook? On top of that, you have to log in to each profile individually to post your updates. So you copy and paste your status update from Facebook into Twitter…but now it says the character count is too long. What started out as a step in the right direction, has now turned in to a frustrating ordeal, especially when you have better things to do, like run your business or website.
Luckily, there are a lot of great social media management platforms out there that enable you to update and view all your social media profiles simultaneously. In this blog, I’ll attempt to compare and contrast two of the most popular ones, HootSuite and Buffer, based on different criteria such as social networks, mobile and scheduling capabilities. Finally, I’ll be looking at both platforms free vs. paid accounts and what gives you the best bang for your buck.
Buffer supports Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This includes Facebook profiles, Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, LinkedIn company pages and LinkedIn Groups.
HootSuite definitely has the edge in this department, supporting Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn but also Google+, YouTube, Instagram, WordPress, Foursquare, StumbleUpon and a plethora of other social networks. Simply install the app for the social network you’d like to link from HootSuite’s list of apps and it’s just a matter of entering in your login information.
It’s worth noting that both platforms are app-driven, so you can tailor each to suit your needs. With Buffer, the apps are more functionality-based. For instance, installing an app will allow you to use Buffer on a particular browser, news reader blog or mobile device.
Both platforms offer mobile support and allow you to post on one or all of your connected social networks. HootSuite for mobile only allows you to post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare, which levels the playing field a bit. On the flipside, Buffer does not allow you to alter scheduled posts. That can only be accomplished through their desktop site. Both mobile platforms enable you to see stats and metrics on how your posts are performing.
One of the great things about both platforms is that you can schedule posts on your social networks in advance, which as you can imagine, is a great time saver. With Buffer, you can schedule posts on different social media networks to capitalize on the peak usage time for that particular network. Similarly, HootSuite offers an Auto Scheduler which automatically selects the next best time to share a post. However, HootSuite’s bulk scheduler does not offer the same easy-to-use format as Buffer.
Free vs. Paid
Both Buffer and HootSuite offer free accounts which offer less access than their paid or premium accounts. Buffer’s paid “Awesome Plan” allows you to link up to 12 social profiles (keep in mind these are limited to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn but you can manage multiple profiles or pages for each). The Awesome Plan also offers greater flexibility with scheduling, in terms of how many posts you can schedule in advance and what time slots you can schedule those posts (the Free Plan allows you to choose different times and days but not different times for different days). The Awesome Plan also allows you give additional users or team members access to your Buffer account.
HootSuite similarly offers paid “Pro” and “Enterprise” plans. Their free plan allows you to link up to five social networks, which can be limiting if you have a lot of different profiles but is usually sufficient for most businesses. The Pro plan offers up to 50 social networks to be linked as well as enhanced scheduling and reporting capabilities. The Enterprise plan is the highest tier plan, offering unlimited social networks to be linked and up to 500,000(!) team members to have access to your HootSuite account (why anyone would need that many people linked escapes me but I’m sure there’s a need for it out there).
In summation, I think the sole fact that HootSuite allows you to integrate a greater variety social networks than Buffer gives them a leg up. Being able to link your Google+ account alone justifies using HootSuite, as a healthy presence on Google+ can help with SEO and internet marketing in general.
That said, I find the “streams” aspect of HootSuite to be confusing. In HootSuite, you can add different tabs or “streams” for a social network in order for you to track sent messages, messages posted to your wall, retweets, scheduled tweets, etc. I think it’s more my familiarity with how these streams are displayed within that particular network itself that leads to this disconnect. The more one familiarizes themselves with HootSuite’s dashboard, the more sense it starts to make.
When it comes down to it, it’s about finding which platform works best for you and suits your needs. I’ve read a lot about how different individuals or businesses will have both HootSuite and Buffer accounts to capitalize on the benefits offered by both platforms. To me, this seems overly complicated but it may be well worth the spending the time to understand each platform.