Can you imagine trying to Tweet every hour? Manually posting all your blog updates to Facebook? Or remembering to Instagram each day? Here's an insider tip: savvy marketers don't do this at all. They use a social media management app to schedule and automate their posts. With just an hour or so of work, your social networks can virtually update themselves.
No dedicated blogger or small business owner can be expected to keep up with a social media marketing plan on top of everything else that's needed to run a successful website. Let's break down two of the most popular social marketing automation apps—Buffer and Hootsuite, to help you determine which app is right for you.
Hootsuite is a comprehensive social media management platform. From the Hootsuite dashboard, you can schedule your posts, research trending topics, keep an eye on your competition and view analytics.
ou can manage your various networks by adding tabs with "streams"—which may contain posts to your profile, replies or hashtags you've set up. You can bulk schedule posts by importing formatted spreadsheets, or you can add and schedule posts individually right from the dashboard.
Hootsuite's dashboard is remarkably comprehensive—which is it's strength and weakness. The tools and analytics are all very powerful and well worth the price of an upgraded plan, but may be overkill for a small business or blogger. Plans range from a limited free plan to plans for large teams and businesses. The Pro plan is the best value, and packed with features at around $10/month. Here's the breakdown:
- Platforms supported on the free plan: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Instagram (you choose three)
- Platforms supported on the paid plan: Any fifty profiles from those networks.
- Posting limitations: Schedule posts from the dashboard for free, bulk import/schedule posts with a paid plan
The beauty of Buffer is that you fill a—well, buffer of posts to any of your networks. The app automatically publishes your posts from your buffer at regular intervals and optimal times, so while you're browsing the web, or posting to your blog, you can fill up your queue.
Buffer is simple, intuitive, and offers a browser extension — with a single click, you can queue up any content you find and want to share. You can set a daily schedule for each profile posting, if you prefer to post on regular intervals.
Or let Buffer analyze your profile and figure out the best time for your posts to go out.
The free plan may be just enough for you to get by, but if you need to manage multiple profiles on the same network (your personal and business Facebook page, for example), the Awesome Plan is also priced around $10/month, and offers more flexibility and features.
- Platforms supported on the free plan: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus
- Platforms supported on the paid plan: All the above plus Pinterest. (Up to twelve profiles)
- Posting limitations: With the free plan, you can buffer up to ten posts per profile, but that number goes to 200 with the first tier of the paid plan
So how to choose Buffer vs. Hootsuite?
Determine your needs
It's entirely possible that a free solution will meet all your social media marketing needs. If that's the case, it will likely come down to which social networks are supported by which social media management app. For example, if Instagram is critical for your brand Hootsuite is definitely the way to go.
Beyond that, the majority of small businesses, entrepreneurs and bloggers will be able to comfortably use the $10/month plan for either.
How many users or team members do you need to support?
With a paid buffer plan, you can have two team members working on the same account. This is in case both you and your office manager (or college roommate, or grandson) are working on posts for your social marketing efforts. Hootsuite has the same features, but additional users are billed on top of the monthly fee.
Buffer vs. Hootsuite: How much training will you need?
Buffer is slick, no doubt, but Hootsuite comes with access to a library of marketing articles in case you're interested in leveling up your game. You can try out their Hootsuite University for training, with a free trial. You can even become certified in social media (using their app, of course).
Buffer is intuitive enough that you should be able to sign in and get started, but if you plan on falling deeper down the marketing rabbit hole, Hootsuite is the way the go. Finding a solution to manage your social media can take the daily task of updating your networks off your to-do list—and that's a huge productivity boost.
Social media marketing is now imperative for any business operating on the internet, so it's to your advantage to make the most of it. Whichever app you go with, take the time to learn and understand the features, and find a schedule to create and update your content that works for your business. After all, the idea is that you stop working so hard to update your profiles, and your profiles start working hard for you.