A weird little icon popped up on my Twitter.com page the other day.
One click later, I was scanning a new social network management tool called Buffer. Have you heard of social media management? If you’ve ever wondered how some people seem to be online all the time, and wonder how the heck they actually do their day jobs, social network management tools are the answer.
Why a social network management tool is essential for developing an online presence
If you do more than one social network (I do Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) then you should consider a tool to manage your presence on all of the networks. Consider some of the benefits:
- Good tools help you to consolidate all of your publishing activity into a single destination.
- Most offer a scheduling function, which keeps your presence active and eliminates the need to login constantly to post something.
- Most offer tracking data, to see how many people are clicking your links.
For around two years, I’ve been using Hootsuite. But after one day on Buffer, I was a convert. Here are 6 reasons I switched:
1. Hootsuite Has Unnecessary Features
Hootsuite offers the ability to read posts and updates from Facebook, Twitter, and so on. This was great initially but I’ve discovered over time that without the full feature set of the network sites themselves, I have been opting to visit Facebook.com and Twitter.com anyway, so the ability to read these sites on Hootsuite no longer matters.
In recent months the only thing I’ve been using on Hootsuite is the publishing feature.
2. Buffer Makes Publishing Easy
Buffer doesn’t offer the ability to consolidate feeds from all of your social networks. Instead, it focuses on one thing: publishing. And it does it very well, with automatic url shrinking, thumbnail and description posting for Facebook and LinkedIn, and an easy ability to select / deselect networks.
3. Buffer Has a Killer Scheduling Feature
Here’s where it gets good. Users can create independent publishing schedules for each network, which is vital. Consider:
- The average Facebook posts might last 4-6 hours. Reposting the same content more than once is not helpful and in some cases might be annoying.
- The average Twitter post might last 1 hour. Reposting the same content is standard protocol.
Each network behaves differently, and with Buffer I can set up schedules that make sense. Here is my Twitter publishing schedule on Buffer. Notice how I post several times every day, and skip Sundays. Five is standard for me, but sometimes I’ll post something additional, which you can easily do with the “Send Now” option.
Although sometimes I post immediately, most of the time to publish I click “Buffer,” and my post goes into the next available slot. Later, I have the ability to move scheduled posts around with a simple drag and drop interface. You can schedule up to 10 for free.
4. Buffer has Better and More Accessible Analysis
Hootsuite analysis is buried in reports. Buffer’s is right on top as one of four core navigation options. Each post, on each network, offers clicks, shares, favorites, and so on, depending on the network, with a vital new stat: Potential. For example, although my Twitter count is still small (but growing) at 680, notice what happened to my Potential last night when some friends with large followerships retweeted a recent post.
5. Buffer Has Much Better Design
Hootsuite has a lot of columns. The type is squeezed in. It’s a little hard on the eyes. This is part of the reason I quit reading it. Buffer, on the other hand, has a clean, wide open interface. It doesn’t try to offer everything. It just does publishing, and really well.
6. Buffer integrates with Twitter.com and Feedly.com, and increasingly with blogs and other destinations online
This was the tipping point. Using the weird little Twitter icon, I can now retweet anything I like with the added benefit of publishing to my other networks and the confidence that it’s going to post at a good time. No more copying, pasting and counting Twitter characters. Now I can quickly scan my RSS reader and social networks, and share with a single click. Productivity!
The one downside at this point is that Buffer’s mobile app is dated. I hope an update is coming soon.
What is your favorite social management tool, and why?