Any business owner will tell you that having a robust social media presence is essential for expansion and growth. I value the social channel tremendously in particular YouTube and Facebook because of the traffic that flows through them. For example, in one internet minute, 2.78M views occur on YouTube while Facebook experiences 701K+ logins. In other words, social media equates to superhighways of people to present information, products, and opportunities.
Way back in 2013, it was during my social media marketing infancy that I went on a hunt for a tool/service that would allow me to manage my activities more efficiently. I didn’t care to operate from each profile in isolation, I wanted to conduct my activities from a central platform. I discovered Hootsuite and have been using them since.
The following year I found Buffer and created an account. Although I had a Hootsuite Pro account, Buffer offered a critical feature, “Suggestions,” with a free account while Hootsuite offered the same for a premium on top of the monthly pro user fee (the feature is now free with a Pro account). Buffer eventually terminated Suggestions which led me to terminate my account.
4 Benefits of Social Media Management Tools
- Centralized control – manage all your social media activities and marketing from one place for efficiency and convenience.
- Increased productivity through scheduling – automate some or all of your activities and leverage optimal posting time algorithms.
- Analytics – get insights and engagement data from your social media profiles to enhance your strategic decision-making and sales prospects.
- Team involvement – add employees and outsourced personnel to your account to help manage your social media efforts.
Hootsuite and Buffer make the shortlist of social media management tools for entrepreneurs, small, and large businesses. The essence of both is to enable and empower social media users to conduct activities across multiple platforms from one central interface or dashboard. Both offer free accounts with limited features, but for this comparison, we’ll assess which company offers the most value for $10 a month i.e. Hootsuite Pro vs. Buffer Awesome.
I’m not going to discuss items such as UI, layout, color scheme and related that affect personal preferences, rather, I’m going to focus on value-added features that will optimize your social media activities.
Number of Social Profiles
Depending on how omnipresent you are or desire to be, you may have a narrow social media strategy focused on a few profiles or an extensive focus on many. Hootsuite allows you to connect up to 50 profiles whereas Buffers allows up to ten. I currently have nine profiles linked to Hootsuite, and I imagine the additional room may come in handy someday.
Both services link to the big three in Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Furthermore, connectivity to Google+ Pages (not personal profiles) is also available for the one or two people who still use it. Hootsuite allows for direct connectivity to the all-important YouTube and Instagram platforms (how to post on Instagram from your PC) while Buffer counters with direct connectivity to female-centric Pinterest.
Integrations & Apps
Hootsuite offers 160+ free and paid apps through its app directory found within its dashboard including YouTube, Tumblr, VK, and other well-established software applications. Buffer’s 58 apps are found externally of its panel on a web page with Zapier being the most important one. Zapier is a third party app that connects 50+/- apps to Buffer with several useful apps listed.
Both platforms offer advanced/auto and optimal scheduling based on research regarding the best times to post on different networks. As mentioned, Hootsuite offers “Suggestions” which discovers, curates, and posts compelling content based on user parameters. This is a handy feature which allows users to schedule content other than theirs as a pipeline fill for a content diversification approach. Buffer has since terminated.
By far the most critical and decisive feature in the Hootsuite vs. Buffer debate surrounds bulk scheduling. Hootsuite allows users to schedule up to 350 posts via an excel spreadsheet. Bulk scheduling on Buffer is possible through two apps and tops out at 100 posts. Hootsuite gains a significant advantage here as I use this function religiously to upload hundreds of tweets and posts weekly to my various profiles. This marketing automation functionality gives me presence around the clock which is highly desirable.
If you manage a small team or outsource and want them to participate in social media activities, you can add up to 10 users with Hootsuite and zero with Buffer.
Analytics & Reporting
I’m not an analytics geek regarding social media, but I know many users find this information valuable. Basic analytics and customizable reporting is available through Hootsuite, but not available through Buffer’s Awesome plan.
Free Trial Period
Hootsuite offers a free 30-day trial to Buffer’s seven days (Buffer does provide 30-days for more expensive plans).
I must admit that Buffer’s dashboard is cleaner and less clunky looking a la Apple versus Hootsuite’s heavy feeling and desolate ascetics a la PC. However, I prefer Hootsuite’s robust and driven business approach to Buffer’s boy scout approach. Buffer has overdone it on transparency to the point where they believe it’s necessary to showcase their employees’ salaries to the world. This doesn’t make any sense, but I would appreciate this measure for internal human resources purposes.
Given the factors reviewed and scored, I firmly believe Hootsuite is a better social media management tool and investment than Buffer.