Social media has spawned a plethora of management and marketing products, services, and tools to help individuals execute their activities. These tools are used to manage, schedule, listen, curate, report, and automate. On the one hand, you have several all-in-one services that handle all the essential functions, for example, Hootsuite and AgoraPulse. On the other hand, you have single or dual-purpose applications that concentrate on one or two capabilities, for instance, Post Planner. The two categories of tools make for a competitive marketplace, but customers can lose by choosing the wrong services. Where all-in-one tools may be more than a user needs, single-purpose services can inhibit a person from achieving his or her full social media potential and return on investment. Some single-purpose tools cost more than some comprehensive services, which doesn’t make sense.
Social media sites are superhighways that are perfect for connecting with others, advertising, and building brand awareness. Most business owners will tell you that having a robust social media presence aids expansion and growth. I value social media platforms tremendously such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter because of the traffic flow to my website. In 2013, I went on a hunt for a tool/service that would allow me to manage my social media activities efficiently. I didn’t want to operate from each profile or platform in isolation. Instead, I wanted to conduct my activities from a single dashboard. I found Hootsuite and have been using them since. The following year, I discovered Buffer and used them for a while because of a content curation feature they had but discontinued.
Hootsuite and Buffer make the shortlist for social media management platforms. Both tools enable and empower users to manage activities across multiple platforms from a single dashboard. Both companies offer free accounts with core features. For this comparison, I’ll assess which company provides the best value for their lowest priced plan, i.e., Hootsuite Pro and Buffer Pro.
- Hootsuite – LinkedIn description
Hootsuite is the most widely used social media management platform. We have 16+ million customers and are recognized as a leader in social media management by Forrester, one of the most influential research and advisory firms in the world. Our battle-tested technology, extensive ecosystem, and social DNA help organizations create human connections at scale.
- Buffer – LinkedIn description
Buffer is an intuitive, streamlined social media management platform trusted by brands, businesses, agencies, and individuals to help drive meaningful engagement and results on social media. We have a suite of products for publishing, engagement, analytics, and team collaboration. Our products are carefully considered and highly refined to help social media marketers and teams work more efficiently and effectively.
1) Number of Profiles You Can Connect – Winner: Hootsuite
- Hootsuite: up to ten profiles.
- Buffer: up to eight profiles.
2) Directly Supported Networks – Winner: Hootsuite
- Hootsuite: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Google+.
- Buffer: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.
3) Apps, Integrations, and Partners – Winner: Hootsuite
- Hootsuite: 250+ apps, which are accessible mainly through its app directory.
- Buffer: 70+ apps, which are accessible externally.
4) User Interface – Winner: Buffer
- Hootsuite: bulky and can get confusing.
- Buffer: clean and minimalistic.
5) Content Curation – Winner: Hootsuite
Content curation is the act of discovering, gathering, and presenting digital content that surrounds specific subject matter.
- Hootsuite: find, add, and share content instantly or schedule via web and mobile apps. Stream and share content by hashtag, location, or keyword. Share content stored in your cloud service. Automatically post content from RSS feeds, and use apps to post content on your behalf. Gather content from any webpage with the “Hootlet” browser extension, then post or schedule (without having to log in to your social accounts). Bulk upload and edit content to save time.
- Buffer: find and add content to your queue using their web app, mobile app, browser extension, and apps. Manually add RSS feed content or use a combination of apps (an additional cost) to send content from RSS automatically feeds to your queue. Bulk upload and edit content to save time.
6) Content Promotion – Winner: Hootsuite
- Hootsuite: Set custom rules for objective, audience, budget, and duration to automatically boost your top-performing content. Shift your strategy to where organic and paid work together.
- Buffer: does not offer.
7) Scheduling and Automation – Winner: Tie
- Hootsuite: automatically and manually schedule posts via the web, mobile, and Hootlet apps. Set the days and times when messages can be automatically posted (via AutoSchedule). Bulk schedule hundreds of posts at once (up to 350 posts per profile). Customize how often RSS feeds are checked and how many new posts are sent.
- Buffer: posts in your queue will be sent automatically according to the posting schedule that you put in place. Each social media account can have up to 100 posts in the queue. Bulk schedule through an external app (maximum number of posts per profile is uncertain). Automatically send content from RSS feeds to your queue.
8) Social Monitoring and Listening – Winner: Hootsuite
- Hootsuite: find and filter social conversations by keyword, hashtag, and location—in multiple languages—to hear what people are saying about your brand, competitors, and industry. Capture more conversations with a wide selection of monitoring apps, letting you do everything from reviewing site ratings to tracking the tone of voice for your brand.
- Buffer: not available in the pro plan. However, Buffer does offer social monitoring through Reply, a separate product.
9) Analytics & Reporting – Winner: Hootsuite
- Hootsuite: create and export custom reports that show your results with Hootsuite social media analytics. Get a clear, concise snapshot of your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter activities to track trends and measure growth in real-time. Access the most extensive collection of social analytics integrations and apps available, including LiftMetrix, Klarity Analytics, Crowd Analyzer, and others.
- Buffer: general social analytics. Track engagement and interactions on the posts you’ve shared, so you can see how your content is performing across all your social accounts. App integration with Rival IQ. Users must upgrade to access advanced social analytics, and Buffer is developing a separate product called Buffer Analyze.
10) Team Members – Winner: Tie
- Hootsuite: must upgrade to the team plan to add users.
- Buffer: must upgrade to the small business plan to add users.
11) Ad Campaigns – Winner: Hootsuite
- Hootsuite: can upgrade to access Hootsuite Ads and AdEspresso. Then, create, manage, and optimize your Facebook and Instagram advertising.
- Buffer: does not offer.
11) User Training – Winner: Tie
- Hootsuite: blog, courses, webinars, resources, team training, podcast, research studies, and Hootsuite academy.
- Buffer: blog, guides, tutorials, case studies, webinars, and FAQs.
13) Plans – Winner: Tie
- Hootsuite: five different plans including free, pro, team, business, and enterprise.
- Buffer: five different plans including free, pro, small, medium, large, and enterprise.
14) Pricing – Winner: Hootsuite
- Hootsuite: a free 30-day trial and prices starting from $19 a month (billed annually) or $29 paid monthly.
- Buffer: a free 7-day trial and prices starting at $12.75 a month (billed annually) or $15 paid monthly.
Hootsuite delivers the whole enchilada. They cover managing, publishing, scheduling, listening, curating, automating, ad management, analytics, and reporting. They continue to innovate, acquire companies, and add features. For example, they recently introduced a content promotion feature to boost your top-performing content on Facebook automatically. Buffer is primarily a publishing and scheduling service that provides general analytics and reporting. Where Hootsuite wraps everything in one application, Buffer has separate applications, for example, Buffer, Reply, and Analyze. It may make sense to Buffer to spread itself thin across a few apps, but I prefer a less is more approach and one place to manage my activities.
Hootsuite is more robust in a couple of critical areas such as content curation and reporting. Hootsuite has manual and automatic processes for a 24/7 social media presence. By contrast, Buffer requires third-party apps to automate—which cost extra—and bulk schedule. Again, execution with Buffer relies on apps that are somewhere else. Secondly, analytics and reporting with Hootsuite are excellent from high-level to custom reports. Buffer is lacking in this area and working on a solution, Analyze, that likely won’t carry over to their pro plan. Unfortunately, Buffer pro users must accept insufficient reporting.
Hootsuite Pro is a powerful, all-in-one social media management tool whereas Buffer Pro is limited to publishing, scheduling, and some automation. For a few extra dollars a month, you will get a comprehensive solution with Hootsuite to succeed on social media. For more features, check out Hootsuite’s other plans. Alternatively, Post Planner does most of what Buffer can do for much less ($11 vs. $15).