HootSuite vs. Buffer for the Heavyweight Championship

Mike Allton
Mike Allton Internet Marketing Consultant, The Social Media Hat

Posted on June 4th 2013

HootSuite vs. Buffer for the Heavyweight Championship
HootSuite versus Buffer social media management

One question that has come up a lot recently from readers is why I use both HootSuite and Buffer. Isn't one better than the other? I hope you won't be too surprised to learn that there actually are good reasons for using both services, and in fact, I use the paid versions of both! While they may both fall within the category of "Social Media Management Software" I think you'll find that there are stark differences and benefits to each.

Before we get into how I use each service, let's compare and contrast some of the key aspects that may determine for some whether or not the service is useful.

Round One: Social Network Support

Buffer

Buffer supports personal Facebookprofiles as well as business Facebook Pages. It also supports multiple Twitteraccounts as well as personal LinkedInprofiles, LinkedIn Company Pages and LinkedIn Groups. For the one million App.net users, you can use Buffer too.

HootSuite

HootSuite on the other hand has an even wider net. HootSuite supports Facebook profiles and Pages, as well as multiple Twitter accounts. It supports LinkedIn profiles and also LinkedIn Company Pages and LinkedIn Groups. HootSuite also supports Google+Pages, but not personal profiles. Foursquare, Wordpress, MySpaceand Mixi can be connected as well.

Round Two: Mobile Support

Buffer

Buffer has an app that allows you to view scheduled posts, as well as past posts (posts via Buffer). When looking at past posts you also have access to metrics for each post. Additionally, the app gives you the ability to post to one or all of your connected accounts, either immediately or added to each network's queue.

The Buffer app does not allow you to modify your schedule for each connected network and instead refers you to the website, which is not mobile optimized. Buffer does provide a bookmarklet that you can add that can be used to "bookmark" a website and add it to your Buffer. Buffer also sports tight integration with other apps like Feedly.

HootSuite

HootSuite also has an app, and similarly, there are limitations. Most striking is the reduction of social network support, as the HootSuite app currently only supports Facebook profiles and Pages, Twitter accounts, personal LinkedIn accounts and Foursquare. Connected social networks are managed within the app, and are independent of your web account.

The HootSuite app enables posting to all supported networks as well as monitoring of each connected network. For instance, if you have a Twitter account connected, you can view your own Sent Tweets, your Tweets that have been retweeted, your Direct Messages and your Mentions. You can also connect the main stream for each network so you can see what your connections are posting about.

The app allows you to search Twitter, and also displays Tending Topics and your recent searches.

There is a Stats tab within the app that is specifically for connected Twitter accounts. Selecting an account will show you recent tweets and you can tap one to see how many clickthroughs that tweet received and when.

A Contacts tab provides access to Twitter contacts for each connected Twitter account.

How I Use Buffer

I have connected my personal Twitter account and my company Twitter account, as well as my Facebook profile, Facebook Page and LinkedIn profile. I have different schedules set up for each network, based on the peak usage times for each. My Facebook Page, for instance, has a 2:30pm CST timeslot, whereas my personal LinkedIn profile has a schedule of 7am and 5pm each day.

What do I share? It's a combination of my best past articles and other people's articles that I find from time to time. Using the Buffer extension for my Chrome browser, I will regularly go through some of my past articles and add them to my queue, formatting and adjusting as needed. I often find other great articles using Scoop.it or Feedly, but I don't want to share five articles at once, even if they're all good, so I Buffer them and rest assured that they will be shared at appropriate times.

I also use Buffer to sprinkle in plugs for my business. It's OK to talk about yourself and your business on social media! You are there to promote yourself, after all. You just have to make sure that most of what you're doing is sharing information and connecting with others. So, I regularly add links to some of my landing pages, like Blog Coaching Services, and let Buffer make sure that they're shared to my networks, yet spaced out enough so as not to be overwhelming.

It's important to understand here that Buffer is not automating my social media activity. I am creating each post and crafting it according to each network - Buffer just ensures that the post is published at an appropriate time. This gives you the freedom to plan ahead, as well as not worry about whether or not you have something posted each day during your networks peak time of activity.

How I Use HootSuite

HootSuite on the other hand, doesn't have the same easy to use scheduler. You can create individual posts and schedule them, but you have to specifically choose a date and time, and then that post will be posted to every network selected at that time. HootSuite does offer a bulk scheduler, but to use it you have to fight with an Excel spreadsheet, and options are limited.

What HootSuite does have that works extremely well is an Auto Scheduler. What's different is that you can create a post, select one or more networks, and then HootSuite will automatically select the next best time to share that post. And if you choose more than one network, it selects a different time for each network so that you're not blasting all your networks at the same time.

Generally, I have different posts and activity on each of my networks, but when I have a new blog post to share, I do share that to every network. This is where HootSuite comes in particularly useful for me. Once I have published a new article, I manually share that post to my personal Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. I do that so that I can tailor the post for each network, particularly Google+, where I encourage and receive a lot of engagement. I then use HootSuite (desktop) to share that new post to each of my branded accounts - The Social Media Hat on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter, and all of the posts are spaced out.

For me, I use my "personal brand" to connect and engage more than my "company brand" but how you use social media may be a bit different, particularly if you're a larger business. If you're not sure the best way to communicate your own brand and want help with social media, let me know.

I also use HootSuite on my iPhone when I am out of the office, but want to share something to multiple networks. This is typically short announcements or breaking stories.

Even more important is HootSuite's built in reporting, which is extremely powerful. You can build custom reports that provide great insight into how your individual networks are performing, and have those reports automatically generated and emailed to you regularly. The most typical is a ow.ly click summary. Links sent through HootSuite are shrunk using the HootSuite shortened link service ow.ly, and you can then see exactly how often a specific link was clicked, no matter where or how often that link was shared.

The Decision

So for me, Buffer and HootSuite both serve different and vital roles in my online presence and activity. Buffer ensures that my shared posts are spread out and timed perfectly, while HootSuite provides easier management of my company accounts and in depth metrics. They're both well worth the $10 a month price tag.

Both services have free packages that are understandably limited, mostly in the number of social networks that you can connect. If your business has a presence on all of the major networks as I do, you will want to invest in the upgraded packages. You can try HootSuite for free for a month here.

What questions do you have regarding either of these services? Let me know if you need help getting started, particularly with HootSuite which offers additional corporate-grade services like Teams for those who are interested. If you use a different social media management service, what is it and why?

Image courtesy of Eric Langley, Flickr.

Mike Allton

Mike Allton

Internet Marketing Consultant, The Social Media Hat

I love to help small businesses and organizations that are interested in using the Internet more effectively. I provide a comprehensive set of consulting services, which include Social Media, Blogging, website development, SEO and Internet marketing.

I started my own website design firm in 2007 when I moved to St. Louis. Though I had been designing websites for years, it was always side jobs and part time gigs until I started my own firm. I now provide professional web development and Internet consulting full time.

For most clients and projects, we start with a new website. The new site is based on the Drupal Content Management System (CMS) platform so that the client may log into their site and add or edit content any time they need to. Each CMS includes a built-in Blog and other content types like FAQs and Testimonials. The CMS also includes a full compliment of SEO and Social Media integration options so that every time they create a new blog entry, that post is automatically shared with search engines like Google and Bing, and can be easily posted to social networks like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

Once we have a great new website in place, I provide my business clients with ongoing marketing advice and assistance. I can tell them exactly what they need to do, or just do it for them, depending on how involved they wish to be. These ongoing activities can include blogging, creating and updating social network profiles, interacting with followers and readers, and managing online advertising campaigns.

I am the editor at The Social Media Hat (http://www.TheSocialMediaHat.com) where I regularly share articles discussing Social Media, SEO, Blogging, Writing, Internet Marketing and Business Technology.

My goal is to ensure that businesses are able to leverage the power and connectivity of the Internet to promote and grow their business. How can I help you with your own business today?

See Full Profile >

Comments

caelanmac
Posted on June 4th 2013 at 12:54PM

While you gave a very good comparison of the features, Mike...who would you declare the winner of the Heavyweight Title?

The belt is only big enough for one.

EJohn
Posted on June 4th 2013 at 8:21PM

Personally, I think Hootsuite wins on this. I have used it for a while and I'm impressed with its overall service and features. Although Buffer also has some exciting features that I would love to use but to me Hootsuite is the best.

In case you are looking for other alternatives (just if you want to have more social media tools to use) maybe this list would help you find what fits in your needs.

https://www.staff.com/blog/list-of-social-media-management-and-monitorin...

Ina Paddubnaya
Posted on August 5th 2013 at 11:03AM

Thanks for the article! I've enjoyed reading it, since I'm familiar with both HootSuite and Buffer. Agree that both tools are good to serve differeent purposes. In HootSuite I liked the analytics feature, but came not to use it that often.  

My choice have been BuzzBundle so far - http://www.link-assistant.com/buzzbundle/. The main pros are YouTube, blogs and forums integration, convenient interface, plus searching for any brand mentions across the web. 

 

 

 

John O'Riordain
Posted on October 10th 2013 at 8:18AM

I'll agree with Ina. I have recently switched to BuzzBundle and haven't look back since.

Verobelize
Posted on September 10th 2013 at 10:16AM

I'm new in those matters. But I wanted to thank you as your article is well written. I have more to learn and being a small business I want only one either buffer or hootsuite. I run a tourism office and I post any link related to the small country Belize Where I live and work. I want to add link with Pinterest tumblr and more but those I can't add in hootsuite or buffer ...is there any app where I can regulated all posts ?

which one do you think will be better for my business?

any info you like to share will be welcome.

thanks. 

(if you need info about vacation in Belize I can help in return)

promod
Posted on September 27th 2013 at 11:59AM

I wish BufferApp had smart scheduling rather than using fixed times. I wish HootSuite allowed us to limit the number of updates per account per day. 

For fixed-time scheduling, try GrabInbox (grabinbox.com) from the JustUnfollow team. You get unlimited accounts and an unlimited buffer. It's also free. Development seems to have stalled but the service works. 

I use GrabInbox to provide a baseline of updates and HootSuite AutoSchedule for more timely activity. This combination may work for you. 

Jeremiller
Posted on December 2nd 2013 at 1:03PM

Hi Mike.

 

We currently use Hootsuite and so far have been impressed with one major issue, publishing to Linkedin groups. They currently have issues providing the same character limit and link preview/thumbnail image ability you get when you post natively.

Our presence relies heavily on multiple groups on Linkedin to engage adult learners as we are a higher ed institution. As the head of social media I'm establishing a governance and promoting more involvement in social media using Hootsuite so to not provide this capability significantly handicaps me.

Any ideas?

Social Euphoria
Posted on March 18th 2014 at 5:53PM

Great article... definitely can see myself adding Buffer to my arsenal and making use of both services. Thanks for sharing!