Wednesday, July 31, 2013

HootSuite versus Buffer

     


















HootSuite is the tool I have used to organize my social media life for a couple of years. The site allows me to view my Twitter feed in organized columns (called "streams").

Reading content from everyone I follow would be overwhelming. HootSuite allows me to create "streams" so that the tweets from the people I care about most will be in one easy-to-read stream. No searching through a lengthy list to find what really matters to me.

Those select people whose content I always want to read appear in a column I call "Inner Circle." Columns called "Priority 2" and "Priority 3" display tweets from those whose content I would like to read, but not as much as those in the "Inner Circle." According to how much time is available, I can read only the "Inner Circle," or read the other two columns as well.

HootSuite is the winner and the tool I will continue to use for both reading and composing social media content. Other columns display tweets where people have mentioned me or retweeted my content. Still other columns track conversation on hashtags I am following, such as upcoming conferences. I also see a stream containing tweets I have sent and those scheduled for the future. HootSuite allows me to create columns where I can read content from Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google Plus. I could actually read all of my social media content without leaving HootSuite.

While HootSuite comes in handy for reading material, it is a great tool for composing content. I can create one post and choose whether to send it to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, or any combination, and do it all from one place. Furthermore, I can schedule any of the content to post in three different ways:
  • I can post post now.
  • I can specify a future date and time for content to post.
  • I can turn on "Autoschedule." HootSuite will decide on a date and time for each of the social media networks I have selected and post my content accordingly.



Enter Buffer
Buffer is another tool to help with posting content. Specifically, it allows you to spread your posting throughout the day. 

I typically read the posts from my favorite blogs during a block of time. I make decisions at that point about those articles I want to share with others through social media networks. If I were to post each one immediately, readers who see a flurry of content from me and then nothing for the rest of the day. Buffer allows the user to create a daily schedule of when content will be posted. You can even have one schedule for Twitter, another for Facebook, and another for LinkedIn.


Buffer is similar to HootSuite's "Autoschedule" feature, only with Buffer, I determine the schedule. If I decide I want to post 4 times daily on Twitter at 9:00, 11:00, 2:00, and 3:00 while posting on Facebook at 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM, I simply compose the schedule and let Buffer handle the rest.

When I read content and want to share it, one click allows me to post to Buffer. Buffer automatically assigns the content to the next available time slot. I am not overwhelming readers with too much content at once.

Buffer's New Enhancement
HootSuite has given me the ability to do one thing that Buffer had been unable to do--schedule content for a certain day and time. If I had a set of quotes and wanted one to appear daily at 8:00 AM, HootSuite would allow this; Buffer would not not.

Buffer has made news in the last several days because it now gives users the ability to put some content in the Buffer while choosing a specific day and time for other messages. Buffer how has the same three capabilities as HootSuite. So, which one is better, HootSuite or Buffer?

The Battle is On
Suppose I am adding a quote-a-day and want those quotes to appear on both Twitter and Facebook. I found entry on Buffer to be easier. 



First, once I had selected which social networks to which the quotes should post, Buffer remembered that selection from quote to quote. Not having to re-select the social networks each time is a plus.

Secondly, when I click the clock icon to choose a date and time, Buffer remembers the last date I selected and presents me with a calendar which is already scrolled that date. If the current month is July and I am posting quotes for August, I do not have to change the calendar from "July" to "August" for each new entry.

When reading an article I want to share with others, the steps to posting are virtually the same whether I am using HootSuite or Buffer. A button for each resides on my browser's toolbar. Clicking that button opens a box. The title of the article and URL are already completed. All I have to do is add my own comment and either post now, schedule the post for the future, or click "Autoschedule" (if using Hootsuite) or "Buffer" (if using Buffer).

Feedly is the service I use to collect the new posts from the blogs I like and present them to me in one place. As I am reading an article from within Feedly and want to share it, Feedly includes a button which allows me to post to Buffer. To post to HootSuite, I must first click the article to open it on its original site before clicking the "Hootlet" button on my browser's toolbar. I then close the article and return to Feedly to continue reading. HootSuite, therefore, requires a few more clicks of the mouse. 

The Deal-Breaker
To this point, Buffer seemed to me to hold a slight edge. I could see myself using HootSuite to read material and Buffer to post material. Two points, however, swung my decision towards using HootSuite exclusively.

HootSuite allows me to post to Twitter, my personal Facebook account, my professional Facebook account, LinkedIn, or Google Plus. With a "Basic" account, I can post to as many as five social media accounts. I found that Buffer would allow me to post to three social media networks only. If I wanted more, I had to upgrade to the "Awesome Account."

Secondly, Buffer has a limit of 10 scheduled posts at any one time. I found this out the hard way--when I had scheduled 10 posts and tried to schedule number 11. You have to upgrade to the "Awesome Account" to schedule more.

My Decision
In my mind, HootSuite is the winner and the tool I will continue to use for both reading and composing social media content. I get the ability to schedule as much future content as I like and post to more social media networks. Of course, I welcome Buffer's new capabilities. The competition between the major players simply forces each to continue to up its game.

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