When I talk to business owners about their social media, scheduling is probably their biggest challenge. Automation is a key ingredient in any well-planned social strategy. Automation makes you more efficient, saves time and helps relieve the burden of posting to multiple social accounts at one time.
Therefore, when I began my research for this blog, I decided that a comprehensive comparison between the two most popular scheduling tools, Hootsuite and Buffer, would be valuable. What follows is what I learned. I used these four sources as the foundation of my research: LinkHumans, Clearvoice , Capterra and Jeff Bullas.
Apples to Apples?
One of the most surprising things I learned is that in comparing Hootsuite and Buffer, you are not really comparing apples to apples. Buffer is primarily a platform for scheduling social media posts. Hootsuite also allows you to schedule posts. However, the full set of features that Hootsuite offers really falls under the umbrella of social media management. Hootsuite also allows you to respond to comments in the social media stream directly AND you are able to create streams around multiple keywords to “listen” more effectively to social conversations. Which do you need? What would be better for where you are at now in your social engagement?
Both platforms allow for team scheduling and their pricing tiers are comparable.
Supported Networks for Scheduling
Looking at the table below, there are only slight differences in terms of which social networks each one supports:
|Facebook profile||Facebook profile|
|Facebook page||Facebook page|
|Facebook groups||Facebook groups|
|LinkedIn profile||LinkedIn profile|
|LinkedIn page||LinkedIn page|
|Google+ page||Google+ page|
What you need to consider here is which accommodates the profiles you are currently posting to and want to be posting to in the next six to twelve months. If you have a plan to develop more profiles, this is an important comparison to keep in mind.
Ease of Use
This is an easy comparison. Hands-down, the Buffer interface is more streamlined and intuitive. However, keep in mind that the Hootsuite interface is more robust in offering more options — particularly responding to/commenting on the stream in real time and adding streams for listening. Therefore, the Hootsuite dashboard is more complicated and can be overwhelming.
It really comes down to how you intend to use the tools. Are you just interested in scheduling posts or is interacting in real time important to your brand? Is listening to the broader conversation around keywords and terms important to your business? Is your overall strategy more comprehensive or more niche?
Because Buffer is primarily a publishing and scheduling tool, it only gives you analytics for the posts that you schedule through Buffer. That means that content you post natively on the platform or through another tool won’t appear in Buffer.
Hootsuite offers you analytics of all your social networks. The analytics give you feedback on the content you post, how social networks are performing, your social traffic and more.
That said, if you use bit.ly links and then post on Buffer or Hootsuite, the best place to get stats for the links is on bit.ly.
Another option is to add tracking codes at the end of the URL. This is especially useful if you are running a campaign or linking back to your site. The codes allow Google Analytics to show you how those links are performing for each site you’ve posted on, including through your blog or newsletter.
For more information and how to, click here
Integration vs Automation
Warning: it’s complicated! These two functions are similar but different. Integration means that the platform works together with other applications to give you more variety in function. Automation means that you can put some tasks on autopilot. They both save time, but in different ways. Have I lost you yet?
Both Buffer and Hootsuite have a number of plugins and extensions that you can install and use on your personal browsers and favorite apps. You can easily share content through these extensions, even if you’re in another social platform.
You can use Buffer to schedule a queue of posts, on Facebook and Twitter for example, then walk away. Based on proprietary algorithms, Buffer will decide when to post. Better yet, Buffer also offers a variety of options for social automation, including IFTTT and Zapier, which help you automatically post and set triggers based on “if-this-then-that” parameters that you specify.
Hootsuite has a much bigger list of tools and applications it integrates with. While that doesn’t necessarily help you automate, it can save you time having several tools under one roof. You can find out more about these applications in the Hootsuite App Directory.
At the end of the day, you need to go back to your strategy and look at what you are trying to accomplish. For most small business owners who are adding social media to their many other hats, Buffer is your best solution. It covers the basics of what you need to do and is simpler to use.
Medium businesses to enterprise users who have a marketing team or agencies that are managing multiple social accounts should be using Hootsuite. It is a more comprehensive solution, able to give you more useful analytics and shorten your response time for customer service issues.