My Review of Buffer, a Social Media Manager

Managing multiple social media accounts is a pain.  It takes a lot of time, even more work, and not a small amount of creativity.  Doing it manually is next to impossible – or it is if you ever want to create art again.  Thankfully there’s Buffer.

What Is Buffer?

Buffer is a social media scheduler that handles Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, and to some extent Instagram (no platform can really schedule Instagram).  I don’t know many artists who can hire social media managers so think of Buffer as digital social media manager.  Instead of actually going to all your social media sites several times a day, you go to Buffer.com and manage all your accounts from there.  Buffer lets you schedule all of your accounts, just like you can schedule your Facebook Page posts.  This includes personal profiles and groups, not just Pages & company profiles.

 

Why Schedule?

To save time and to grow your audience!  You only can only grow your audiences on social media if you’re actually posting regularly.  To many artists (& galleries) post once in a blue moon & wonder social media does nothing for them.  They bemoan the fact that social media “takes too much time.”  It does unless you vow to ‘work smarter not harder’ (my personal motto).  Declare Social Media Monday.  Spend a few hours on during every Monday & schedule an entire week’s worth of posts to all your accounts.  During the week you need only keep an eye on notifications for each app (to reply to comments & such).

 

Why I started to use Buffer:

When I decided to get serious about social media, finding something to help manage all my accounts was a priority.  I started with Hootsuite because it was free and I found it first.  It’s a great tool and I used it for a while.  But then I decided to start tweeting more than 2-3 times a day.  That’s where Hootsuite fell apart.  The one feature I really wanted was only available to Enterprise clients. There’s no way I could afford an Enterprise account (which you have to make an appointment just to get a quote).

What feature was that?  The ability to see all (or most) of my previous tweets so I can easily reschedule them.  On Twitter, you repeat yourself a lot. So being able to do that easily is important.  I know a lot of people use Excel to set up their tweets & then copy/paste.  That seemed to miss the point of a scheduler.  Why do I need two programs to do one thing??  Besides, Excel doesn’t tell me how well any of those tweets did so again, it seemed, well, like a stupid system.

 

I Made The Switch Before My Trial Expired:

Buffer has several plans to choose from.  The ‘Individual Plan’ is free and allows you to connect one account from each supported social media platforms.  But, it didn’t give me that one feature I wanted.

The “Awesome Plan” is $10 a month.  It has that one feature that I needed to make my life easier.  There is a 7-day free trial of the Awesome Plan.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to pay money to do this but a free trial is a free trial.  It was indeed awesome!  I can see all my previous tweets, posts, & pins (I’ll refer to all of those as ‘posts’ here on in) along with analytic data that tells me how well (or poorly) each one did.  I can ‘re-buffer’ (i.e. repost) my old posts with a click of a button.  I can sort my posts based on metrics like reach (how many people saw them), clicks, likes, etc so I can re-buffer the good ones & edit the bad ones.  Before that 7-day trial was up, I was hooked!

In business, not a lot of stuff is free.  Especially if it’s good.  This is the best $10 a month you can spend if you want to be on social media but don’t want to hire someone to do it for you.  

 

Buffer Saves Me Time:

Before I started using a scheduler I would have to log into each platform several times a day to post.  No one has time for that!  Facebook is the only one with a built-in scheduler, but it only works for Pages. If you run a group or have a personal profile where a lot of your “friends” are also clients, you’re out of luck with scheduling. Buffer will save you tremendous amounts of time and keep you focused.

Think about how much time you spend on Facebook when you merely want to post something to your Page.  I know I always get sucked into my feed & time just flies by.  Time I could be using to do art.  Then I realize, after wasting an hour or more on Facebook, that I needed to put stuff on Pinterest, Instagram, etc!  Buffer keeps me in one place, on one tab.  No distractions, no animated cat gifs, no drama.  I log in, do what I have to do, and I can get on with my day.

I’ll admit that the afore mentioned ‘Social Media Monday’ is more of a goal.  I’m basically doing ‘Social Media Mornings’.  I sit down every morning & check my Buffer queues for all my accounts.  I make sure the entire day is filled, through the following morning, and then I can go about my day.  I don’t have to think about social media until the next morning, but I usually check my accounts a night to respond to comments & send ‘thank you’s’ and such. It takes maybe an hour, at the very most.  An hour is vastly superior to the giant time suck managing social media can be otherwise.  Buffer is also vastly easier to use than Hootsuite was so, again, it saves me time.

 

I KNOW Exactly When To Post for Maximum Reach

Buffer has a great built-in tool that tells me exactly what times of the day I should post on all my accounts.  If you’re like most people, you post when you’re logged into your various accounts.  That’s not effective for growing your online audience – or even keeping the audience you have.  Lots of bloggers have articles about the “best times to post” that make sweeping generalizations.  Buffer, on the other hand, looks at your actual followers: where are they in the world?  What times are they on each platform?  It asks you how many times YOU want to post to each account.  Then it determines the times you should be posting so your content as seen by the most people.  No guesswork, no sweeping generalizations.

My Buffer Queue

The picture above shows part of my Buffer Queue for Twitter for the week.  Technically you’re looking at next week’s queue so the slots are empty.  I actually post to Twitter 10 times day but showing the other slots would make the graphic enormous.  Buffer has determined, based on posting 10 times a day, what the best times for me to post are.  These are not sweeping generalizations based on my own time zone.  I have a lot of followers in the UK.  If I only post based on my time zone, EST, I’m not going to grow internationally.  The point of social media, for me, is to get my art in front of as many people as possible, no matter where they are.  Buffer makes this super easy.  The results are easy to measure too.  My followers are growing daily and I can see the analytics for every tweet.

 

Buffer Has Grown My Social Media Accounts Exponentially

I decided to pay for Buffer primarily for Twitter.  In my post on Twitter for Artists, I mentioned that I started on Twitter years ago but basically ignored it.  When I decided to use it, Hootsuite helped but I had problems when I wanted to ramp up my presence on Twitter.  Once I switched to Buffer, my followers on Twitter started growing exponentially.  In my Twitter post, I mentioned that my goal for July 2016 was to hit 500 followers, I did that on July 8. It’s not even the end of August & I have over 1,000 followers.  Could I have done this with Hootsuite?  Maybe, but it would have taken a lot more time, effort, & several other programs & apps.  Who has time for that??

Oh, & one thing I couldn’t do with Hootsuite (that I’m aware of) that I can with Buffer:  I can buffer retweets directly from both desktop & mobile versions of Twitter. You do need to install add-ons (free) but they’re seamless once installed.  Now, when I find a great tweet I want to share, but literally just tweeted something, I can just pop it into my Buffer queue for later!

Have I gained followers on other platforms?  Some, but that’s on me.  If I was using those platforms more regularly I have no doubt they would grow just as easily (except Facebook, but that’s because of Facebook).

 

Analytics & Re-Buffer are AWESOME!

 

My Buffer Analytics for a Twitter Post - My Review of Buffer

The picture above is the analytics data from one of my recent Twitter posts.  As you can see, this post did well (hence the ‘Top Tweet’ in the upper left).  It was seen by 201,000 people because of 2 retweets.  See that hashtag #etsycreativity?  That’s an account that retweets almost anything that uses that hashtag.  I switch up my hashtags based on this little screen.

See that “Re-Buffer” button on the right? If I press that, it would show me a screen where I can make edits or just pop this tweet automatically into the queue.  Done!  Two button clicks.  No copy/pasting.  No guesswork.

 

Awesome Personal Touches:

When one of your tweets gets a huge audience like the one above, they send you an funny ‘congratulations’ email to let you know.  It’s a nice touch.  Their emails always contain an animated .gif of one of their staff members.  I love those little emails.  My husband tries to be excited when I tell him one of my tweets took off, but really, he doesn’t care.  When I I get an email with someone waving, it makes me smile. Silly? Yes, but it’s nice to have a little celebration even if it is an auto-generated email.

By the way, if you mention Buffer or retweet one of their blog posts (& tag them), they comment on your tweet.  Not many companies (large or small) do that, or at least not enough.  It’s a personal touch that makes Buffer feel like a company that isn’t some faceless group wanting to take my money & run.  I like that.

 

Link Shortening is Automatic & Included.  

With Twitter specifically, every character counts so link shortening services are key. If you don’t already use one, like Bit.ly, Buffer has options built in.  If you do use Bit.ly, like I was doing, you can connect your account with Buffer.  All I have to do is copy/paste a full URL and it automatically shortens it via Bit.ly!  I love not having to do anything extra!!

 

Pinterest & Instagram….It’s NOT Awesome.

Ok, so my review of Buffer can’t be all good.

Buffer makes pinning to Pinterest relatively easy.  Hootsuite made me use a separate service for this which had a limited trial before charging.  With Buffer, it’s all built-in.  The annoying thing comes when I want to buffer a pin to Pinterest.  For example, I want to pin a something from my Zazzle store.  I press the Pinterest button, bring up the normal Pinterest screen.  I have the Buffer extension installed on my browser so from there I can just hit the Buffer icon.  BUT I have to copy/paste any description on that pin BEFORE I hit the Buffer button because it will be lost when I get to the Buffer screen.  I hate that with a passion.  I only notice it with Pinterest, none of my other accounts ‘forget’ information.

Instagram is a pain to manage but this one isn’t Buffer’s fault.  Instagram takes the “insta” part of their name seriously.  Buffer & Hootsuite (as well as every other scheduler) handle Instagram in exactly the same way – which is an annoyance in & of itself.  They both say you can schedule but you can’t really schedule.  You still need to be available when it’s time to post.  All you can do is set up your post & Buffer will send you an email with the attached picture at the appointed time.  From there you copy/paste to Instagram.  Really, it’s just a glorified reminder.

Conclusion:

That’s my review of Buffer.  As you can tell, I love it!  Buffer is the single best use of $10 per month aside from Photoshop.  It saves me so much time, reduces stress, and makes me actually want to participate in social media – which as a hermit, is a hard thing to accomplish!  I have time to actually engage my followers.  I don’t have to try and remember how well a post did, I know because I can see 100 of my past posts in the Analytics section for each and every account.  I can sort my prior posts based on several different performance metrics.  I can easily edit old posts before re-buffering them.  I can manage multiple accounts for each social media platform too.  I know have two Twitter accounts (for different websites) and I can easily manage both without needing multiple Buffer accounts.

If you’re looking to save time & reduce stress while growing your social media presence, I can’t recommend Buffer enough!


Agree?  Disagree?  Let me know in the comments below!  Review of Buffer