Buffer has been a staple ingredient in my social media management workflow for a couple of years now. If you’ve not tried it yet, now’s the time!
It’s a simple, free tool that allows users to schedule tweets and posts to other social networks including Facebook (pages and profiles), LinkedIn (profiles, groups and company pages), Google+ (pages only) and App.net. And with yesterday’s announcement that Buffer now has one million users, the future looks bright for the business that Joel started in Birmingham UK in October 2010.
Why would you want to schedule posts?
If you’re anything like me, you don’t spend all day monitoring social media channels. Every once in a while you get a few minutes to read some interesting articles and blogs. And if you see something you’d like to share you know how easy it is to post it to one of your social networks. But if you only send out posts there and then, there’s a risk you could be seen to be spamming your followers with lots of content in one go. And anyone who’s not online at that moment may miss the great content you’d love them to see. By scheduling your posts to drip feed out over the coming hours, you enable your followers to hear from you regularly and you increase the likelihood that they’ll engage with your content.
So, what does Buffer do and how does it work?
In a nutshell, Buffer acts as a holding bay for your social media posts. Rather than sending them out immediately, it puts them to one side and sends them at a later scheduled time. There are two ways to tell Buffer when to publish your posts: there’s an auto-schedule that you configure so posts go out at the times/days when your audience is most likely to be online and there’s a custom schedule which allows you to specify when each individual post should go live.
Unlike some tools like Hootsuite, which only schedules in five minute increments, you can specify the exact time (to the nearest minute) your posts should go out. Buffer also integrates with tools like SocialBro, allowing them to configure your auto-schedule based on audience data collected from the social web. It’s this sort of functionality that gives me confidence that Buffer will send my posts out at the right times of day.
Buffer also provides detailed analytics for each post it sends (with optional link shortening through buff.ly, bit.ly or j.mp) and allows you to reorder or edit scheduled posts if required. I also use the app extension for Buffer in the Chrome browser giving me one click access to schedule posts to any of my social networks.
It’s a freemium model, of course, so there’s also a paid for version of the tool. At $10 per month (or $8.50 on a yearly contract) the Awesome Plan adds extended support for unlimited posts, up to 12 social profiles and allows two team members to manage one Buffer profile.
Of course, there are many other tools that can help you schedule posts in the future, but the superb performance of Buffer and its great customer service means it remains a firm favourite here at Wild Orange Media Towers.