Confused Emoticon

Buffer – A Freemium Social Media Manager

So Many Posts, So Little Time

Confused EmoticonMy business partners and myself are in the process of re-launching a commercial website, TimelessDesignedFurniture.com. To support our website, and help establish our brand, we created pages on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Though we will undoubtedly market some of our products on these social media sites, we will also provide original posts, as well as posts where we will share information mainly on one topic: Design. With this goal in mind, feeding our social media pages with new and interesting information on a daily basis, is a large task. Curating takes time, as well as creating original postings, not to mention posting documents that will create reader involvement.

As my business partners and myself are also involved in other projects, both directly related to TimelessDesignedFurniture.com, as well as other business interests, time becomes a mission critical consideration. Enter the need for an app to help us manage social media. Using this app, we should be able to simultaneously send the same post to all three of our social media pages. In addition, we need the option to send posts “Now”, or schedule them to be sent some time in the near future. Finally, our app must provide analytics on how our posts are doing in a several categories.

I looked at number of social media manager applications, and after some testing, two quickly rose to the top: Buffer and Hootsuite. Both offer freemium versions(free but feature limited, and offering a paid upgrade unlocking all features in the premium versions). For a small company with limited cash flow, freemium apps are a great way to test an application, before making a financial commitment to the Pro, Awesome, Epic, etc titled premium versions. In fact, sometimes, the freemium app may be all you need.

My first test was with Hootsuite.  I tried and tried to get Hootsuite to work. It offers multiple postings to three social media sites (you choose which sites when you set up the Buffer account). There seem to be good analytics, and scheduled postings. The problem I had was setting up the accounts (social media profiles) themselves. On social media accounts, when you set up the account, you are the Administrator of the account.  You can  have more than one Administrator, and as a result, you can have your own account and “manage” an entirely separate account on the same social media site. Google + and Twitter had no problems letting Hootsuite have access to my “managed” pages (accounts), but on Facebook, Hootsuite kept going to my “persona”l Facebook account, not my “managed” Facebook account (the account for TimelessDesignedFurniture). After several hours of tinkering with both Facebook, and Hootsuite, trying to get Hootsuite to post to the “correct” account, I gave up. Also, I use Feedly as an RSS reader, which helps immensely in the curating of information for our social media accounts. In order to use Hootsuite’s program to post from Feedly, Hootsuite wants $3.00 per month, and of course the upgrade to the Pro plan as well. Hootsuite, let me just say, “No thanks.”

Buffer, on the other hand, is totally zeroed in on what we need. Like Hootsuite, Buffer sets up accessing the social media accounts at setup. Unlike Hootsuite, Buffer actually accessed all three of the TimelessDesgnedFurniture’s social media pages. Posting couldn’t be easier, and Buffer can post from Feedly for FREE!!! Scheduling is a “snap”, and the analytics look to give very valuable feedback.

Using Buffer

Getting started with Buffer is easy. Simply, go to Buffer.com and create an account. During the process, you will be asked what social media accounts (social profiles) you wish to use, and you authorize Buffer to use them. For the Freemium version, you have up to three social profiles (the “Awesome” upgrade allows for 12 social profiles), and up to 10 scheduled posts are allowed in the Buffer queue at a time (up to 100 posts for the “Awesome”). For more flexibility, you can download a Buffer app for either Firefox or Chrome. With the buffer app, you can share posts from almost any website.

Here is how you can see how to use Buffer from Feedly. Once you click the bar icon at the upper right side of a Feedly feed, a drop down box will appear (Figure 1, below), and you click the Buffer text block. The first time you do this, you will set up permissions allowing buffer, via Feedly, to post to your accounts.

 

Buffer | LarryTalksTech.com

Figure 1.

 

Once Buffer is setup, you will get a new window, as shown in Figure 2. (Note: If you choose to use the Buffer app for Firefly or Chrome, by clicking the Buffer icon on the browser’s tool bar, you will get the same window).  Note the window shows where the posts are going, an abbreviated version of the post, and a drop down box, entitled “Add to Queue”.  By clicking “Add to Queue”, your posts are added to the Buffer queue for a scheduled delivery.

 

Buffer | LarryTalksTech.com

Figure 2.

 

By clicking the down arrow, to the immediate right of “Add to Queue”, you simply click the appropriate option to place feeds in the Buffer queue, or “Share Now” (Figure 3).

Hint:  There are no limits to the number of posts you “Share Now”.  Limits are only imposed on the number of posts allowed in the Buffer Queue.

 

Buffer | LarryTalksTech.com

Figure 3.

 

The Buffer website itself, provides a great deal of information for you.  When you go to Buffer.com and login, you will get a default window showing the contents of the Content tab.  Here you see what you have in your queue (Figure 4).

 

Buffer | LarryTalksTech.com

Figure 4.

 

When you click the Analytics tab, you will results from Buffer’s performance matrix,  Figure 5.

Buffer | LarryTalksTech.com

Figure 5.

 

There has been a great deal of research done about what is the best time to post. Though examining that research goes beyond the scope of this document, you can see that Buffer offers plenty of flexibility as to when to send your posts in the Schedule tab (Figure 6).

Buffer | LarryTalksTech.com

Figure 6.

Finally, here is what the Buffer Settings tab looks like(Figure 7):

Buffer | LarryTalksTech.com

Figure 7.

 

Summary

There is a high degree of elegance to be found in Buffer’s simplicity. It works every bit as good as it looks. Buffer is a real time saver, and has become an important part of my daily business routine. If you are dealing with multiple social media accounts, you should give Buffer a try.

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