Spacing out the timing of your social media updates makes perfect sense. Your audience is no longer 9 to 5 and you can’t be up 24 hours a day to service your social media accounts.
Buffer and Hootlet (from the team at Hootsuite) provide useful tools for sharing out your content at pre-scheduled times. This allows you to have a constant flow of content going out on social media channels, and it means you’re not sending too much content in one burst!
But which is better, Buffer or Hootlet?
Let’s take a spin and see which wins!
What about Hootlet?
You add Hootlet as a browser extension. When you come across content on the web that you want to share, you click the browser extension image to add it to a queue. You can also highlight text within the content of a web page to add it to the queue (you can do this with Buffer, too). Hootlet is free as part of Hootsuite, however if you want good reporting on the content you share, or if you want to share to more than five social profiles, then you’ll need to pay for the $10-per-month plan.
Here’s an example of what is displayed when I click on the Hootlet button.
The name of the post is displayed, together with a shortened URL using the ‘ow.ly’ shortener. If you use Hootsuite as your regular tool for sharing content, this is handy because you can report on the content you share on Hootsuite and from Hootlet in the same interface.
You can send the link to any – or all – of the social profiles you have set up. For free, you can have up to five social networks. So you could share to LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook and send it to another account (e.g. if you have multiple Twitter accounts) and you’ll still be fine.
When you click ‘autoschedule’, it’s added to the publisher queue on Hootsuite and then sent out a time that Hootsuite thinks will work best based on previous performance. But it’s not all down to Hootsuite, because you can set your own parameters for when the autoscheduled updates post. You can specify a start and end time for the day so that no messages go out outside of these times. You can also specify the days of the week and the number of messages during the day.
What about Buffer?
With Buffer, you click on a Buffer button in your browser to schedule out the content. You can send your update immediately or send it at a pre-configured time.
The cost for Buffer is $10 a month for the basic plan. There is a free plan, too, but if you’re sending content regularly you’ll probably need to go onto the paid plan.
One nice feature that Buffer has and Hootlet does not is that you get to preview the image that you’re sharing out on social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook. You also get to select which image from the page you use.
The link is not shortened in the example above but you can set up link shortening to use Buffers only link shortener, bit.ly or j.mp.
When you ‘buffer’ the content it goes into a queue. For this queue, you specify the days of the week and the specific times for each day that the content is sent out.
Buffer feeds – Buffer has just added the ability to add blog feeds to your Buffer account. This means you can go to Bufferapp.com and look at the latest blog posts from a variety of blogs you track and then add them to your queue. This is nice in theory, but they are never going to have the same level of functionality as Feedly. Feedly itself supports Buffer integration, so the Blog Feeds functionality is only useful to more novice users who don’t have Feedly set up, or those who don’t want to use another application for their feeds.
Content suggestions – As Buffer shares a lot of content it gets to know what is popular. It also knows what you like to share. So, they have started displaying some content suggestions that you might like to share with your followers. As this functionality develops, it will undoubtedly become more powerful.
Analytics – There are good analytics available for content shared through Buffer, so you get to see which updates were retweeted, liked, clicked on etc.
Integration – Buffer has been busy forming partnerships with third-party tool providers so there are extensive integration options available through products such as Feedly, Mention, the Flare social sharing widget and others.
Campaign tracking – You can add tracking codes to the URLs you share so that you can see any traffic generated through Buffer in Google Analytics.
Hootlet Versus Buffer
So, which one should you use?
Hootlet is free and Buffer is $10 per month. But, with Hootlet you need to use Hootsuite for reporting, and this is very basic unless you pay for the $8.99-per-month subscription.
With Buffer, the $10-per-month option gives you support for more social profiles. Also, because Buffer is the core product of the Buffer team, they are adding on more functionality and integrating with more products than the guys at Hootsuite will ever do. The integration Buffer has with other applications is a big plus.
For example, I use Feedly to read blog content, and Buffer is integrated as part of Feedly. On a desktop I could still use Hootlet to share my content from within Feedly, but on a mobile device this is not going to work.
To me, the ideal combination is using both Hootsuite and Buffer. Hootlet has less functionality than Buffer and it’s likely to stay that way.
What do you think? Do you use these or other similar apps, perhaps the similar scheduling plugin available with SproutSocial?
Robot image from Shutterstock