One of the most ongoing debates in social media history circles around these two management tools, but the online community remains divided on which provides the best service. Recently, I decided to give Hootsuite a go, but having encountered some issues with the service – I went back to Buffer with my tail between my legs. In my experience, Buffer is just…easier. But does this mean it’s the better option? I’ve put together a feature comparison of each platform to help you to decide for yourself!
Content Scheduling and Link Shortening
This is the main reason I use a management tool in the first place, so for me it’s the most critical factor in deciding which service to run with. The online world never stops moving and it’s impossible to be online 24/7 if you want a life outside of work (even if you don’t, everyone needs to sleep!). So this is where the holy grail of scheduling comes in.
Hootsuite: Scheduling is pretty simple with Hootsuite. To schedule a post, you simply create the content and select the date you want to post to go live. Hootsuite also offers an auto select process with regards to ‘optimal’ posting times, but I usually end up tailoring it to my own schedule. Hootsuite uses ‘ow.ly’ to shorten its links and unfortunately this URL shortener tends to have a LOT of performance issues. A major red flag for me (and one of the reasons I stopped using it) is that it scrapes your links straightaway when you schedule a post, so if you want to schedule blog posts in advance that aren’t live yet – the thumbnail will actually show up like this…
Not very professional looking is it? Initially I presumed this was a simple glitch in the system, but after I contacted Hootsuite directly they confirmed that this is just how the tool works, and there is no ‘work around’ to fix it. In fairness to them, they got back to me straightaway, but unfortunately without this feature the tool was of no use to me. With that said, not everyone will schedule blog posts in advance, so if you don’t need this feature then keep an open mind because Hootsuite has a number of other advantages.
Buffer: Buffer is an absolute beauty of an app when it comes to scheduling.
It lets you set up a daily schedule for when your tweets will go out and you can even set up custom schedules on specific days, i.e. posting from 6am-6pm Mon-Fri and 12pm-6pm Sat-Sun. Its Chrome extension is a force to be reckoned with, and once installed you can schedule your posts simply by clicking the buffer icon in your browser – which will automatically convert the webpage into a tweet/update. If you’d like to insert a quote, simply highlight the text on the page and Buffer will insert it also. Buffer also uses ‘bit.ly’ to shorten links, which means absolutely no hassle with pre-scheduling unpublished blog content.
Tweets with photos are twice as likely to get retweeted and it’s a great way to promote engagement, so if you’re not already on the pic.twitter bandwagon it’s time to make the jump.
Hootsuite: I’m afraid Hootsuite comes last again with this one; this platform doesn’t let the user schedule tweets using pic. twitter images, so your images show up as ‘ow.ly’ links instead of being embedded. This means that images won’t automatically expand (as with twitter.pic) and they won’t even show up in the Twitter feed unless someone clicks the link. Hootsuite Pro does provide an twitter.pic option, however this is only available when you upgrade to the paid service.
Buffer: It is remarkably simple to schedule pic.twitter images on Buffer. You can directly upload the image in Buffer, right-click an image on the web and buffer it using your extension, or retweet someone else’s tweet with an added image (one of my favorite things to do – it’s a great way of adding a personal touch to your ‘recommended read’).
Social Media Monitoring
It’s crucial to stay on top of social media trends and activity in your market, so a monitoring tool is a basic necessity when it comes to your marketing campaign.
Hootsuite: I have to give it to Hootsuite on this one – they have it nailed. Hootsuite allow you to display multiple custom monitoring streams, based on keywords, lists or phrases. This is the one feature I truly miss since migrating back to Buffer. For example, with the Appath account, we monitor keywords such as ‘start-ups’ and ‘ecommerce’ to see what kind of conversations are happening in our sector. This is great for creating engagement opportunities and also just for staying on top of what’s trending in your market.
Buffer: Buffer is a scheduling tool and that’s where its focus lies, so there is no monitoring service provided. However, making scheduling its primary focus has ensured that Buffer provides a streamlined and efficient service; something Hootsuite is lacking as an ‘all rounder’.
…So how do you get the benefits of the Buffer scheduling service combined with the monitoring functions Hootsuite provide? I found that using both was a no-go; it was simply too much hassle. I had mainly used the Hootsuite monitoring service for my Twitter stream, so when I moved back to Buffer I simply decided to use Tweetdeck (an oldie but a goodie!) in conjunction with it – which is working out pretty well!
Whether you’re a Hootsuite devotee or swear allegiance to Buffer, both are excellent tools. After my experiences above, I’m certainly quite biased, but I’d love to hear about any other pros/cons you’ve encountered with these platforms in your business too! Oh and if anyone invents a social media monitoring/scheduling tool and combines the awesomeness of both of these platforms, I’m happy to be a beta tester! Oh wait, now THERE’S an idea… (Runs off to find a developer!)
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