30 Days with…Buffer: Does it Belong With Your Blogging Tools?

In 2013, I compared the popular social media automation tool Buffer to HootSuite. I wrote that article from the point of view of a business.

More, recently I spent 30 days on the Awesome Plan for Buffer to see if it’s a good addition to a writer’s blogging tools.

What You Get

Buffer is a social media automation tool that connects to most of the major social media networks and enables users to share content at times that suit them. If you have a blog, you can use it to share your posts and also to share posts by others.

You can sign up for a free plan and add up to ten social media posts to your queue or Buffer.

I tried the free plan until it felt restrictive, and then I upgraded to the Awesome plan.

The Awesome Plan costs USD 10 per month and enables bloggers to connect to 12 social media profiles and plan as many posts as they want in advance. This plan supports two team members, making it suitable for those who write blogs as part of a team.

Posting on Google+

Google+ is an important network for bloggers, and it consists of pages and profiles, much like Facebook.

Your Google+ profile is where you manage your Google+ presence, and it’s important from an SEO point of view. If you’re concerned about Google authorship, you will need to maintain a Google+ profile with links to your blog posts.

Google+ pages are specific social media pages that you create as part of your Google+ profile. These pages are ideal for sharing content about a particular topic e.g. you could create a Google+ page to promote a new eBook for your blog.

Like other social media automation tools, Buffer doesn’t support Google+ profiles (or Pinterest), but it does support posting on Google+ pages. Support for Google+ pages is welcome, but the lack of support for profiles is a notable weakness in Buffer’s strength as a blogging tool.

Any blogger worth their salt will want to spend time curating their profile, over their page, so their posts and a headshot feature prominently in Google’s search results.

Google authorship example
In this image, you can see my headshot next to a blog post I wrote. This is an example of Google authorship at work.

Buffer’s lack of support for Google+ profiles and Pinterest isn’t a fault of Buffer; Google and Pinterest haven’t opened up their networks to developers. I’ve only found one social media tool that supports Google+ profiles, and it’s a WordPress plugin.

Buffer does, however, support posting to LinkedIn groups (a feature absent from some social media automation tools).

A Minimalist UI

Buffer is intuitive and easy to use. It took me about ten minutes to connect my preferred social media profiles.

You can share content within the Buffer UI or by using the app’s extensions for browsers like Safari, Chrome and Firefox.

Within the Buffer UI, you can see if people clicked or commented on your shares. It’s not, however, possible to see these comments and reply to them directly in Buffer.

I’m not convinced this is a bad thing.

I like that Buffer is refreshingly minimalistic; not everything needs a distracting feed.

Whatever your tool, it’s still a good idea to log into your networks of choice regularly so people don’t think you’re a bot and so you can keep track of the latest changes.

Time to Share

You can configure Buffer to share content at predefined times on your various networks throughout the week or you can manually select when you want to share content.

I shared content within the Buffer UI and also by using its various extensions for Safari and Chrome (my preferred browsers).

Using these extensions, I surfed the web and added content to my Buffer throughout the day. I also used these extensions to tweet my new blog posts on WorkReadPlay.

I also found it quicker to share content at predefined times and then adjust these times at the end of the week based on Buffer’s analytics.

I didn’t just use Buffer to share my content; I used it to share other people’s content and I did this on a mobile.

Mobile Buffer

Since I writing my last review, I gravitated away from sharing other people’s content on a desktop and towards curating content on a mobile.

This is because I read lots of blog posts on the go, on my HTC One. Using the Android app for Buffer, I was able to add content to Buffer after reading it. And I was even able to access basic analytics about my shares.

Unfortunately, the Android app alerted me with an annoying notification each time I sent something to my Buffer queue, and there’s no way to turn these notifications off.

I emailed Buffer about this and they promptly told me:

“At this point in time, there is actually not an option to disable the notifications for the Android device. This is something that we have on our list, but we are currently looking for an Android developer to come on board and start working with this. Sorry about that!”

“At this point in time, there is actually not an option to disable the notifications for the Android device. This is something that we have on our list, but we are currently looking for an Android developer to come on board and start working with this. Sorry about that!”

I didn’t expect this level of openness from Buffer. This kind of hands-on customer support is where Buffer excels, and the company does a great job of making customers feel like they’re central to the company.

Analytics

Buffer automatically shortens links using the popular Bit.ly service. It does this within the Buffer UI, on a mobile, and via the various extensions for Safari, Chrome and Firefox.

Members of the Awesome plan get access to Buffer’s analytics tools. I used these to track the performance of the content I shared and to gauge what readers and followers are interested in.

Buffer also sent me an analytics report each week which I used to track how new followers on Twitter followers I attracted, what my popular shares were and so on.

Yes, it’s possible to dig deeper into analytics, but Buffer’s analytics are more than most bloggers will need.

Tip: If you’re going to stick to the free plan, you can still use Bit.ly to find out how your shares are performing.

This Is For the Bloggers

A lot of business people use HootSuite and SproutSocial simply because they prefer to manage their social media feeds within a dashboard interface.

If you’re a business person with complex requirements, you may be better suited by more powerful and expensive social media automation tools.

However, this review is about Buffer’s role as a blogging tool.

Most bloggers who like to keep up will be concerned about their Google+ profile, and if this sounds like you, Buffer isn’t going to do this for you. Google+ aside, Buffer is a useful tool for bloggers and you can use it to share your content and curate content for your audience.

There’s nothing stopping you testing Buffer and deciding if it meets your blogging needs. Free trials are good like that, and Buffer’s team is one of the friendliest you’ll meet.

Pros
– Great customer support
– Pleasing UI
– Quick to set up

Cons
– Not possible to turn off mobile notifications
– Power-users may feel restricted by the Buffer dashboard
– No support for Google+ profiles

Do you use Buffer? What are your favourite blogging tools? Please let me know in the comments section below.

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7 thoughts on “30 Days with…Buffer: Does it Belong With Your Blogging Tools?”

  1. Hey Bryan,

    Love the posts. Keep it up and hit me up sometime. Would love to hear more about your strategy.

  2. Thanks for putting so much effort into this, I will be forwarding this post on to several clients which hound my team daily with more or less the same set of questions.

    Terrific site, and I wish I had the time to actually write out the few books I’ve had bouncing around in my head for the last few years…

    I’m sure I will end back up here when that time comes and I have been able to “buy my freedom”

  3. Great article Bryan.

    Do I dare suggest you have a look at http://mrsocial.me which is an alternative to Buffer.
    It helps mainly in finding engaging, viral, interesting and current content fit for social media and also schedules it like buffer. It would be awesome if you want to review it after that. I will happily assist. You have my email

    Girish

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