Buffer or HootSuite: Which is the More Powerful Social Media Tool?

Buffer vs Hootsuite

 

Did you arrive here from Google? Don’t have time to read a full review? Listen to my 30-second review now.

Buffer and HootSuite are powerful social media automation tools that make it easier for people to read and share information on a variety of social networks at times that suit them.

They’re designed to save you time and help you build an audience.

I spent the last two months testing the two social media tools, and I’ve written this feature from the point of view of a small business person who manages multiple social media networks and wants to decide between Buffer or HootSuite.

Buffer

Buffer supports multiple Twitter accounts, personal Facebook profiles and business Facebook pages. It also supports personal LinkedIn profiles, LinkedIn company pages and LinkedIn groups, Google+ pages and App.net

I signed up to the free version of Buffer. The premium or “Go Awesome” version starts at USD10 a month and allows two team members to manage 12 social media profiles.

Buffer has an intuitive and clean interface and it is supported by Android and iOS apps. It took me fifteen minutes to connect Buffer to my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and figure out how to use the service.

I used Buffer to post links to this blog and to other articles of interest on the web on my Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. I also tested the iOS apps on an iPhone 4.

Buffer doesn’t connect directly to Pinterest, and I wasn’t able to post on LinkedIn groups without ponying up for the premium version. Buffer also sent me lots of emails about my account and nudged me to “top up” with more articles.

I turned these annoying notifications off.

What I Liked

  • Buffer’s analytics tools are easy to use and understand. I was able to quickly see how many people commented, liked, clicked, shared my posts. I was also able to see how many people could have potentially read my posts.
  • Buffer is great for content curators. I used IFTTT rule to send articles I read on Feedly and Pocket to Buffer. Buffer then posted links to these articles on my preferred social networks at scheduled times.
  • Similarly, I set up a schedule in Buffer for sharing content on various social networks. I added articles to Buffer using a Chrome plugin, and it shared them at these predefined times. This means, with a little planning, I can spend less time managing social media and more time working.
  • The iOS apps is elegant and easy to use and perfectly suited for mobile.
  • The Buffer blog is an excellent resource for bloggers and those interested in content curation. It’s also a damn good read.

Room for Improvement

  • Buffer doesn’t allow me to see updates or feeds from my various social media networks.
  • The free version of Buffer is more restricted feature-wise than HootSuite.
  • The Buffer mobile app referred me to the website on several occasions, which kind of defeats the point.

HootSuite

HootSuite offers a free 30 day trial for business people. It supports multiple Twitter accounts, personal Facebook profiles and pages, LinkedIn profiles, LinkedIn company pages and groups.

It also supports Foursquare, WordPress, MySpace and Mixi and Tumblr and YouTube. And it supports Google+ Pages through RSS feeds.

Users of the free version can connect five social media profiles and two RSS feeds to their HootSuite account.

The premium version starts at EUR7.99 a month, and it supports 50 social media profiles and an unlimited number of RSS feeds. HootSuite comes on Android and iOS.

It took me an hour or two to figure out exactly how to use HootSuite and successfully connect it to my social media accounts. Even then, I had to consult various online help documents and forums before the dashboard made sense.

This is an issue the developers understand. They run a premium online university for users who want to get more out of HootSuite and out of social media in general.

What I Liked

  • I was able to create tabs in HootSuite for each of my various social media feeds on my dashboard. This saved me a lot of time. In my Twitter tab, for example, I can see all my tweets, the tweets from my followers, my retweets and direct messages. I have a tab configured on my dashboard for each of my social media networks.
  • HootSuite supports keyword tracking, which is really helpful for keeping up to date on business trends across various social media networks.
  • I can write one status update or pose a question within HootSuite. The app will post this across all my social media networks immediately or at a scheduled time or at a time HootSuite thinks most people will read it.
  • I was able to use HootSuite to pull content from my WordPress blog and to post content on my Tumblr blog.
  • The analytics tools is great for creating professional looking reports for clients.

Room for Improvement

  • Conversely, HootSuite’s analytics reports aren’t as easy to run as Buffer’s and take some time to figure out.
  • There’s a steep learning curve to HootSuite, which may put off time-strapped business people.
  • The HootSuite iOS app doesn’t support information from or posting to LinkedIn groups.
  • HootSuite struck me as service that could get expensive. The HootSuite YouTube app, for example, cost EUR1.99 per month. The more detailed analytics templates reports cost credits and are geared towards premium users. And so on.

Final Thoughts: Buffer or HootSuite?

HootSuite is the more feature rich of the two social media automation tools, but Buffer is easier to use and learn.

After two months with each, I gravitated towards HootSuite. That isn’t a criticism of Buffer. I simply preferred HootSuite’s ability to display multiple feeds from various social media networks at once.

I understand some users may find too much information overwhelming, and there’s a lot to be said for clean, intuitive interfaces and analytics. There’s nothing stopping users running both services at once and seeing which they prefer.

The free versions of Buffer and HootSuite contain more than enough features for most users to begin with.

Conversely, I preferred the mobile experience of Buffer over HootSuite. The sheer volume of information on HootSuite made it difficult to use the app on my iPhone 4.

I was more comfortable using HootSuite on a desktop, and the iOS app struck me as one best suited for a tablet.

My impression of Buffer and HootSuite is that they complement rather than replace Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. During my research, I read several post like this one.

They argue posts made through social media automation tools are less likely to appear on people’s news feeds.

While Buffer and HootSuite are useful time saving apps, automation is not a replacement for engagement. Social media managers will still need to create original content and engage directly with users.

And this is a job no tool or programme can replace.

Do you use Buffer or HootSuite?

Please let me know what you think in the comments section below or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.

Update

Today, I use Buffer as a blogging tool, and I use HootSuite to manage social media campaigns and plan my tweets for a week or longer in advance. And yes, engagement is still important.

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53 thoughts on “Buffer or HootSuite: Which is the More Powerful Social Media Tool?”

  1. Pingback: Buffer vs. HootSuite | Share Social Media

  2. Good write up, I agree that Hootsuite is the more rounded application. They are essentially two very different tools. 1) Buffer is awesome at scheduling 2) Hootsuite pretty much everything else – although I do wish Hootsuite’s own scheduling tool would allow you to select number of posts per day. Thanks.

      1. I stumbled upon this article as I was looking for some info to compare exactly these two services. I tried both and also justgo.com and right now I am investigating buffer because it was indeed super easy and fast to set up and understand.
        one little trick I noticed: in the free version you are limited to 10 scheduled posts. you can connect two accounts, I used my FB and tweeter. when you edit a post in buffer you can post it to both accounts at the same time but I realized if you dont do that you can actually schedule 10 more posts. My FB page posts appear on my tweeter and vice versa, so I scheduled 10 posts on buffer for my FB and 10 different posts for my tweeter so I have 20 posts scheduled, pretty cool.
        the one thing missing (or at least I havent figured out yet) is that I can’t recycle a list of posts. for that the website meetedgar.com seems great as you can organize posts by category and it recycle your library of posts, but it starts at $50/month which I find way too expensive for that. I would pay 50 bucks for a one time purchase of a software, but not for a monthly service.

        1. You can recycle posts with HootSuite. You can bulk upload an Excel file of you social media posts in advance. Bear in mind you can’t send the same tweet within 24 hours.

  3. what do you think of JustGo.com ? Seem they try to do even more than buffer, but they are still focusing on a niche at the moment to validate the hypothesis of their beta version.

  4. Great analysis; thank you for the post. I am doing some research on whether to go for Buffer or HS; I have 4 twitter accounts, 3 facebook pages for brands, and a LinkedIn page. I will explore these tow now, based on your experience based analysis.

    Many thanks!

    1. Bryan Collins

      Hi Vinish,

      Glad I could help. Let me know if you’ve any queries about either. I use HootSuite and Buffer all the time.

      Thanks for reading.

  5. Jackie Probiega

    Thank you for this insightful and detailed post! I’ve been testing both tools side by side and haven’t made a choice yet. I agree Buffer is easier and HootSuite is more feature rich. Hmmm….

    Pinterest is important for me and neither of these tools support it. I’m really loving Tailwind for Pinterest analytics, scheduling and management though. Included the link above as my “website.”

  6. Thanks for the comparison. i’m currently about to sign up – i wonder what happens to your page views – do they go to Buffer?

    1. Bryan Collins

      Buffer’s Awesome plan provides useful analytics. However, you can see the analytics for any Bit.ly link by adding a + to it. This post explains more.

  7. Connor from Hootsuite

    Nicely written comparison Bryan – thanks for the kind words about Hootsuite.

    We realize that different tools suit different needs, our ultimate goal to to try and provide the best tool to securely manage your social.

    Thanks for your honest feedback, we do our best to listen to people like yourself and try to improve to the best we can!

    -Connor from Hootsuite

  8. Pingback: The Must Have Social Media Management Tool for Any Business | Process Street

  9. Margarita U. Madlangbayan

    I have used HootSuite for years, but never Buffer. Your article made me realize that, perhaps, I need to get out of my comfort zone. At the same time, I would like to ask about this tool called vWriter.com, which keeps Twitter updated from RSS feeds. Have you tried it? Can you share your thoughts about this tool, if any?

    1. I like Buffer and HootSuite as I like to control my hashtags and the content of my tweets. I also don’t like automating social media posts too much as I don’t want to come across as a bot. It’s not much fun interacting with an RSS feed!

      I haven’t used vWriter.com yet but from what I can see they can personalise your social media posts, which could be a good thing.

  10. Hey Bryan,

    Great article and thanks for sharing! For me, I use both for very different purposes.

    I rather use HootSuite for management while Buffer for scheduling. I tried (several times) on getting the best of both worlds but it just don’t work that way.

    Great write and thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Reginald,
      I use both at the moment. I use HootSuite to listen and monitor social media and I use Buffer to share content. They’re both great at different things.
      Thanks for posting.

  11. I used Hootsuite, but then I switched to Buffer. It has more simple interface, I think. It is very easy to use: to schedule, and everything! Plus it has an Firefox plugin which makes it very comfortable for my use 🙂
    Nice write up 🙂

    1. Thanks. Buffer is easier to use alright. Plus they take care of scheduling. If you need to monitor lots of accounts, you can use HootSuite and its various feeds.

  12. Hi. Thank you for sharing your experience with HS and Buffer. I use Buffer for scheduling, although I also pop across to HS when I want to schedule a Tweet more than once as Buffer restricts that option. Do you know if the paid version of Buffer allows this?
    I like the visibility of feeds and keyword search within HS, but have never been able to access analytics reports in the free version to check them out.
    The analytics in the free version of Buffer are basic, but simple to interpret.
    I find myself using a combination of Google Analytics with the individual analytics provided by FB, T, G+, P and LinkedIn.

    Quick question….Has anyone used Hubspot’s CRM? It offers SM management and I am wondering if it would provide a complete picture rather than having to jump around to gather stats/ demographics etc from individual platforms.

    Cheers
    Tia

    1. The paid version of Buffer provides enhanced analytics and campaign tracking among other things. You can’t post the same tweet within 24 hours because Twitter doesn’t allow it. You can get around this by changing just one character in your tweet (i.e. add a space).

  13. Hi, does Hootsuite enable you to create categories for posts and then compare posts within the same category? I work for a small TV network and our Twitter and FB page includes posts on all of our TV shows. I don’t want to compare posts between separate TV shows. I want to produce reports that analyze the relative success of posts that pertain to the same show. If Hootsuite doesn’t have that functionality, then are there any alternative that do? Thanks!

    1. I’m not aware if HootSuite allows you do something like that. However….

      You could try using a hashtag for each show and then search for the relevant hashtag in HootSuite and save that as a post. Alternatively, you could use Bit.ly to create links that you can track. Twitter also recently rolled out their own analytics platform that enables you to export your data and play around with it. It’s free and easy to use.

  14. Perfect comparison, you have mentioned all those points I experienced with both of them.

    I like Hoosuite more because it has a great dashboard and I think its more user-friendly. If someone want to mange multiple accounts and have a big list of followers then I suggest Hootsuite. On the other side if you are looking for a good solution for scheduling post then I will suggest you to go for Buffer.

    1. Hi Niki,
      Yes, I still use both apps but for different things. Buffer for sharing and HootSuite for listening.

  15. I’ve used Hootsuite’s paid subscription, but found myself overwhelmed by their Dashboard. Now I use both Buffer and Hootsuite’s free versions, but am taking on managing social media not just for myself and my blog (kittomalley.com), but for a local non-profit (NAMIOC.org). Still debating the pros and cons of each. Thanks for your take on the two.

    1. Hi Kitt,
      I would like to suggest you to go ahead and try Blog2social, this is my personal favorite, not only you have a single dashboard which will help you post across platforms but also it requires no cron job done. You just have to simply install and activate it.

  16. Hi Bryan, Great article with lots of good information on both services. I have decided to try Buffer out but I do have a question that I am hoping you might know the answer to that I can’t find doing a Google search.

    Do you know if Buffer allows a person to have more than one of the personal/free accounts?

    I can’t find info anywhere on how many free accounts you can have. I use different social accounts for my many different things I am into and 1 personal/free account won’t work. I really don’t plan on using it that much so the paid account isn’t really needed. I basically just want to schedule Tweets and Facebook posts for my many personal social accounts.

    Sorry to bother you with this question, but you seem very well educated on both systems so I thought you might know the answer.

    Again, Great article and Information here.

    Have a great day.

    1. Hi,

      Good question.
      You could always set up multiple free accounts using different email addresses, but to be honest if you have lots of profiles and want to avoid pulling your hair out over passwords and so on, I’d recommend paying for the premium service.

      1. Thanks for the reply Bryan.

        Now that you mention it, it will be a lot easier than to have to remember and deal with multiple logins. I didn’t really think I would benefit from a premium service much, but just to cut down on wasted time and things to remember, it’ll probably be for the best.

        I appreciate your help and your time, Take care.

        P.S. Now that I have a bit of extra time i’m going to take a look around your site. 🙂

  17. Could you do a writeup on the “2nd tier” of social media tools out there for those a little more budget conscious? Specifically, I’ve been looking at Slacksocial, tinytorch and twittimer. Thanks!

    1. Hi Dale, I haven’t tried those tools yet but I’ll check them out. Buffer has a free option that pretty powerful. It’s my current tool of choice.

  18. Hello Bryan, an excellent review that’s still highly relevant despite so much advancement in the social media automation space. We’re a fairly new face to the industry, and the team at SoGrow have built a product that we hope will rival Buffer and HootSuite. I realise it’s been a while since this was written, but if you would ever write a wider comparison piece, we’d love to be involved. You can find out a little more about us at http://www.sogrow.co.uk

    Many Thanks,

    SoGrow

  19. Targeted Twitter Followers

    Very helpful and Great information,
    we appreciate advise especially coming from a professional.
    Thanks again and keep up the great work!

  20. The best tool amongst Buffer and Hootsuite is PinPinterest!! Yes, you read that right… http://PinPinterest.com is the new king of pinterest automation.
    It is free to use, runs on the cloud, mobile device optimised and has Pin scheduler.
    The best part about PinPinterest is its intelligent algorithms, that run in the background and make sure only content relevant to your business is pinned, nothing else (: Plus, it runs at a human-like speed, so any account ban risks are negated…
    You just have to setup once and it’ll care care of the rest while you sit back n relax B-)

  21. Room interior design

    I think HootSuite is the best powerful tools for paid version. If you want to use free then buffer is the best than HootSuite.

  22. Good write up, thank you. I agree with you and think you are spot on!
    I used Hootsuite for a year and felt overwhelmed. I can certainly agree with you that for scheduling it is really too much and for some of the richer options I realy never had the nerve.
    In the end I cancelled the subscription as it really turned out pretty pricey if you want to use some of the reports, coordinate with colleagues and have a bunch of accounts to look after.
    Have been looking for a good alternative since and not really settled on anything yet.
    Now I will try out buffer following your suggestion, so your comments were really helpful!

  23. Also, looking at your splendid work in social networking these tools have been helping us with almost everything in our social media accounts. I find Viralpep.com cheapest amongst all with a great response from the users. Also my all time favourite Hootsuite adding all the major services needed. Cheers!

  24. Thank you for this insightful and detailed post! I’ve been testing both tools side by side and haven’t made a choice yet. I agree Buffer is easier and HootSuite is more feature rich. Thanks for your suggestion

  25. I was very confused that which tool should I use but after reading your post I am pretty sure that Buffer is a best tool for me. Thanks for sharing this.

  26. Great article and thanks for sharing. For me, I use both for very different purposes. they both are helpful and informational keep posting stuff like this Thanks,

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