Tools of the Trade: Buffer shares social media posts at an optimal time
Tools of the Trade is a series showcasing an app, gadget or service that entrepreneurs may find useful.
One of the biggest complaints we receive from our clients at 9 Clouds, a social media marketing firm in Sioux Falls, S.D., is the complexity of managing multiple social media accounts and sharing loads of content. Apps and platforms that aim to cure these issues are consistently released, but the latest one that I've been using, Buffer, I've come to like more than any I've tried before.
Buffer describes itself as "a smarter way to share," and I found it lives up to its description. Let's meet Buffer.
The Buffer file
- Description: Buffer is an app that publishes a user's queued content to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and App.net – whichever the users requests – throughout the day at optimal times.
- Launched: December 2010
- Audience: Buffer works best for those who want to consistently post to their social networks, especially sharing content like articles and videos.
- Competition: SproutSocial, HootSuite and SocialOomph, among others
- Cost: Buffer offers a free version that provides 10 updates to social media accounts, but if you need more it charges $10 per month.
Certainly, Buffer is not doing anything terribly new compared to what is on the market, but for my needs it provides a social media sharing platform that is efficient to use and easy to implement. It also provides actionable measurement to improve my efforts.
The best part of Buffer is how seamless it integrates into my current web experience. Whether I'm browsing the web or reading an article, thanks to the Buffer button and browser extensions – available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari – putting content into the app's queue and sharing it with a social network can be done with one click. I can then visit my Buffer dashboard and view scheduled posts, which Buffer optimizes based on my network and timezone, to see what content will be posted and when. It's a slick and smooth experience.
For the amount that I share on social media I've found the free account to be just fine, but I could justify the price of the paid plan ($10) if I started using Buffer for my business and wanted to share the workload with team members. The analytic dashboard (above) available on both options is nicely organized and clearly showcases what pieces of content get traction and attention.
To learn more about Buffer, I conducted an email interview with its co-founder, Leo Widrich (below). Widrich shared how Buffer came to be, how it spaces out its users' content and how it marries its product with its company philosophy.
Leo Widrich: The idea was born out of (our founder) Joel's bedroom in the UK. Joel had a huge problem for posting consistently to Twitter every day. He tried some tools that would allow you to schedule updates individually and soon discovered that wasn't a great way to go about. All Joel wanted was a way to add updates to a "Buffer", which would automatically space these updates out over the day.
SPN: Are you able to share any insight on how Buffer determines times of the day to share links?
LW: Definitely, so the optimal timing right now works with a basic algorithm that comes largely from some fantastic research (HubSpot social media scientist) Dan Zarrella performed. We compared his data with 1 million updates sent through Buffer and set optimal times to a largely similar schedule between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. of your most active Twitter or Facebook timezone.
We've also created some fantastic integrations with more advanced Twitter and Facebook analytics tools. Tweriod gives you the algorithmically best times to post and then lets you send that schedule to Buffer.
SPN: Your philosophy is "to help you create an authentic and honest appearance on social media," in what ways does the Buffer product follow this philosophy?
LW: Sure, this actually dates back to the very beginnings of Buffer. With Buffer, our key focus was to never cross the line to mindless automation. A lot of tools out there let you cycle through updates to social media sites without any human interaction needed. I think that's what can easily take out an honest and authentic appearance on social media.
Instead, every update you post through Buffer always comes from you. We just help with the timing, cross-posting and analytics. You are always in charge.
SPN: Anything else you want to add?
LW: One of the most important things at Buffer is that everyone who uses our product feels welcome and can connect with us at any time. So if you ever have any questions or suggestions, please drop me a note personally to email@example.com or email us firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @bufferapp. We are always around, close to 24/7 and love to chat! :)
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