Building on our previous post we now look at another question from the “Top 5 questions social media marketers want answered” article.
“What are the best social management tools?”
As social interactions and the number of social networks continue to grow, having a trustworthy social media management app is crucial. We break down the free versions of two popular social media management apps businesses use today, Buffer and Hootsuite , by three categories: scheduling, analytics and user interface allowing you to decide which is best for you.
Scheduling; Adding it to Your Queue and Magically Your Post is Scheduled
Well it’s probably not entirely magic, there is a bunch of coding behind it, but in some ways it seems like magic. Hootsuite and Buffer both have built in scheduling features. Buffer is setup to be a rigid scheduler, while Hootsuite is more indiscriminate when it comes to scheduling, although Hootsuite (and now Buffer thanks to an update last week) does have an option for rigid scheduling too.
Buffer accounts are setup using a base schedule, which determines what day and time an update is sent from a social account. Updates are created from a browser add-on or within the web app itself. These updates are then added to your “Buffer” or queue and are sent out according to the base schedule. Buffer has also recently added the capability to schedule an update independently from the normal base schedule. (See screen shot below)
Hootsuite’s flagship scheduling feature is their auto schedule tool. Instead of stressing over scheduling every update, you can just select the Auto Schedule option. The draw back is you can inadvertently schedule updates on top of each other. However, Hootsuite offers the ability to schedule each update individually down to a 5 minute interval, providing more flexibility and specificity with a little more time investment.
Analytics & Measurement: Data-Driven Marketers are Successful Marketers
Data is not going away any time soon. Everyone talks about what to do with it, and with Buffer and Hootsuite you can actually use it. Buffer’s built-in analytics tools tracks all the primary metrics for Twitter and Facebook updates and interaction. Retweets, favorites, mentions, clicks and potential reach for every Tweet; Facebook updates have comments, likes, clicks, reach and shares tracked. While Hootsuite has a robust and detailed analytics platform, its free version, as you see in the chart below, has a limited view into analytics reporting.
Both platforms largely track the same social data; however, the user experience design can really impact functionally using the app. Buffer’s reporting is easy to locate the metrics you are looking for, whereas Hootsuite makes you work a little harder to find your data. If you’re interested, you can find the analytics you are looking for within Hootsuite by doing the following:
- Set up columns in the main view to show retweets and mentions.
- Create custom analytics reports to see your link clicks and follower growth.
- Use the analytics tab in the custom reports section to view Facebook analytics, including likes, new likes, people talking about us and weekly reach with graphs visualizing daily likes and engagement per post.
Usability: The Dealmaker or Deal Breaker
The beauty in buffer is its simplicity. It works as expected every time. They’ve done a great job of following through on user expectation by purposefully limiting the amount of features and making them a valuable part of the user experience. My favorite feature by far is the chrome add-on. Every time you go to send a tweet or retweet on Twitter.com a green “Buffer” button shows up right next to the Tweet button – making it easy to use and adopt into your everyday use habits. By seamlessly integrating into Twitter, Buffer doesn’t force users to visit a separate application to manage their social media efforts. (See screen shot below)
Set up to be your go-to social media dashboard, Hootsuite offers an aggregate view and management of most of the large and small social networks out there today. Although Hootsuite’s user experience may be trying on occasion, its full-featured application and compatibility with a range of social networks provide valuable data management and flexibility.
I know you’re at the point where you’re asking “Which one? Who is the winner?” It really comes down to what works for your social media needs and goals and most importantly your everyday usage. We recommend that you try them out. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
For a more detailed breakdown of features each app offers we took screen shots of each area in the app, check out the slideshow below.