Hootsuite Vs Buffer – The Heavyweight Social Media Showdown

Social Media Showdown Hootsuite Vs Buffer

Note: This post was originally published on 20th June 2014 and has been updated multiple times to take into account the latest features for both Hootsuite and Buffer, the latest update being 12th July 2016.

Social media has become a big part of almost everything we do online.

A strong social media presence leads to brand awareness, strong customer relationship management, target market expansion, valuable feedback and a boost in traffic.

As the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn continue to be hugely popular, it’s essential to develop strong social media skills in order to engage, listen and respond to your target audience.

The biggest challenge that we all face in terms of social media is time management.

Planning and organization are essential but with so many different networks to manage it can be difficult to stay organised.

But, the truth is that there are now tools on the market which are designed to help us save time and stay organized when it comes to social media.

They can help us schedule posts, monitor mentions, respond to our followers and gain key insights through the use of analytics, and statistics.

So in this post I’m going to walk you through two of the platforms I’m asked about most – Hootsuite and Buffer.

By the end of this post you’ll gain a key understanding into the pros and cons of each tool, and how you can leverage them to get better results from your social media efforts.

Let’s dive in and take a closer look!

SEMrush

The lowdown on Hootsuite

Hootsuite

With Hootsuite surpassing 10 million customers, there’s no doubt that they are one of the most popular social media management tools around.

This handy tool helps you manage all facets of your social media activity such as:

  • Publishing & scheduling updates
  • Sourcing engaging content
  • Responding to your followers
  • Monitoring your progress with analytics

Aside from the management and monitoring functionality, you can also collaborate with team members by assigning tasks – a task can be created right from within a stream (this is what displays social messages and mentions).

A wide range of networks are supported which include:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+ (profiles only)
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Foursquare
  • WordPress
  • Mixi (Japanese social networking service)

Hootsuite also provides social media training through the Hootsuite University – a series of lectures that feature best practices and tips from industry-leading brands, platforms and educators.

If you can demonstrate your expertise at the end of the course, you get a certificate that shows you are now a certified “Hootsuite Professional”.

SEMrush

What we love about Hootsuite

Hootsuite’s main strength lies in the vast variety of features. You can pretty much do anything you can possibly think of in terms of social media.

Monitoring numerous streams at the same time is another great characteristic of Hootsuite. For example with Twitter you can add: mentions, lists (favourites), hashtags, keywords, home feed, competitors’ feeds, etc.

It’s easy to respond to mentions within the platform and there are a few additional options you get access to:

  • Auto schedule – want to reply but not right now? It’s easy!
  • Schedule on a specific date – If the auto schedule isn’t right, just pick a time & date.
  • Drafts – You can save an in-progress message or use a draft as a template of sorts (note: templates was a feature but was removed in favour of drafts).

There is a publisher menu tab which allows you to see your scheduled updates on a calendar. You’ll also find the bulk schedule feature which allows you to upload a .csv file to Hootsuite full of your social messages along with the dates/times you want them to be published.

Publisher Tab

If you need help finding content to share, there’s a content suggestion feature built in.

You also get access to a browser extension called “Hootlet” which makes it easy to share web pages to any of your networks while you’re surfing the web.

Hootlet

If you click a tweet button on a website, you’ll also see the option to use the Hootlet right next to the regular tweet button.

Hootsuite’s customer support is spot on which is always an important factor to take into consideration and there’s a range of mobile apps.

Out of everything else, I love that Hootsuite has been in the game for a long time (since 2008). This means it’s a well-developed, mature tool.

This is important because so many social management tools are being launched and most of them disappear after a while. The downside when this happens is that we get used to using tools and it takes some time to migrate over to a new tool.

What we don’t love about Hootsuite

I’m a big fan of Hootsuite but like with most tools, it’s not perfect.

This tool comes fully loaded with a lot of tools, but the trade-off is that the dashboard has become rather complex. Despite several redesigns, it still doesn’t have a very user-friendly feel.

Although, you can definitely warm up to it – might just take longer to find your way around.

The other main downside to Hootsuite is the cost of analytics reports, pricing, in general, is good since there is a free plan and a low-cost pro plan but you can’t just open an analytics report like with most social tools – you’re given a limited number of credits based on your plan.

This does include a few basic reports on the free plan and an enhanced report on the pro plan – it shouldn’t be this complicated when so many other tools make analytics/reporting so easy.

Pricing

Hootsuite offers a bunch of different subscriptions.

You’ve got a free plan that supports 3 social profiles with very basic functionality.

Paid plans then start at £7.99/month (when billed annually) or £11.99/month (when billed monthly). Paid plans include extra features, and they have other plans such as ‘Teams’, ‘Business’ and ‘Enterprise’ that each offer more social profiles and additional features as you work your way up.

If you haven’t already given it a go you can get a free 30 Day trial of HootSuite.

The lowdown on Buffer

Buffer

In terms of complexity, Buffer is almost the polar opposite of Hootsuite. You don’t get such a wide range of features but what you do get is a cleaner and easier to use tool.

One important thing to point out here is another key difference between the two platforms:

Where Hootsuite focuses on general social media management which includes scheduling, engaging and monitoring – Buffer simply focuses more on the message scheduling side of things.

The idea behind Buffer is that you set a schedule and add posts to your “Buffer”, then posts will be scheduled at the intervals you have chosen.

You can connect Buffer to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and App.net.

Simplicity is what makes Buffer such a great tool. It doesn’t require advanced training and there’s only a small learning curve involved so it’s user-friendly and self-explanatory.

Anyone can use this tool regardless of their social media skills – you’ll be able to schedule social messages quickly and access basic reporting. Paid plans add team collaboration, higher message limits and better analytics.

SEMrush

What we love about Buffer

Buffer’s key strengths lie in its simplicity.

There are no extra bells and whistles that aren’t really important – you just get the essentials.

Aside from the scheduling functionality and analytics, you’re able to add RSS feeds from your favourite blogs and share their content easily.

Add RSS Feeds

The simple analytics makes it easy to see which social messages are performing best – you can then easily re-Buffer any messages with the click of a button.

Re-Buffer

Buffer also has their own browser extension which has a host of features:

  • Keyboard shortcuts – Speed up your social sharing
  • Buffer button overlay – Buffer images with a click
  • Buffer integration with popular networks – You’ll see a Buffer button on Twitter, Tweetdeck, Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit and Hacker News (you can disable any you don’t want).

Buffer Integration

The Buffer browser extension has another neat feature called the “Power Scheduler” which makes it easy to schedule multiple social messages across different times and accounts.

Power Schedule

Buffer have rolled out a bunch of other great features that deserve a mention:

First, they added Pinterest sharing and native video sharing which further adds to Buffer’s usefulness.

Then there’s Pablo, a tool created by Buffer which makes it very easy to overlay quotes/text onto images.

Just pick which size of image you want (different sizes work better on different social networks), customize the text and add a background. Then Buffer the image, share it directly to your favourite social network or download it.

Towards the end of 2015 they added a calendar view and a tool to optimize the times you share your content.

And in July 2016, they added support for Instagram. Well, sort of.

Let me explain:

Instagram doesn’t allow any tools to post to it’s app for you. None at all.

So to get around this, schedule your Instagram post in Buffer.

When it’s time to publish, you’ll get a push notification on your phone. You can then press a button to send your content over to the Instagram app and publish as you would normally.

Before, I’d have to use another tool for Instagram scheduling. Now I can remove one extra tool from the equation, and that’s a VERY good thing.

SEMrush

What we don’t love about Buffer

In a way Buffer is limited because you can’t view your Twitter feed or directly interact with your followers.

However, this is a double edged sword because while this does make Buffer fairly limited, it’s also what adds so much to its appeal.

If Buffer added loads of additional features it wouldn’t be such an effective scheduling tool and wouldn’t be so simple or easy to use.

Pricing

  • Individual plan: Free but limits to 1 profile on each social network and up to 10 scheduled messages.
  • Awesome plan: Starts from $10/month and allows for up to 10 social profiles, 100 scheduled messages and 15 RSS feeds per connected profile.
  • Business plan: Starts from $50/month and allows up to 25 social profiles, 5 team members, 2,000 scheduled posts per profile and rich analytics. Larger plans are available if you need it.

Conclusion

Both Hootsuite and Buffer are awesome social tools that will help you become more organized and deliver better social media results.

Which tool you ultimately choose will depend largely on your specific requirements.

If you manage numerous social accounts and want to be able to engage directly with your followers, Hootsuite could be the right fit for you. It may take a while to get to grips with all of its features but once you do, you’ll start saving a lot of time with managing your social profiles.

On the other hand, if you aren’t able to devote much time to social media and you want something that is super quick for scheduling updates, Buffer is a great way to go. It’s simple, fast and efficient so you cannot go wrong.

The third option is to use both because Hootsuite and Buffer do have the ability to complement each other very well. Scheduling is easier with Buffer, but you still need to respond and interact with your followers, which is where Hootsuite comes in.

That said, Hootsuite is catching up on the scheduling front – especially with the release of its Hootlet browser extension and publisher features.

Finally, which tool do you prefer and why? Which other social media tools do you use?

Let us know in the comments below!

 

Adam Connell

Adam Connell

Adam Connell is the founder of Blogging Wizard, where he shares actionable strategies to grow your blog like magic. Fan of Chinese takeaway, Firefly and all round digital marketing addict.
  • Like ’em both Dan, but I’m a Hootsuite Pro guy 😉 Super review!

  • Super review. I like them both…and especially like the fact that they both offer bulk uploads. 🙂

  • Max

    Is there something out there for Instagram and Pinterest?

    • Hi Max,

      For Pinterest it’s worth checking out Tail Wind.

      There are a few good Instagram tools here: http://www.razorsocial.com/instagram-tools-to-grow-your-presence/

    • Adrian Katz

      Buffer does Pinterest as well but I haven’t used it.

      • Tried this feature recently, very impressive. Super simple to use.

    • Adrian Katz

      HootSuite has an IG app for monitoring but you aren’t able to post. Scheduled automated posting is actually against the IG TOS, so even with an app like Latergramme you will still need to approve and post at the scheduled times, which means having your phone/ipad by you when you have a post coming up.

    • Suvi Huang

      I’m currently testing with everypost

  • I’m experimenting with both !

  • im still confused but think i’ll go for hootsuite as hope to learn more and like the idea of the university and ability to grow with it further. thank you for the tips.

  • Greg Acuna

    Thanks Adam…I’m testing both of them and your comments have helped me understand the two. Cheers.

  • Adrian Katz

    I’ve been using both. I like Buffer’s super easy analytics but I prefer basically everything else on HootSuite as far as scheduling and monitoring. Plus their addition of HSU is a no-brainer, even for somebody who is well versed will learn a cool tidbit here and there.

    • I’m with you, Adrian.

      Buffer is so straight forward, love the analytics but scheduling/analytics is as far as it goes. They can make quite a good combo.

  • Adam nice one and just in time as I am in the process of jumping on to one of them. I think I am more leaning to Buffer – purely because it is simple, elegant and easy to use. It does everything that I need and most importantly, links to Google Pages as well (Hootsuite only links to Google Profiles I believe).

    Thanks again for sharing a valuable feedback and user review.

    • Thanks Ahmad, glad this was a timely post for you!

      I’m with you on Buffer – I love the simplicity of it.

      That’s right, both Buffer and Hootsuite do Google+ pages.

      Sure thing – thanks for checking out my post!

  • Megan Kellar

    Great update on this one. I currently do the both of them option. Buffer is just awesome, especially with the website app, and quick to schedule posts. Whereas Hootsuite is great for monitoring the community!

    • Thanks Megan! Love that you use both – they both have their advantages. 🙂

  • Lydia Woudenberg

    Update: Hootsuite Free contains 3 profiles, not 5 anymore

    • Thanks for catching that, Lydia, much appreciated! – I’ve updated the post to show the current figure.

  • We are Hootsuite users over here at CrowdRiff and personally, I use Hootsuite to monitor my personal accounts and Buffer to schedule. My favourite part about Buffer is definitely the new Pablo. It’s so awesome and my image posts get a lot more interaction than simple text updates.

    • Hi Ritu, thanks for sharing your thoughts and great point about Pablo.

      I use another tool for this called Share As Image, but I’ll make a note in my post because Pablo is such a great little tool.

      • Hey Adam, yeah! I used to love using Share as Image and had a pro account there as well. I have a feeling that Buffer might have just bought out Share as Image because they look identical to me. It’s just a hunch though.

        • Hey Ritu, very true! First time I tried Pablo it looked very basic with only one image size and not much else but now it looks much more like Share As Image.

  • Mark Batchelor

    Helpful article – I’m trialing them both

    • Glad you found the post helpful, Mark. Let us know how you get on.

  • Jayne Stewart

    thanks for the info, new to managing work’s social media so need to get my head around all the details. Does buffer offer suggestions like Hootsuite does?

    • You’re most welcome, Jayne.

      Buffer does have a suggest feature, but it will be removed soon.

      I’ve got a Buffer Awesome plan which allows RSS feeds to be added for different social accounts which can work well for finding content to share from blogs you follow.

      I usually stick to Feedly for finding new content to share – it’s easy to find collections of blogs by other users and create your own collections.

  • Pratik Vyas

    Thanks! Awesome post!! I made my choice. I pick Buffer for the simplicity and because I don’t want to spend too much time managing social media.

  • Jane Clements

    Thanks for the review. I was undecided but this helps to make sense.

  • The third option – combining Gootsuite AND Buffer – might be the ‘right’ one.
    (it still depends on your needs).
    Nice blog post!

    • Thanks Filippo, I like the idea of combining the two. Buffer’s scheduling is awesome, and Hootsuite fills in the gaps.

      Definitely – best point to start when evaluating tools like these is figuring out exactly what you need in a tool, then finding a tool that ticks all the boxes.

  • Megan Darling

    I am brand new to this marketing thing and my main goal is to find a tool that is easy for me to use to lead people to my blog and website. I want something that can link all my platforms to (FB, Twitter, IG, Linked-In, Google+, Pinterest, etc…)

    I’m wondering if I should spend the time figuring out how to use Hootsuite, or just go with Buffer because it sounds easier to use?

    Any advice? I’m also looking at SumAll or DrumUP…

    • Hi Megan,

      I find that Buffer and Hootsuite compliment each other well. But if you need a more well rounded management tool that allows you to reply to your followers directly – Hootsuite may be the way to go.

      I haven’t tried DrumUP yet, but I’ve used SumAll. It’s a great reporting tool.

      It might be tricky to find a tool that supports all of those social accounts. For Google+, there isn’t a tool which supports profiles yet, but pages are supported in a number of tools.

      Another tool you could look at is MavSocial.com. They have a free tier that supports 6 different social networks and you can add up to 50 profiles. Worth checking out, especially since it can do a lot without costing you anything.

      – Adam

  • tenpits

    Hi. Do you know of any social sharing like meet edgar (recycles queued posts automatically and deletes the old one after it is reshared). I need pinterest and google plus to be included. Thank u! I am currently using Buffer but once my queue runs out, i would like to reshare my evergreen contents without needing To rebuffer and delete previously shared same content.

    • Social Oomph has the queue functionality but not support for G+/Pinterest.
      Oktopost.com is another, but doesn’t support Pinterest. It supports G+, but only pages (no tool supports profiles unfortunately).

      Haven’t found anything that includes Pinterest and this type of thing yet, although new apps are being launched all the time.

      You could maybe try using Bulkbuffer.com alongside Buffer to import lots of evergreen posts in one go. Again, doesn’t work with Pinterest.

  • Hi Ashleigh. I’ve had the same issue with bulk publishing & Buffer.

    Great point about tagging people in photo’s – I hope they are able to add this.

    I like being able to do this but it would be so much better being able to go into an app instead of going using Twitter natively.

    Thanks for sharing about the paid accounts and Instagram.

    – Adam

  • Adam Newbold

    Good points, Adam. From one Adam to another, many thanks for explaining them both so thoroughly and succinctly!

    • Thanks Adam. My pleasure – always happy to help out another Adam!

  • I´m at the beginning of trying out both and found your review (which for me boils down to simplicity vs. features) – thanks for that great comparison that prepared me well for the task ahead.

  • Artur Polos

    wow! thanks Adam now i understand for what people use this social tools! i’m just start to read about Hootsuite, but now will use buffer! amazing tool!

    • Sure thing, Artur.

      You might need something else on top of Buffer for social management. Things like replying to @mentions and messages on Twitter etc.

      That’s the only downside to Buffer – it only does scheduling. But a good option to try is “Respond”. It’s a new tool Buffer released recently.

      It’s pitched as a customer service tool but if you only need an app to help you manage @mentions & messages on Twitter, it should work well. It has a free tier too.

      https://buffer.com/respond

      – Adam

  • Definitely! IFTTT is a very handy tool.

  • Akintunde Jegede

    Just signed up on Buffer.com to updates quotes from quotehood.com, but I am following your advice, about to register on Hootsuite too

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Paul. Just to clarify: Buffer only supports scheduling, so other elements of managing social media would need to be done in another tool.

    Good point – Hootsuite is far more affordable in that respect.

    • Ioana Budai

      Much appreciated the effort, Adam. It’s been a while since I’ve been trying to make up my mind on the subject. From what I heard, however, Buffer also offers some very nice analytics tools, so you can rely on it with basic social media management entirely. Please let me know if I’m right 🙂

      • Thanks Ioana. Buffer does have basic analytical tools, but you can’t use it for full social management.

        For example, in Buffer you cannot reply to mentions, DM’s or see any sort of social inbox. So the management side of things has to be done with Twitter natively (very time consuming) or with another tool.

        Note: analytics in Buffer, on the Awesome plan ($10/month) just shows you a list of your tweets and the interaction they received. For better analytics, you’d need their $50/month business plan. But, for most, the analytics on the Awesome plan is enough.

        – Adam

  • Lucas

    Hootsuite just seems like it covers it all which is better. If you’re going to learn a new platform better to learn the one which offers more benefits 🙂

    • You are right, Lucas. Hootsuite definitely does a lot more. 🙂

  • Jeremy Kinney

    This helped me make my decision. I’ll start with Buffer and then also try it Hootsuite with my other business. Help with social media is a must!

  • I like the ease of scheduling RTs with Buffer. While it’s one click with Buffer, I need to edit Hootsuite RTs as they do something weird with the images and the characters always exceed 140. Buffer saves me time!

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