One of the best ways to win at social media is to post – constantly. While you’re able to push new content on your own, it becomes frustrating as you grow. Why? Well, for the most part, you have to open up Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest (to name a few) to share content. It’s a lot of work.
When I started posting for a new small account, I realized I needed a new way to automate some processes. My idea became to schedule my content for release through social media using scheduling software. I considered both Hootsuite and Buffer for this task. Specifically, I considered the free versions.
I chose to discuss the free versions in this article because I believe in bootstrapping (spending the least possible on a project at first). Your first client might pay you little when you get started. Similarly, if you manage your own personal brand, you want to save as much money as possible in the beginning.
As I mentioned, I compared two free plans with lots of functionality. They include:
What Features Are We Looking At?
Social media requires a lot of work. Finding the right tool is difficult because there are usually many factors to keep in mind. Below are a few features that I consider important:
1. Number of accounts
Each plan allows you to connect to your different social media platforms. Yet, they have limits on how many accounts, or to which accounts you can connect. Whether one company is the better choice depends on the platforms you’ll need to access. For example, some B2B companies don’t need Instagram.
Buffer allows you to connect one account per platform (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+). Hootsuite, on the other hand, provides you with access to three accounts in total, across all platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube).
2. Number of posts that can be scheduled
The more posts that can be scheduled ahead of time is usually better for social media managers that post A LOT. If you post a few times a week, you might not be looking for a high limit. However, depending on the type of person you are when it comes to creating content, if you generate work in advance, you might want the flexibility to schedule numerous posts.
Buffer lets you schedule up to 10 posts per account while Hootsuite doesn’t place a limit.
Part of improving your strategy involves knowing how your posts are doing. Analytics can tell you what posts had the highest engagement. This can be helpful in identifying best practices. If, for example, you notice that images with animals tend to get 50% more likes than images without animals, then you know that you should focus on including animals in your posts (if relevant).
Buffer provides limited analytics tied to shortened links and engagement while Hootsuite provides basic analytics in such as shortened link tracking, engagement, and follower growth.
4. Content suggestions
If your strategy is to share existing content as well as original content, this might be valuable to you.
Hootsuite provides access to two RSS feeds thereby making it easier to find relevant content to share online. Buffer doesn’t include such integration with the free plan.
5. Image creator
Each social media platform has different requirements for image size. An image creator can help you resize images to optimal dimensions for sharing on various platforms. This is important as images that are easily visible tend to get more attention than those that don’t look good in a feed.
Luckily, Hootsuite has Enhance and Buffer has Pablo as additional free tools to make resizing images easy.
Now that you’ve read about two tools to schedule social media content, it’s time you give both a try (they have free plans, remember?).
Once you’ve done so, you’ll have a better idea of what meets your needs. Come back to this site to learn about other tools that you can use in your business.