Buffer vs. Hootsuite: The Better Social Media Marketing Software for Small Businesses?

Social media, the phenomenon once dismissed by tech pundits, is now the space in which much of the internet crowd thrives on. From humble beginnings as a means to connect with friends and family to a marketing & advertisement juggernaut, social media has weaved itself into the fabric of daily life. Businesses, big & small, are using social media marketing software to find new leads, communicate with their followers and patrons and, resolve customer problems quicker.

While large scale organisations and conglomerates have the means to use multiple social media marketing software to manage their different social media verticals, small businesses can’t say the same. A mix of limited budget and smaller requirement makes it difficult for small businesses to find a solution that ticks all of their boxes. Small companies don’t have the luxury to simultaneously run multiple social media management solutions and have to be frugal about what they spend on and how they do so.

To help them decide, we are comparing two premium social media marketing software, Buffer & Hootsuite, to establish the solution best suited to small business needs. Before we get to their specifics, lets first go through what each of these solutions are.

Buffer- Established and launched in 2010, Buffer is a social media management suite that helps users manage their social media accounts through a single dashboard, schedule posts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn, and, to analyse social media traffic results and engage with their community.

Hootsuite- Hootsuite was launched in 2008 and supports social network integration for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Reddit, Storify, Tumblr, and Marketo. It comes with a social media management dashboard that allows users to manage multiple social media pages and plugins simultaneously.

Buffer vs Hootsuite: Key Differentiators

For clearer understanding of both these applications, we will dissect their performance against three key factors- UI & UX, Price &, Features. These will help you get a grasp on their functionality, advantages & disadvantages.

UI & UX

Buffer: Buffer’s clean interface makes it easier to navigate around & explore its features. Super clean, minimalist & simple design makes Buffer a great solution for those seeking something that’s easy on the eye. However, it does lose out on some key functionalities which Hootsuite offers.

Hootsuite: There are a lot of things that’s great about Hootsuite, but interface isn’t one of them. On first impression, the Hootsuite dashboard looks cluttered with a very uninspired design template. However, don’t let that distract you from the myriad of features on display. Hootsuite lets you schedule posts & messages. It comes with the added ability to add in your Freshdesk feed.

Price

Buffer: Buffer offers a limited free plan for individual use, which allows maximum of 3 social profiles to be added & operated using Buffer. Their paid plans for business & individual use offers more accounts to be linked, social analytics & other features. The most expensive plan for businesses is priced at $399/month and comes with a host of features.

Hootsuite: Hootsuite also comes with a free plan for individual use. With the free plan, a user can link up to three social profiles. The paid plans offered by Hootsuite starts at Rs 1260/month for a single user and goes up to Rs 45000/month for team usage. Hootsuite also offers businesses to go for customised solutions, the pricing of which depends on a company/user’s need.

Features

Buffer: With Buffer, users get a simple and streamlined application, primarily used for scheduling social posts. Buffer’s platform support is limited, which can be a deterrence for some folks. They do have a host of features supporting posting automation & tracking.

Another hindrance that Buffer has is the inability for users to engage with their audience using this application. Social analytics are only available for posts and not for profiles, making CRM & marketing automation software integration moot.

Although Buffer does lack some of the cool features that Hootsuite offers, it is by no means a bad tool. Key add-on features of Buffer include the ability to make calendars that highlights posting schedule, browser extensions to share relevant content &, Pablo- an extension to create your own shareable images with overlaid text.

Hootsuite: Hootsuite is like a well-designed complex maze. It can be very difficult to navigate sometime but it offers virtually unlimited possibilities. Hootsuite not only lets you schedule posts, but to analyse it, interact ad engage with followers using the dashboard and assign tasks to team members.

Some of the advanced add-on features of Hootsuite include Geosearch- a tool to track trending topics by geo-mapping, Hootlet- a feature that lets you mark and share interesting content &, Hootsuite Campaigns- a tool to build campaigns with features such as sweepstakes and photo galleries.

Summarising Buffer & Hootsuite

Buffer allows users to link multiple accounts on Twitter, Facebook (personal & business pages), LinkedIn (profiles & company page), LinkedIn groups, Google+ pages and more. Buffer comes with an intuitive, sparsely designed clean interface which can also be run on Android and iOS-based devices.

Buffer’s analytics tools can be used by both layman & social media virtuoso. With Buffer, getting insights on comments, likes, clicks and shares on social posts is a simple process. Its scheduling feature allows users to manage their social accounts and schedule posts with minimum effort.

Buffer’s limitations include: –

  • Users can’t see updates from every social media account
  • The feature offered in Buffer’s free version is more restrictive than Hootsuite.

Hootsuite offers a free 30-day trial for business use. It can be used to manage & post on Twitter Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, WordPress, MySpace, Tumblr, Google+ and YouTube. Free users can connect up to five social media profiles and a maximum of two RSS feeds to their Hootsuite account.

Hootsuite allows users to create separate tabs for their various social media accounts & feeds on the dashboard. It also supports keyword tracking, with which users can keep up with business trends across different social media networks. Hootsuite’s analytics feature can also create professional looking reports for internal use & clients.

Hootsuite’s limitations include: –

  • A complicated dashboard design makes it difficult for first time users to understand it quicker.
  • Hootsuite is considerably more expensive.

What Should You Pick Between Buffer & Hootsuite?

While Buffer & Hootsuite are fantastic social media management solutions with a whole bunch of awesome features, they are not suited to everyone’s need.

Buffer is more suited to small business need due to its simplicity. Small businesses that are looking for a solution to schedule post should consider opting for Buffer.

On the other hand, Hootsuite offers more complexity and features which makes it the perfect solution for companies with a big social media presence and a large team managing the same. Hootsuite runs best with a dedicated marketing team that can harnessing all of its diverse capabilities.

Have you tried using Buffer and/or Hootsuite? If you have, would you mind sharing your experience of using the same? Did you face any problems? Are there any tips or tricks you know that can enhance the user experience? Let us know in the comments below.

Surjodeep Bose

A self-confessed pop-culture enthusiast, he loves everything to do with movies, comic books and travelling. Studied at Christ University Bangalore with a triple major in Journalism, Psychology and English, I have been working in content for the last 2 years.

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Surjodeep Bose

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