Managing social media channels and streamline communications cross-media can be a challenge for businesses – no matter the size of the business. Social media management platforms such as Buffer and Hootsuite bring together all social channels into one platform so you can focus on the message you want to bring. Both platforms provide a free plan alongside several paid plans. Because those free plans are already very helpful for small businesses and start-ups and because the best things in life are free, we compared the free plans of the two most popular social media management platforms – Hootsuite and Buffer. Here we go!
Supported social networks
Both platforms help you manage your social media from one place. This means you can duplicate posts and share on different channels, and have an overview of all the published and scheduled posts of your social channels. Why is this good news? It can save you a lot of time and helps you streamline your communication across channels.
In order to be able to manage these social channels, Hootsuite and Buffer make a connection with your social networks. The free plan of both Buffer and Hootsuite allows you to connect to a maximum of 3 social media accounts. Buffer supports 4 social networks to choose from: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Hootsuite also supports WordPress blogs and YouTube Channels.
‘Supporting’ a social network on Buffer means allowing you to post on Facebook or Twitter for example. Hootsuite allows you on top of that to see your page’s timeline, number of likes and comments and check and reply to your messages from the Hootsuite platform. So if you’d only want to manage your posts, both Buffer and Hootsuite are suitable. If you’d also want to manage your social media feeds and messages, Hootsuite is your partner!
Publishing & scheduling
We already explained that both Hootsuite and Buffer can post to your social media. They also allow you to schedule multiple posts in advance and even customize the content for every channel, to help you approach your audiences in the best way possible – for example: LinkedIn and Twitter users swear by hashtags, while Facebook users don’t use them.
The free plan of Buffer uses a so called ‘queue’ to schedule posts. You can create a custom schedule with the days and hours posts should be published. For example, if you want to post a product update every Monday at 11 a.m., and a blogpost on Thursday at 11 a.m., your schedule will look like this.
Every time you add a post, it will fill in the next available slot. You can of course also manually schedule posts at other moments.
Hootsuite’s approach of publishing and scheduling is different. No queue this time, but a weekly overview. Posts can be scheduled by clicking on a time slot in the calendar or choosing ‘schedule’ in the ‘new post’-creator.
The free plan of Buffer offers more automation than Hootsuite – on which all posts have to be scheduled manually. But both platforms limit the number of scheduled posts for free users. Buffer allows you to schedule 10 posts in advance per social platform. Hootsuite’s limit is at 30 posts across all channels. Which limitation best fits your communication approach really depends on how you use your social platforms. If you only want to schedule as many tweets as possible, Hootsuite is your platform. If you use multiple channels, both Buffer and Hootsuite are suitable (they both only allow you to connect to 3 social channels, so Buffer’s limit is also at 30 posts).
Both Hootsuite and Buffer provide a link shortener function (buff.ly & ow.ly), this allows you to share long URL’s in a clean and polished way. The two platform also come with an app, this means you can manage your posts from everywhere. But watch out if you work with a team: the free plans only allow one user, so you will have to create a joint account.
Both platforms offer a free plan that is really helpful to manage your social media. If you want to streamline your communication and reach audiences on different channels in a customized way, a social media management platform is indispensable.
While Buffer is more of a content publishing platform that focuses on scheduling posts as easy as possible, Hootsuite, on the other hand, is a full social media management platform that lets you schedule posts and manages your social media channels. Another difference to consider when choosing between the two free plans is the limit on scheduled posts. If you plan on scheduling a lot of posts on one channel, Buffer is not the right platform for you.
Whatever platform’s free plan you choose, both will save you a lot of time and allow a clear overview of your posts and communication, so you can concentrate on what’s really important: your clients. Like I said – the best things in life are free!
Interesting features of the paid plans
Yes, this blog post is about the features of the free plans of Buffer and Hootsuite. But we decided to also add some interesting features that come with the paid plans. Just in case you’d plan on upgrading at some point, or for the curious minds among us.
- Both Hootsuite and Buffer offer a connection to Pinterest in their paid plans.
- Buffer offers a calendar in its paid plan (which is provided in the free plan of Hootsuite)
- A Hootsuite upgrade comes with auto-scheduling (which is more or less provided in the free plan of Buffer)
- And last but not least: both platforms offer basic analytics in their paid plans
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