During this week’s Hootsuite outage, I decided to finally use the Buffer account I had registered for months ago. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a short term alternative, but found that this San Francisco startup could make a few changes to its free app that would help Buffer compete against Hootsuite.
Here are the 3 features Buffer needs to compete with Hootsuite
1. Support for more profiles per user, on more social media platforms
Buffer needs to allow more than one account for each of the social networks it supports. The free version of Buffer allows you to schedule posts for up to 3 of your social media accounts, while Hootsuite’s free plan allows up to 5 social profiles, including Google + pages, foursquare, wordpress, Myspace, and Mix (not included on Buffer).
2. Give us streams!
One of the most useful real-time features Hootsuite offers is the ability for users to create customizable streams for each of their social network profiles. A user can choose to display just her home feed pane, or add panes to display most recent mentions, retweets, followers, DMs, lists, favorites, scheduled posts, searches, wall posts, events, or popular discussions.
Adding a feed feature to its free version would make Buffer a better tool for monitoring and engagement. But what Buffer lacks in engagement potential, it makes up for in content curation capabilities… almost. Which brings me to my last suggestion:
3. Content curation customization (say that 3 times fast!)
Buffer and Hootsuite both offer great bookmarklets for Chrome. But from what I can tell, Buffer is the only social media monitoring tool that offers up its own content for sharing. “Suggested Tweets” are both homegrown and crowd-sourced. A user can choose suggested content ranging from quotes, to trending articles, to Buffer blog posts – which is great for community managers on a time crunch.
This is the most unique feature Buffer has to offer, so why limit it? Although the maximum of 5 content suggestions per day per profile is meant to incentivize free users to upgrade, it hinders user experience. Placing a limit on the number of suggested content posts without offering customization features means that users may end up stuck with irrelevant suggestions. What if Buffer’s algorithm doesn’t find the user what she’s looking for? A simple “This isn’t relevant” or “Don’t show me this kind of content” button would do the trick.
Lastly, after seeing a few repeats in my “Suggestions” queue, I’d recommend that Buffer include a few top fold calls to action, reminding users that they can submit their own content. This would likely make suggested content broader and deeper, while transforming Buffer into a viable syndication tool for content creators seeking more web traffic.
What are your experiences with social media dashboards? Do you prefer Hootsuite over Buffer?