The market of social media management tool started to rise in 2008, following the massive growth of social media. Twitter and Facebook in particular. By that time (2008), Hootsuite and TweetDeck (before get bought by Twitter, TweetDeck was originally an independent app) were two most popular social media management tools until Buffer taken part two years later.
As of today, Hootsuite and Buffer still involved in a fierce competition. The two are widely used by businesses on any scale. Unlike Sprout Social which tends to designed for bigger-scaled businesses, Hootsuite and Buffer play in the same area. Those two tools target all business scales, from small to enterprises.
However, there is a key difference between Hootsuite and Buffer. Hootsuite is a social media management tool, while Buffer is rather a content publishing tool. Hootsuite allows you to manage social media channel, monitor the conversations and schedule posts. Buffer doesn’t come with the capability of managing social media channel or monitor conversations. So, it would a bit unfair to compare Buffer with the Hootsuite features that Buffer doesn’t support.
So, the comparison below will only take features that the two tools have.
1. Supported social media platforms
Before coming up with a decision which one is the better tool in terms of supported social media platforms, it would be much better to understand which social media your business focused on. I am pretty sure that not all social medias are used by your business. But first, below is the list of social media platforms supported by Hootsuite and Buffer.
- Hootsuite: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, WordPress, Instagram, YouTube.
- Buffer: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest (premium only).
As you can see, both Hootsuite and Buffers support Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram. It’s reasonable enough since those platforms have a global popularity. Hootsuite is a better suited tool if you are a YouTuber or WordPress blogger who need to schedule your contents. Conversely, Bufffer would be a better option if you rely on Pinterest to promote your business.
2. Publishing and scheduling features
One of the features you probably expect the most from social media management tools like Hootsute and Buffer is the cross-posting, which allows you to post the same content to multiple social media accounts at once. Both Hootsuite and Buffer come with the capability. When posting, both Hootsuite and Buffer also allows you to attach image. Up here, everything is the same. But, Hootsuite allows you to engage with the contents you shared by replying comments or something else (just like you can do on the official apps of social media you use). In Buffer, you can only share your content without engaging with it. It’s because, as I mentioned earlier, Buffer was designed as a content publishing tool instead of social media management tool.
How about scheduling feature?
Scheduling is also the main feature of Hootsuite and Buffer. Of course, you can also post your contents right away without making any delay.
In terms of scheduling, there is no significant difference between Hootsuite and Buffer. The only difference is the number of scheduled posts you can add (see point 4 below). When creating schedules, you can choose your own times or leave it to the tool to decide when best to post your content (auto schedule). Be it Hootsuite or Buffer have their algorithms to calculate those times.
3. Analytics features
Both Hootsuite and Buffer come with an analytics features to allow you check the performance of the social media platforms you are handling. However, the analytics features of each tool have a different focus. The analytics feature of Buffer is much simpler than Hootsuite’s. The analytics feature of Buffer allows you check the best as well as worst post performance based on retweets, favorites, replies likes, comments, clicks, reach, and post type. The analytics dashboard of Buffer is also simpler and tends to easier to use. Buffer shows the analytics data in a simple and clean layout. You can also export the analytics data in case you need to perform further analysis (you need to upgrade your free account before being able to do this).
Meanwhile, Hootsuite comes with a more complex analytics feature, not just limited to performance contents. It’s reasonable enough since Hootsuite is basically a social media management tool instead of content publishing tool. Hootsuite allows you to integrate its service with Google Analytics to get analytics data about your social traffic. In Hootsuite, you can perform an analysis for each social media account separately. The analytics features of Hootsuite offers analytics around content you post (much like Buffer’s analytics) and how your social medias are performing. The analytics features offered by Hootsuite is a bit more complex than Buffer’s. So, it may takes longer to learn unless you already familiar with social media analytics tools before.
4. Paid versions
Both Hootsuite and Buffer play in the same market segment. They are designed for all business levels, from small to enterprises. Both Hootsuite and Buffer adopt the freemium business model. Which means you can use them for free, but there are more features and capabilities already waiting if you upgrade your free account. In general, what make the free version and paid version of Hootsuite and Buffer different is the number of scheduled posts you can create, the number of social media accounts you can add and the analytics features.
Free version of Hootsuite allows you to create 30 scheduled posts, while free version of Buffer only allows you to create maximum of 10 scheduled posts per account (you can only add a single account per platform).
Hootsuite offers four premium packages with cheapest package costs $19 per month. The cheapest package of Hootsuite allows you to create unlimited scheduled posts and add up to 10 social profiles. The higher package you choose, the more features and capabilities you are going to get. Hootsuite gives a chance to try the premium packages via the offered trial period.
Buffer also offers four premium packages with the cheapest package costs $10 per month, a bit cheaper than Hootsuite, but you still have a limited scheduled posts. This package only allows you to create maximum of 100 scheduled posts, compared to unlimited scheduled posts offered by Hootsuite. The number of social media accounts you can add if you register to this package is 10 accounts per platform. Below is the table of packages offered by Buffer. Buffer also allows you to try the premium packages via the offered trial period.
5. Teamwork capability
Hootsuite and Buffer are great tool for social media agency firms. They can be used as a collaboration tool. If you are a social media manager, you can add your team members with the aim to help you to manage the social media accounts you are handling. However, this feature is only available for premium packages, be it on Hootsuite or Buffer.
The best thing about Hootsuite and Buffer for a collaboration is that you don’t have to disclose any password of the social media accounts you and your team are handling. They let you authenticate your access via an email address or a social account.
Buffer has two user levels: manager and contributor. Manager has the capability to add updates to your Buffer account and change the posting schedules, while a contributor can only add posts to a profile you have given them access to. Before the posts are added to the queue, they should be accepted by the manager. Hootsuite, on the other hand, has more granular options for user permissions, letting you set custom permissions and roles by organisation, teams and members. This concept makes Hootsuite an ideal option if you will have a lot of people using the platform with specific permissions.
You don’t need to always login to the Hootsuite or Buffer dashboard to share something on the social media accounts you are handling. You can add any web page on the queue (or share it right away) via the browser extensions offered by both. Additionally, you can also install additional apps on your Hootsuite or Buffer account to enhance their functionalities. For instance, the Buffer and Zapier integration allows you to push content from over 400 other apps to Buffer automatically. Or, you can also install the Streamview for YouTube app on Hootsuite to schedule and bulk upload your YouTube videos from Hootsuite.
Hootsuite is superior than Buffer in terms of additional apps, but most of the available apps require you spend extra money as well to add them.
Hootsuite and Buffer are basically have a different focus. Hootsuite is a purely social media management tool so the features offered by this tool are also more complex. Buffer, on the other hand, is rather a content publishing tool. But, they both have things in common in some ways.
If you just need to schedule social media posts without making any further analysis over the performance of the contents (or your social media channel generally), Buffer is a better suited. It offers simpler features and easier to use. Conversely, if you are looking for a tool with a full social media management tool functionalities, Hootsuite is the right tool.
Overall winner: Hootsuite