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Guest

Simple Tool, Small Wonder: Buffer App

By: Guest | October 10, 2011 | 
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Today’s guest is post is written by Jay Pinkert.

Amidst all the froth about the new Facebook features and the general release of Google+, it’s easy for social media professionals not to spend much time considering the importance of simple tools.

We can get so focused on mastering the “next big thing” that we overlook applications that might seem basic to some.

But to others have the potential to fundamentally affect whether and how they can productively engage in social media.

For solo and small business owners who have the desire to participate in social media but believe they do not have the time to do so effectively, something as modest as an easier way to compose and schedule tweets can be transformational.

It’s in that sense the Buffer app is a “small wonder.”

While it’s generally thought of as just a tweet scheduling tool, my experience has been that it unlocks the promise of social media for businesses that have been sitting on the sidelines.

Unlike dashboard applications such as HootSuite and TweetDeck, which only allow tweets to be scheduled from within the client, Buffer enables users to compose tweets through a Chrome browser extension, then immediately post or add them to a queue without leaving the web page you’re reading.

Tweets placed in the Buffer queue are sent individually and sequentially based on the recurring schedule you’ve set for that day (as opposed to the Twitter clients mentioned above, which require scheduling to be done as each post is composed).

Schedule as many per day as you like (within reason and follower tolerance, of course).

You can essentially ignore Buffer at that point, but if you choose to, you can edit, reorder, delete, or immediately post your pending tweets from the dashboard.

OK, Buffer might be a one-trick pony right now — but what a trick!

I’m a voracious web surfer and RSS feed reader, and share a lot of content that I find interesting and actionable. But because I tend to do my surfing in the morning and late at night, before Buffer I had to manually copy/paste links and individually schedule a lot of my tweets to space them out.

As a result, I shared less content than I would have liked because scheduling was too cumbersome and time-consuming. Now I can tweet without breaking stride, and without inundating my followers with great clumps of tweets — “set it and forget it,” to borrow a Ron Popeil phrase.

That alone is well worth $10 a month.

So How Is that Transformational?

Buffer has been a very productive tool for me, but for some of my clients it has been almost revelatory.

I work primarily with professional firms and small service businesses, many of whom are wary of – or outright intimidated by – the perceived demands of social media. They understand they’re missing out on marketing and networking opportunities by not participating, but it’s difficult for them to envision an engagement strategy and tactics that would work for them.

For some, Buffer has broken through that reluctance and doubt because it meets them where they are in the adoption curve. It makes sense, it’s easy, it’s immediately useful, and it builds their confidence in – and appetite for — social media engagement.

Jay Pinkert is a principal with Shatterbox, an Austin-based marketing and communications consultancy that helps professional firms and small businesses generate leads and distinguish their brand through content-driven programs. You can find him on LinkedIn.

Before you leave! Are you joining us this week for our webinar? How to Develop a Content Marketing Plan, presented by the Steveology himself, Steve Farnsworth and Gini Dietrich. Steve will walk you through the steps needed to not only create a plan, but to put that plan into action. Thursday October 13 at 11:00 a.m. CT. This webinar is $50 and you can buy it by clicking here.
51 comments
imari
imari

Bufferapp always seems to suck for me. It always fails to post, and then there's some error. Honestly, if you do one thing, and you can't even do that.. then it's time to stop.

dwaynekilbourne
dwaynekilbourne

I use Buffer and even added the Buffer Button on my blogs so other Buffer users could more easily add my content to their buffer! Right, @desireescales

HurstAaron
HurstAaron

Thanks for the post, Jay. Buffer is absolutely essential to my daily tweetsphere. I'm still using the free version and love it.

I typically include the #in to filter several posts a day through my LinkedIn profile also to provide a more dynamic/interactive experience there.

Stuart Mills
Stuart Mills

Wow, I love it when social media gets simple - I feel like this is what social media was designed for in the first place.

Why over-complicate our social media time with more gadgets and gizmos? Why not stick with what works, and forget the rest. Then if something no longer works, replace it with something that does, and throw out the old thing.

Simple right?

kamichat
kamichat

@vargasl It takes all of this from impossible to possible. Now, you also need to check your stream 5-6 times a day to chat.

Tinu
Tinu

Hey Jay - believe you're completely right on this one. I've recently noticed a feature it has that helps me time my tweets better as well. Since the number of clicks a message got is shown with the time and the subject, it's easier for me to see that sometimes reach isn't about timing, it's about how topical that conversation is to the time of day, events that happened that day, or who is on. The third one I already had data on but the first two I only had instinctive clues on, in terms of specificity to my own audience. Really enjoying Buffer. And yes, quite a few sites have a similar idea. But interface and simplicity often seal the deal.

TimBaran
TimBaran

Great post, Jay. I'm a convert. For a long-time Twitter user who tried all of the third party apps and kept coming back to the beautifully simple web based interface, Buffer app is a god send. I like to think of it as an app to manage rather than schedule tweets. I can RT with commentary now with one click right from twitter.com. Very cool. And that @LeoWid is a one man clinic on community management. I'd like to see the Firefox browser extension work better, but overall, a sweet app.

FranchiseKing
FranchiseKing

Thanks a lot, Jay. Sounds pretty cool.

Hoot is a freaking Hoot for sure.

Scheduling stuff is a pain, though.

Gini told me to read this. So I did. My Royal comment is a Royal bonus.

Right, Gini?

The Franchise King®

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

I have a question. Is it only for Chrome? Because I read a lot in my Reeder app on the iPad and the only way I have to share the content is to email it to myself and then schedule in SocialOomph.

Oh...Lisa already asked that. @LeoWid I need it in the Reeder app. Stat!

Lisa Gerber
Lisa Gerber

I love Buffer too. I use it for the @spinsucks account. I find it useful, because as you mention, Jay, I am doing my reading at night or in the morning. This way, I can space it out over the course of the day, and pop back in and interact with people who had reactions or thoughts to my shared posts. So there is no loss in personal engagement.

But @LeoWid , now that we have your attention, any plans to make it work for iPad and specifically for Flipboard? PLEEEASE? I do love the extension in my RSS reader on my desktop.

wagnerwrites
wagnerwrites

I LOVE BUFFER. I whined publicly on Twitter when the Buffer plug-in stopped working with a recent update of Firefox, and actually stopped going thru my RSS feeds for a time. I don't listen to people who criticize tools like Buffer as "bot" type operations - especially since these are the same people who say that timing is everything. It's actually more effective and courteous to space out the content sharing. Thanks for this post!

LeoWid
LeoWid

Wow, thanks so much for this thorough review Jay, this is an incredible testimonial for us.

Particularly your use case of Google Reader and Buffer is one I am sure many others will find useful. It is exactly how I am using Buffer myself! :)

Let me Buffer this post for sure.

rjfrasca
rjfrasca

I have used buffer since it first came out and it completely changed my twitter experience. Rather than jump on periodically throughout the day and slaughter everyone's timelines, I am now fairly evenly paced. I have spoken with Leo of Buffer a few times and he is amazing. He has helped me with a couple issues nearly immediately every time I had one with an extension, something not posting, etc.

I was previously scheduling tweets through tweetdeck and hootsuite which was incredibly difficult to manage daily with any consistency.

The time I do have to spend on twitter now is used to actually converse with others, which made me enjoy using it that much more.

Shonali
Shonali

Nice tip, Jay, thank you! How do you think Buffer stands up against things like Shareaholic, etc., which you can also use as a browser extension?

FollowtheLawyer
FollowtheLawyer

@HurstAaron Thanks for your kind words. You make an important point. For someone managing only one Twitter account and he/she is the only user, the free version is more than ample and a remarkable value.

FollowtheLawyer
FollowtheLawyer

@Tinu I always come back to the same things: a simple solution of immense value to novice and advanced social media participants alike.

FollowtheLawyer
FollowtheLawyer

Thanks, Tim. I need to thank you, too, for turning me on to Buffer in the first place.

LeoWid
LeoWid

@ginidietrich Gini, yes, so Buffer actually works already with a feature on Reeder and Ipad. Instead of emailing it to yourself, you simply email it to add@to.bufferapp.com and your Tweet is set to go. Hope that helps.

You can also read up more on it here: http://blog.bufferapp.com/add-to-buffer-from-your-mobile

Let me know if you have any more questions on this, keen to get you all set up. :)

kamichat
kamichat

@ginidietrich@LeoWid I use Scoop.It on my Android Tablet, think they have a version for the iPad, too, then I Share With HootSuite from there. However, this looks like a supplemental tool for me. Thanks.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@Lisa Gerber You read in Flipboard?! That gives me a headache. You'll have to show me how you use it.

FollowtheLawyer
FollowtheLawyer

@wagnerwrites I'm glad you mentioned the "bot" issue, because scheduling is very different insofar as it's selective -- not automated -- and frequently entails additional, personalizing comment. And as you note, it's courteous.

Saving time on scheduling gives you more time for thoughtful sharing.

Shonali
Shonali

@LeoWid Thank you for coming up with this! Being able to share from within Reader is a huge plus, and I'm going to try that as soon as I can.

FollowtheLawyer
FollowtheLawyer

Well-deserved. I'd been waiting for just such an add-on literally for years. Looking forward to seeing how it evolves.

FollowtheLawyer
FollowtheLawyer

@rjfrasca Liberating, isn't it? And your point about Leo listening, engaging and working to quickly address issues is a distinguishing characteristic, too. For a two-person operation they generate a lot of value.

FollowtheLawyer
FollowtheLawyer

@Shonali Excellent point. Shareaholic is certainly a much more robust platform in both the number of browser extensions and the number of social sites supported. The reason I singled out Buffer is that it's immediately comprehensible and usable by individuals new to social media, which I believe is an under-served, overlooked and HUGE population. I've found Shareaholic to be a tough sell to small businesses and professional firms because it's TOO sophisticated and intimidating.

I recently started testing Timely, which only allows 4 tweets a day, but theoretically provides longitudinal analysis of the best time of day specifically for your tweets (instead of general trends).

What do you use? Any others on your radar?

Lisa Gerber
Lisa Gerber

@ginidietrich yes! I really like Flipboard and have more than my RSS in there. I'll show you. :) and as far as the Reader app goes, you can put it in the Google Reader and it is awe.some.

wow, i've never used my google reader just in my browser on the ipad. I'm going to check it now.

LeoWid
LeoWid

@FollowtheLawyer@Lisa Gerber@spinsucks Hi Lisa and Jay, so glad Buffer is useful for you.

Yes, absolutely, we are working with readerapps like Flipboard and others to integrate it with Buffer. Our API is nearly ready and we will start first integrations soon thereafter! :)

wagnerwrites
wagnerwrites

@FollowtheLawyer Yes, that's right - I forgot to mention the fact that adding a personalized comment (which I do in 99% of the cases) makes it especially helpful.

Shonali
Shonali

@FollowtheLawyer I tried Buffer and I really do like its simplicity. And like you say, when people are new to something, it's better to start off with something that's simple.

One tool I LOVE is Post Planner for Facebook (wrote about it here: http://www.waxingunlyrical.com/2011/07/29/why-post-planner-white-label-has-me-enchanted/). I actually set up Buffer for Facebook and will see how that goes, but what I really like about @postplanner is the way you can schedule posts to a number of different FB properties, i.e. your own page, profile, group, etc. It's very cool - plus the white label app gives you a branded link back to your own site/blog (they set that up for you). So right now, I'm still leaning towards PP.

JulieCros
JulieCros

Hi Shonali, Hi Jay! Thanks Shonali for mentioning us and so pleased to read you enjoy our sweet app :-)

Jay, we'd love you to give Post Planner a try! Will shoot you an email to set you up ok?

Thanks again Shonali!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] More Excuses October 28, 2011 By jaypinkert Leave a Comment This post originally appeared on the Spin Sucks blog Oct. [...]

  2. [...] love Buffer, and not just because Jay Pinkert posted such a thorough write-up of it on Spin Sucks. Buffer has made a lot of changes in recent months. It introduced an iPhone app not too long ago, [...]