Should you upgrade to Buffer for Business?
In December, Buffer introduced three new levels of paid services, all within the "Buffer for Business" umbrella. The Awesome plan is still just $10/month and includes unlimited posts, up to twelve connected profiles, and 2 Team members. The three new levels unlock more slots for social profiles and more team members, and range in price from $50 to $250 a month.
Most of the businesses I work with, including myself, just don't have enough social profiles or team members to warrant the upgrade. But Buffer has recently released additional features and functionality that make Buffer for Business more compelling.
In case you've never used Buffer, let's do a quick review. For most small to medium business owners, one of the struggles when it comes to an effective social media presence is maintaining daily activity during peak usage times. Those times will certainly vary from network to network, audience to audience, but it's likely that the times that Facebook, Google+ and Twitter are most active for your target audience is also when you're already hard at work on your business.
That's where Buffer comes in.
When you create a Buffer account (and there's a free option as well you can try), you will connect one or more social profiles, and then set a schedule for every day you want to be active. Let's assume you have a Facebook Page, Twitter account and Google+ Page, and that you want to make sure you share at least one update a day for each profile. Each network gets it's own schedule, so your Facebook posts don't necessarily have to go out at the same time as your Tweets. Once you've picked days and times for posting, you now have a "queue" to fill.
UPDATE: Buffer has now added Pinterest Boards for all paid plans.
You can craft posts within Buffer to go into your queue, including text, images and links with link previews. Or you can use one of the browser extensions to give yourself a button to press on any of your content or other articles you share, facilitating easy adding of content to your queue.
Your posts can and should include hashtags and good form, and you can even use Google+ formatting. I use Buffer to make sure that my old, evergreen content continues to get visibility and spark some discussions, and I have very different schedules for all my connected accounts. I've often referred to Buffer as the "killer app" for social media, but to answer your unspoken question, yes, I still use HootSuite and here's why.
Updated Buffer for Business
So that brings us to today. Buffer has announced that all of the Buffer for Business plans have received some shiny new toys and features, including:
- Google Analytics Integration
- Social Follower Growth Tracking
- Analytics By Date-Range
- Individual Day Analytics
Combined, these represent a tremendous leap in the value of Buffer as a tool not just for maintaining activity, but actually measuring and analyzing that actvity over time.
For instance, up until now, even with the paid accounts, Buffer users had access to analytics for how specific posts had performed, but they were aggregate data sets. You could see how many Clicks, Retweets and Favorites a specific tweet has received, but if you've every taken a completed tweet and inserted it back into your queue, any stats would be all-time. That's because each post uses a single shortened buff.ly link.
Did I lose you there? Here's a scenario that I go through all the time. Each month, I will load up my Twitter account with a couple hundred tweets with links to past articles. I use Buffer to send out 9 tweets per day, spread out throughout the day, so my queue lasts me a few weeks and then I'll get an alert from Buffer that I need to refill it. The first place I go is my Analytics tab for my Twitter profile so I can go back and see which past tweets performed the best. Those are the ones I will consider sharing again, as they would typically represent articles that are of the most interest to my followers. Resharing is a simple matter of clicking the tweet and dragging it to my Twitter account, thus adding it back into my queue. When I do that, even if I change the text of the tweet, the link itself, which is shortened using Buffer's proprietary buff.ly shortener, remains intact. All statistics are based on that specific shortened link. If it received 2 clicks the first time it was shared and 3 more clicks the second time, my Statistics will simply show a total of 5 clicks. The problem of course is that over time, with a high volume of updates, it becomes impossible to tell if an update is still receiving interest and engagement, or if it's outlived it's usefulness.
With the new Buffer for Business analytics, I will be able to look at an update that's performing well and review how well it's done over time as well as during a specific timeframe, or even just today.
That functionality alone might be worth the extra monthly spend, but Buffer didn't stop there.
Google Analytics Integration
Google Analytics integration is a smart move. It allows savvy marketers to set up specific campaigns and UTMs and gain greater insights into how well these campaigns are performing and how much traffic their social media posts are driving to their websites.
Because without specific campaign UTMs, all businesses can get from Google Analytics is that XX people have come to their site and some specific pages from which social networks. You cannot tell if the traffic was due to one of your posts or a share that someone else created by clicking one of your social sharing buttons on that page. Furthermore, marketers can use A/B testing and different UTMs to test variations in campaigns and messages.
If you've ever seen a spike in traffic from LinkedIn or Facebook and had no idea where it came from, you'll understand how this can help. While you still won't be able to track traffic back to specific posts from other people, you will be able to see how your own shares are doing and compare to the rest of your social media referral traffic.
Follower Count Growth
Being able to track how much follower counts have grown, particularly in relation to recent social media campaigns, is huge. There are great tools to track that for Google+, but the other networks are more challenging. HootSuite does offer some similar functionality that I will be including in my article on setting up HootSuite reports.
But here, Buffer offers that information at a glance:
With all of these new features, Buffer for Business is looking far more attractive and compelling, both for myself and for my business clients. How about you? Is this functionality and data worth a few more bucks a month to you?
And as always, if you're looking for help coming up with a successful strategy for your business, or help managing your day-to-day social media activity, please contact me.
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By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner - a title he invented to represent his holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blogging, social media, email marketing and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales. He is an award-winning Blogger, Speaker, and Author at The Social Media Hat, and Brand Evangelist at Agorapulse (formerly CMO at SiteSell).
As Brand Evangelist, Mike works directly with other social media educators, influencers, agencies and brands to explore and develop profitable relationships with Agorapulse.Follow @Mike_Allton