Buffer vs. Timely vs. Hootsuite: Which Solution to Choose?

by Jospeh Manna November 7th, 2011 

Scheduling tweets and content to go out at pre-defined times is quite popular now. There are a number of tweet-scheduling solutions available and I want to share my thoughts on what solutions may work for you.

By day, I am a community manager for small business marketing automation software company, Infusionsoft. There, I manage the companys social media efforts and build our online community. I create a lot of content, generate leads and build our loyal community around the clock and I need a solution that keeps up with my team.

When selecting the right solution, I considered the following benefits:

Smart Scheduling. Being based in Arizona, Im never awake when New York wakes up or when Sydney is fires up their Twitter. This is where using a tweet-scheduling app is ideal.

Performance Tracking. I need to monitor and track the performance of the pieces of content published. This has a real impact as to the types of content we share, when it is shared and how frequently I post it. I often review my previous posts to uncover new patterns

Ease of Use. I need the software to be free of any unnecessary clutter. Its like a new Ferrari versus a 68 Camaro. Sure, clutchless paddle shifters are nice, but when you want to have 325 horsepower hook up effectively, you want to use a manual gearbox to deliver it to the wheels. Less clutter means more focus, especially when my goal is to publish content and measure the response to it.

Team Collaboration. The ability to have my team contribute was essential. Its not that I distrust my team; I want us to work effectively together within this app. Double-publishing content is a disservice to our audience, so knowing what were all doing is necessary.

With these three benefits in mind, Ive been using a number of solutions to see what fits my needs best. Like many small businesses, I use Hootsuite for day-to-day monitoring and engagement. Ive recently used BufferApp after recent buzz they earned. Overall, Ive been loyal using Timely. Ill explain what I like about each of these popular solutions each below.

Hootsuite

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Hootsuite offers great scheduling features. I recommend using them when you have a large number you wish to import and manage that way.

For casual scheduling of updates, you have to be too specific with date and time; this causes unnecessary stress or friction.

Hootsuite is easy to use but there are times when the complexity causes me to pause and think about what Im doing. Its powerful — even more so when you are on their premium plan.

You can publish updates to Facebook and other networks. It can also track content publishing effectiveness comprehensively due to their tight Google Analytics integration.

Buffer

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Buffer is a relative newcomer on the scene of publishing scheduled content.

In addition to Twitter, they have Facebook publishing support, but its not something I need.

Their concept is that you specify (or it guesses) the ideal times to publish 4-10 times daily.

It makes it easy to see the results of your published items.

One area that needs improvement is the box where you draft your message from " it lets you exceed 140 characters and doesnt auto-shorten URLs. I also notice little quirks in the UI, which are likely caused by the youth of the company and technology and will get better.

They offer plenty of browser-based add-ons that help with scheduling content on the go " which is brilliant for content hunters.

Timely

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Timely gets the job done and does it well.

Ive been using them for the better part of six months and have loved the product that the guys at Flowtown developed.

Its simple to use because it only does two things: publish content and measure its impact specifically to Twitter.

Their concept is unique in how they schedule content to be published — its quite simple, its a surprise no one else has caught on yet — when setting up your account, the app scans your Twitter for mentions and determines the ideal times when your audience is most active around the clock. It then uses these times dynamically to assign when content will be published with no additional tinkering needed.

It auto-shortens URLs in the creation of messages so its a great asset to have quickly draft up tweets. In the beginning, Id share feedback with Dan Martell on the app and he and the team have been responsive, so that helps earn my loyalty, too.

So, Which Solution Is Right For You?

It depends entirely on your needs. I have a need to share unique, interesting and fun posts around the clock because we have a global audience; not all businesses necessarily have such a diverse audience. Also, it depends on your reporting needs " we love to track the ROI and performance of our social media efforts. I recommend trying all of them, use them for a few weeks and see what fits your needs.

Given all the choices, I prefer Timely because of it forces you as a publisher to focus on the message, not the time of day it goes out. In a recent study by Aygyle Social, it was determined that the specific hours/times of publishing don't matter, but instead the around-the-clock engagements do. Timely makes this possible with their simple solution to schedule Tweets. If I needed Facebook content to be scheduled, I'd use Hootsuite or Buffer, but again, it's not a high priority for me.

Jospeh Manna

Joe Manna is the Community Manager for marketing automation software company, Infusionsoft. By day, he helps users stay connected to the company and each other. By night, he cruises the city in his Camaro and helping business owners use social media.

Infusionsoft

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6 Responses to “Buffer vs. Timely vs. Hootsuite: Which Solution to Choose?”

  1. Gerri says:

    Hootsuite I love, Buffer is good for those things you find online that you think your followers might be interested in but don't want to bombard them link after link at one go. Timely I havent tried but will do so right now to see if it will help maximise on my tweets.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for the writeup. I have been using Timely but wanted to check out some competitive tools and didn't know where to begin. I'm not thrilled with Tweetdeck at all.

    Your article was … timely for me. :)

  3. doug hay says:

    Thanks for the insight. I've been using Hootsuite with success, good to see the other options as no service fits all client needs.

  4. Amanda says:

    Timely is okay for some things. Limitations: articles posted on facebook through Timely cannot be "shared" with other people. It also selects the thumbnail picture pretty arbitrarily. You cannot choose this picture. So even if there is a lovely photo of a sunset beach accompanying the article, the facebook post will probably use the picture from the cologne ad in the margin.