UPDATE: Changes to the FREE Plan as of 04/05/2021
With so many available social media management tools and software applications, it’s no wonder that one of the most FAQs we hear from social media managers in our Facebook Group is “Which is the best tool for a social media manager?” Answering that question is tricky – but we also know that when we say ‘it depends’ it does not help someone decide on what tools to purchase for their social media management business.
Whereas a lot of social media managers are self employed thus small business owners, many social media managers are in-house and work for an employer. We are going to review Buffer vs Hootsuite from the standpoint of a ‘social media manager‘, not an owner.
Today we are going to focus on one specific question about two popular scheduling tools and mind you, we are going to go pretty deep to answer it!
Here we go:
Buffer vs Hootsuite: Which is the best tool for a social media manager?
Buffer and Hootsuite have both been around for quite some time when you look at the lifespan of most social media related tools. While many new tools have come and gone, both Hootsuite and Buffer have loyal customers who’ve stuck with them through interface changes, social media algorithm changes and a global pandemic, just to name a few major events.
Social media managers are always looking for tools to help them do their job better, faster and more efficient, for the best price. Therefore, this article will mainly focus on comparing Buffer vs Hootsuite on:
Since both Buffer and Hootsuite have a free version, let's start there.
Buffer's free version offers scheduling capability on the following platforms:
Buffer offers free scheduling to Facebook Pages, Facebook Groups, Instagram Business accounts, Twitter, LinkedIn Profiles and LinkedIn Pages. Pinterest scheduling is not included in their free version. (See screenshot below.)
Conclusion: While the free 14-day trial lets you ‘try' out up to 8 accounts, Buffer's free version offers scheduling capability for only 3 connected accounts and 10 posts at a time. Pinterest scheduling is not possible without a paid account.
Social Media Manager Perspective: The free Buffer plan is a great place to start for the budding social media manager who would like to schedule their own content. The free version is not really functional for client work.
The Final Grade: C+
The free version of Hootsuite offers the following:
Hootsuite's supported social networks on their free plan include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Hootsuite offers scheduling to 3 profiles on their free plan.
Conclusion: Hootsuite's free version offers scheduling capability for up to 3 connected accounts and up to 30 scheduled posts.
Social Media Manager Perspective: The free version of Hootsuite is an OK place to start for the budding social media manager with just one client.
The Final Grade: B-
Next up is pricing for Buffer:
Conclusion: Buffer is reasonably priced and offers several packages. Pro Tip: Chat with the Buffer team. You *might* find that they can offer you a lower price, or have a special deal!
Social Media Manager Perspective: For a brand new social media manager, $15/month is a reasonable charge. The 8 social media channels and up to 100 scheduled posts should cover at least two clients, possibly 3, while the $65/month fee for ‘growing brands' looks to be a great option for a freelancing social media manager scaling their business.
Final Grade: A-
Hootsuite's pricing packages are as follows:
Conclusion: Hootsuite's packages vary greatly in price and seem to be a good for established brands and agencies, more so than for budding social media managers and start-ups.
Social Media Manager Perspective: When first starting out as a social media manager, $129/month is a huge monthly bill and quite a chunk of money. While $29/month certainly sounds better, it's still double the price of the basic Buffer plan.
Final Grade: B-
Besides scheduling social posts, Buffer offers additional features that are useful for a busy social media manager, in terms of functionality.
They include Google Analytics Tracking, Link Shortening and Multichannel Campaign Tracking. For an additional cost, robust performance analytics can be obtained.
Conclusion: Besides scheduling, Buffer offers tools to measure social media campaign success across multiple platforms.
Social Media Manager Perspective: Clients are concerned with and want as much data as possible, therefor the campaign tracking tools Buffer offers are super!
Final Grade: B+
Hootsuite also offers additional features that are useful for a busy social media manager, in terms of functionality.
Conclusion: Hootsuite offers a way to monitor all your social media channels in one spot, which is great for any social media manager as well as a community manager!
Social Media Manager Perspective: The importance of social listening and engagement can not be overstated! Hootsuite allows for constant monitoring and immediately response of all channels, in one spot.
Final Grade: A-
Buffer offers several features that are great for a busy social media manager, in terms of efficiency.
Conclusion: Buffer is an efficient tool that will save the busy social media manager time and effort to manage their client's content all in one place.
Social Media Manager Perspective: Additional features like the Chrome extension, Pablo Image Creator, Share Again and Pause Queue allow a social media manager to combine tasks to save time!
Final Grade: B+
Hootsuite also offers features that are useful for a busy social media manager, in terms of efficiency.
Conclusion: Hootsuite offers access to a library of free images and allows for Facebook promotion through the Hootsuite dashboard, along with integration of many other useful apps.
Social Media Manager Perspective: Adding apps to Hootsuite can be game-changing for a social media manager! Having access to productivity tools within the dashboard will allow for greater efficiency.
Final Grade: A–
Conclusion: Simple. Easy. Scheduling Tool.
Social Media Manager Perspective: Simple to set up. Easy to learn. Quick scheduling tool.
Final Grade: B+
Conclusion: Hootsuite is more than a scheduling tool.
Social Media Manager Perspective: For the social media manager who besides scheduling also needs to listen, respond and engage with audiences, this is a great multi-purpose tool.
Final Grade: A-
It's a tie!
If you are in need of a simple but robust scheduling tool, choose Buffer.
When you need a monitoring tool that also schedules content, choose Hootsuite.
If you are on a tight budget, try Buffer.
However, when you want to streamline productivity, try Hootsuite.
While we are calling it a tie, we want to look at a few additional consideration that might make, or break, this tie!
Ready for some additional feedback?
As you grow your social media management business, your needs as a social media manager change. When choosing a tool, it is important to keep your growth strategy and overall social media strategy in mind!
The best tool is the one you use and when your business changes, so will your need for new tool functions and features change.
Here are some additional functions and features to look for:
Both Buffer and Hootsuite offer all of these features but they are available at different levels and for the more expensive plans.
Doing your own research is imperative to choosing any tool.
If you are still on the fence bout which tool to commit to, we recommend
Only then can you declare a winner in this Buffer vs Hootsuite competition!
I am a Certified Social Media Manager, Strategist, International Keynote Speaker, Organic Specialist and Agile marketer! Blogging is my creative outlet. Running, hiking and skiing are how I recharge. You'll recognize me on stage and online by my always present orange glasses, a nod to my Dutch heritage.