The rise of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn has given businesses new ways to reach customers and promote their brands.
However, managing multiple social media accounts, scheduling, and publishing content, tracking reactions and analytics, and engaging with the audience can be overwhelming.
Social media management tools like Hootsuite and Buffer aim to simplify the process with features like content scheduling, post analytics, social listening, and more.
But between the two, which one should you go for?
Hootsuite vs. Buffer: The Basics
Hootsuite is a social media management platform that allows users to track all their social media channels in one place.
On the other hand, Buffer is a social media scheduling tool that allows users to automate posting content to their social media accounts.
Both are similar in many ways in that they offer similar features, but some key differences make one “better” than the other. By “better,” we mean the tool more suited to your specific needs.
To help you decide, we will compare and contrast the two tools across different categories:
- Ease of use – Which tool is easier to use? How easy is it to set up and navigate? Does it take a lot of time to learn?
- Analytics – What kind of data and insights does each tool provide? Are the reports easy to understand and actionable?
- Content scheduling – How easy is it to schedule content in advance? Can you recycle content? Can you schedule content manually?
- Engagement – Does the tool make it easy to engage with your audience? Does the tool make it easy to keep track of conversations? Can you monitor comments and mentions? Can you respond to them directly from the tool?
- Pricing – How much does each tool cost? Is there a free trial? Are there any discounts available?
- Team management – If you have a team of social media managers, does the tool make it easy to manage them? Can you assign tasks and approve posts?
- Integrations – Does the tool integrate with other platforms you use? Does it have all the integrations you need? Do the integrations add value?
1. Ease of Use
One big difference between Hootsuite and Buffer is the user interface. We will compare their dashboards to get a feel of the difference in user interface.
Hootsuite’s dashboard can be customized to display the information and metrics that are most important to you. For example, by clicking the Analytics tab, you can review engagement stats to see your top-performing posts on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Some of the key features that you can use to customize Hootsuite’s dashboard are:
Streams – Streams option helps you display all your social media activity in one place. This lets you monitor activity across your social networks. For example, you can also use Streams to discover the most trending topics.
Analytics– Provides detailed analytics for each of your social media channels. You can monitor your Facebook engagement, post-performance, the best time to publish, etc.
Composer – Allows you to draft, schedule, and publish content. You can publish content to different channels or multiple channels at once. You can even tweak the content for each individual channel by just clicking on the network icon above the content box.
Publisher – You can publish content across all your social media channels with just one click.
Inbox – Keeps track of all your social media activity in one place. This includes comments, messages, and mentions. You can also reply to them directly from the Inbox.
Buffer has a more simplified interface/dashboard. When you log in, you are taken to your “Queue,” which is where all your scheduled content is displayed. The dashboard then has three more tabs:
Publishing tab – This tab shows a content calendar that lets you see all your scheduled content in one place. You can also edit and reschedule content from the calendar. This tab also contains the Campaigns button that lets you build campaigns across channels.
Engagement tab – This tab lets you see how well your content is performing.
Analytics tab – Provides detailed analytics for each of your social media channels.
Both platforms take some time to get used to, but Hootsuite’s dashboard can be more overwhelming, especially if you are new to social media management. It’s very feature-rich.
Buffer’s simpler interface makes it easier to use but has limits. For example, Buffer does not have a “Streams” feature like Hootsuite, so you cannot view all your social media activity in one place.
When marketing via social media, analytics is key to understanding what’s working and not.
Both Hootsuite and Buffer offer detailed analytics for each social media channel. However, there are some differences in the data types each platform tracks.
Buffer provides analytics on specific posts. This means basic data like post-performance, the best time to post, and engagement.
This is because Buffer identifies itself as a “publishing and scheduling tool” first and foremost. So, if you’re looking for in-depth analytics, Buffer may not be the best option.
However, Buffer has Buffer Analyze, a tool for measuring social media performance and creating reports. This tool provides one dashboard to track the performance of popular social media networks like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Buffer Analyze also gives you recommendations on how to grow reach and engagement.
Hootsuite, on the other hand, provides more comprehensive analytics. In addition to post performance and engagement, Hootsuite also tracks metrics like click-through rate (CTR), sentiment, and impressions.
With Hootsuite Analytics, you can create custom reports like organic, performance, and overview reports.
Hootsuite Analytics even lets you set goals and track progress over time. For example, you can set a goal to increase website traffic from social media by 10% in the next month. Hootsuite will suggest how to achieve that goal best and track your progress.
These are some of the popular suggestions from Hootsuite — to find out how your posts performed on socials:
- You should review your overall post performance
- Analyze post performance by the social network
- Analyze post performance by goals
In 2014, Hootsuite took it further by acquiring uberVU, a social media analytics company. This has allowed Hootsuite to provide even more insights, including competitor analysis and social media listening.
Social media listening is the process of tracking conversations about your brand or industry across social media. This helps you understand what people are saying about you and identify potential issues.
3. Content Scheduling and Publishing
Both Hootsuite and Buffer offer content scheduling. This means that you can write and publish your posts in advance, and the platform will automatically post the content at the scheduled time.
This is a great feature if you want to make sure your social media accounts are active even when you’re busy or away.
Both tools allow you to source and publish content collected from RSS feeds.
Also, on both platforms, you can tweak your content for different platforms. For example, you can write a Twitter post but edit it before it’s scheduled to be posted on Facebook.
With Hootsuite, you can schedule content for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, and Instagram. You can choose to post immediately or schedule your content for later.
Hootsuite also has a bulk scheduling feature that lets you bulk schedule.
To bulk schedule on Hootsuite:
- Download Hootsuite’s bulk composer file – click Publisher >> Content >> Bulk Composer >> Download example to download the bulk composer file.
- Fill out the CSV file – add captions, URLs, dates, and times you want the posts to be published.
Note: You can only schedule 350 posts at a given time.
- Upload the CSV file to Hootsuite – Go to Publisher >> Content >> Bulk Composer >> Select file to upload.
- Review and edit your posts. This tool also automatically flags errors for you in the CSV file.
- After you are done reviewing and correcting errors, bulk schedule your posts.
Buffer also lets you schedule content for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, Google Business Profile, and Instagram.
With Buffer’s Publish tool, you can choose to have your content published multiple times at specific intervals.
You can also choose to have your content published immediately, or you can schedule it for later.
To schedule on Buffer:
- Log in to your Buffer account.
- Click the Create Post link button on the top-right corner of your dashboard.
- Select the social network you want to schedule by clicking the icon at the top of the composer box.
- Customize your post – you can tweak it differently for different social networks.
- Depending on your scheduling preference, you can click on Add to Queue, Share Now, Schedule Post, or Save as Draft.
Alt: Creating and scheduling a post in Buffer
One advantage that Buffer has over Hootsuite is that you can see your content calendar. This lets you see all the scheduled content in one place, and it helps visualize your content strategy.
However, Hootsuite has a bulk scheduler option, which is unavailable on Buffer.
4. Social Conversation Engagement
Conversation engagement is responding to comments and messages left by your followers on social media. Or in other words, it’s customer service on social media.
This is important in social media management because it helps build relationships with your customers and followers. It also helps you resolve any issues they may have.
But managing all messages from different social networks can be difficult and time-consuming.
Hootsuite’s Inbox tool consolidates all your messages from different social networks into one place. This makes it easier to keep track of and respond to messages.
With Hootsuite inbox, you can:
- View all messages in one inbox.
- Filter messages by network, type, or urgency.
- Respond to messages directly from the inbox.
- Assign messages to team members.
Buffer had a tool called Reply for conversation engagement. But in 2020, they retired this tool. This means that Buffer no longer has a consolidated inbox for social media messages.
Instead, Buffer partnered with other social support tools like Sparkcentral, Zoho Desk, and Zendesk.
However, Buffer says they are building a new social conversation engagement tool that will be available and accessible to all Buffer customers.
5. Team Management and Collaboration
If you manage a social media team, you know how important it is to have a tool that lets you easily assign tasks, give feedback, and track progress.
This lets you manage your team more effectively and avoid any bottlenecks in your workflow.
Hootsuite lets you create groups within your organization. This makes it easy to give different team members access to different social networks.
For example, you can create a group for your content team and give them access to your Twitter and Facebook accounts.
You can also create a group for your customer service team and give them access to your Twitter and Instagram accounts.
This way, you can easily control who has access to which social networks.
Buffer also lets you share access to your social media accounts with team members. You can add team members and give them different permissions, such as access to posts, approve posts, or view analytics.
You can also add team members to specific social networks. For example, you can add a team member to your Twitter account but not your Facebook account.
Both Hootsuite and Buffer have similar team management and collaboration features.
Content Approval Features
Hootsuite’s content approval feature lets you review and approve content before it’s published.
This is helpful if you want to ensure all your content is high-quality and on-brand.
In Hootsuite, team members with roles of Limited, Responder, or Custom-Publish Message with Approval require approval from an Admin or Owner before their messages are published.
To approve a message, visit Planner and click on the Content tab. On the left, select Require My Approval. Select a post to review it. If you want to edit the content before approving it, select Edit.
Note: You cannot edit Instagram comments and replies.
When you’re ready, select Approve or Reject.
Buffer’s content approval feature is similar. With Buffer, team members with roles assigned as “Approval Required” will have their content sent to an approver for review.
Approvers can publish the content, edit it, or delete it.
- Reviewing posts – Go to the Content tab. Under For Review tab, you will see all posts that need reviewing.
- Approving posts – Click on the Approve button to approve a post. The post will be scheduled and published according to the queue scheduling.
- Editing posts – Click the Edit button to edit a post. You can then make changes to the post and save it. You can change the text, link, or image to suit your needs better.
- Deleting posts – If you don’t want to approve a post, you can delete it. To delete a post, click on the Delete button.
Overall, both Hootsuite and Buffer have similar team management and collaboration features, but Hootsuite’s content approval feature is slightly more robust.
Winner: Hootsuite and Buffer
Integrations and extensions are important for social media management tools because they make it easy to connect your tool with other software you use.
For example, you might want to connect your social media management tool with your CRM software to track leads and customers easily.
Or you might want to connect your tool with your content management system to share blog posts and other content on social media easily.
Hootsuite has over 140 integrations and extensions, including popular tools like Asana, Dropbox for Hootsuite, Flickr, etc.
These are some popular integrations for sharing content on the web:
RSS AutoPublisher – Autopost content from your favorite RSS feeds to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. You can automate up to 25 feeds. This app is included in the Hootsuite Enterprise plan.
Curate by Upcontent – Automatically find and curate content from around the web based on topics you specify. This app not only lets you track engagement and monitor channel growth for your integrated campaigns, but it also analyzes them.
Pocket – The Pocket app in Hootsuite lets you save content from around the web to read later. This is helpful if you want to curate content for social media but don’t have time to read it all right away.
To add an app, visit the Hootsuite App Directory and select the app you want to add.
Buffer has over 100 integrations, including popular tools like IFTTT, Zapier, Pocket, etc.
Additionally, Buffer recently launched an integration with Google Analytics to track your social media traffic and see how it impacts your bottom line.
Some popular integrations for sharing content on the web:
IFTTT – IFTTT is a popular service that lets you automate tasks between different online services. For example, you can use IFTTT to post your Instagram photos to Twitter automatically.
Buffer Browser Extensions – Buffer offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari that let you easily share content from around the web.
Overall, Hootsuite and Buffer offer various integrations with popular tools. Hootsuite has a slight edge regarding its number of integrations, but both tools offer similar functionality.
When looking for a social media management tool, pricing is important. If you are a small business or solopreneur, you might not need all the features offered by the enterprise plans.
Hootsuite offers four plans: Professional, Team, Business, and Enterprise.
The Professional plan starts at $49/month and includes up to 10 social profiles, one user, unlimited posts, and access to messages in one place.
The Team plan starts at $249/month and includes up to 20 social profiles, three users, and unlimited posts and post scheduling.
The Business plan is $739/month with 35 social accounts and five users.
The Enterprise plan is custom-priced and includes all the features of the other plans, plus additional features like Single Sign-On (SSO), data export, and custom reporting.
Buffer has four plans: Free, Essentials, Team, and Agency.
The Free plan is limited to 1 user for up to three channels.
The Essential plan starts at $6/month per channel for unlimited channels and includes one user.
The Team plan starts at $12/month per channel for unlimited channels and includes unlimited users.
Finally, the Agency plan starts at $120/month for ten channels.
All paid plans in Buffer come with a 14-days trial.
Overall, Hootsuite is the better option for large organizations that need enterprise-level features. For small businesses and solopreneurs, Buffer is the better option because it’s more affordable.
Hootsuite is compliant with SOC2, SOC3, ISO 27001, and PCI-DSS. They also offer enterprise plans with two-factor authentication and single sign-on (SSO).
Single sign-on (SSO) lets employees use one set of credentials (usually their corporate login) to access multiple applications.
Buffer is compliant with GDPR. They also offer two-factor authentication. They will send a text message to your phone with a code you need to enter to log in, or you can use Google Authenticator.
Buffer also lets you see the devices that are logged into your account and the IP addresses they’re coming from. This is a great way to quickly spot any suspicious activity.
Overall, both Hootsuite and Buffer offer good security features. They ensure that your data is safe and secure and offer two-factor authentication to protect your account.
9. Customer Support
When using a social media management tool, it’s important to know that you can get help if needed. Both Hootsuite and Buffer offer customer support via email and live chat.
Hootsuite offers a help center with tutorials and articles on using the tool. They also offer 24/7 support on Twitter or Facebook.
Business and Enterprise plan customers can also sign up for Live Product Training. This will help you get the most out of your Hootsuite account and ensure you use all the features correctly.
Buffer offers a help center that covers a wide range of topics, from getting started with Buffer to best practices for using the tool.
If you want assistance with billing issues or anything else, you can submit a request on their website, and a customer support representative will get back to you.
Buffer also runs Q&A sessions every week, where they help you get started on Buffer.
Overall, both Hootsuite and Buffer offer good customer support. However, Hootsuite’s Live Product Training sets them apart and makes them the winner in this category.
Pablo by Buffer – This tool lets you create beautiful images for social media in minutes. It has a library of 50,000+ free stock photos, and you can easily add text, logos, and graphics to your images.
IFTT – This tool is used with Buffer to automate your social media posts. You can connect Buffer and create “recipes” that automate your posts. Some of the ways you can use IFTT and Buffer are:
- Scheduling RSS Feeds on Buffer
- Engaging your Twitter followers
- Adding events to your Google Calendar to remind your audience
Hootsuite AutoSchedule feature – This tool analyzes your social media activity and posts your updates at the best times for engagement. This helps maximize your reach and ensure your audience sees your content.
Hootsuite Academy – This is a learning platform that offers social media certifications. The courses are self-paced, and you can choose from various topics, such as social marketing and social media strategy.
So, What Should You Go For?
From our comparison guide above, it’s clear that each tool has its advantages and disadvantages. The best way to decide which tool is best for you is to answer these questions:
- How large is your team?
- Are you experienced in social media management?
- Which features do you need in a social media management tool?
- Will you be running paid social media campaigns?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to decide which tool is best for you.
Are There Alternatives to Hootsuite and Buffer?
Yes, there are other social media management tools available. These include:
- Sprout Social
- Zoho Social
Can I Use Both Tools Simultaneously?
Yes, you can use both tools simultaneously. However, it’s important to note that they have different features, so you’ll want to use the best tool suited to your needs.
For example, if you need to schedule and publish content, Buffer would be a better choice. If you need to track your social media analytics, Hootsuite would be a better choice.
Is There a Free Version Available?
Yes, both Hootsuite and Buffer offer free versions of their tool. However, the free versions have limited features. For example, with Buffer, you can only connect up to three channels and one user.
Hootsuite free version is technically non-existent. However, they offer a free trial that allows you to use all features.
Buffer offers a 14-day free trial, and Hootsuite offers a 30-day free trial.
We recommend signing up for the paid version to get the most out of either tool.