Buffer – Scheduling Your Social Media Stream

I’ve been using Buffer for a few weeks now and while it’s not the be-all end-all solution, it’s great at what it does.  And, for me, what it does is provide consistent flow in both my Twitter and Facebook Fan Page streams.  Once you set up your account and connect it to your twitter account and Facebook personal page or Fanpage, you are ready to start posting.  You can post from the web interface itself.  It’s straight forward, clean and easy.

Buffer: Enter your post

Buffer: Enter your post

You can see in the screen shot to the left, I have both my Twitter account and Fanpage selected.  In the center box, you enter your text.  You can add a link, you can have Buffer suggest a post (which occasionally include a little self promotion… but at least you’ll get added buffer slots for anyone who clicks on your link), and when you are ready, you can post now or send the post to your buffer… so what is “your buffer”?

Your buffer is like a funnel.  With the free account you can add 10 items to your funnel (if you keep things in sync, that’d be 10 tweets and 10 Fanpage posts… basically once one account hits 10 items your buffer is “full”).  Now, how often those items go out is something you set up.

You can configure each media account separately and all the times that buffer will release information.  You can see in the next image the settings I have for my Twitter account.  I have it set to release a tweet 5 times a day, and I’ve set the specific times of those 5 tweets.  Those times are based on the time zone you have selected.  I am located in Denver, so I’ve set all my times to be relative to the local Denver time.  Another nice setting is the ability to use your Bit.ly account as your shortener.  This allows you to collect analytics for each URL that is shortened. Buffer provides some analytics on it’s own… but Bit.ly is a nice addition.

Buffer: Twitter Configuration

Buffer: Twitter Configuration

Now for me, adding posts from the website is the last thing I do. There’s way more convenient ways to add content to your buffer.  The major browsers all have plugins.  Each plugin allows you to surf the web as you usually do… and as you come across content you like, you can add it to your Buffer right then and there.  This is how I add most of my content.  You can also setup Buffer as a channel on If This Then That (note: the one limitation with IFTTT appear to be you have to select a single stream – so you can’t post to Twitter & your Fanpage at the same time.. read more to see my work around.)  I have another post about IFTTT that you can read if you wan to know more about that service.

You can also send updates to your buffer via email.  So, prior to the recent iPhone app release, I could still post to my buffer from my iPhone by using the email address provided by the service (it’s long & ugly, but by adding it as a contact and giving it an easy name to remember, like BufferApp MainStreet, makes it easy to use).  This is also my work around for IFTTT.  Since you can setup a task that can use your email account, I setup tasks that are triggered from RSS feeds, twitter feeds or Facebook updates and email then to my Buffer.  I can’t tell you how easy this makes “spur of the moment” posts.  I can be in a conversation on the street and if someone gives me some information that I can look up on my phone… I can be posting it minutes later.

As noted before, you can use the service for free.  For $10/mo you get the Pro account.  It increases your buffer size to 50 along with a few other benefits.  .  In the next few weeks I’m pretty sure I’ll be upgrading.  The next (huge) jump is the Premium account.  It’s $99/mo, but you get an unlimited buffer… so you certainly get a lot for what you’re paying for.

There seems to be a little flack regarding the “impersonal” nature of scheduling your posts.  I just don’t see that as an issue.  I’m still searching for content myself.  I’m still picking out what I’m sending out.  What buffer give me is a steady stream of posts at regular intervals.  It also allows me to test what times of day will work best for me.  By manipulating my settings and re-posting a few tweets, I can check my analytics to see what times of day work best for me and my followers.

It’s a great service with tremendous potential.  Sign up, start using it, and learn from your analytics!

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