Staying Social, Remotely: 11 Features We Love About Buffer, Our Social Media Scheduling Tool
These days, it’s more important than ever to keep your social media profiles active and engaging audiences—especially since people are spending more time than ever scrolling through the social feeds each day.
But for businesses juggling the stress of remote working, scattered teams, and changing audience expectations, keeping on top of social media profiles may actually be more difficult than ever before.
That’s where having the right tool can really make a huge difference.
Look, there are plenty of social media scheduling and analysis tools out there—and, more than likely, just as many blogs defending why each one is the best of the best.
Believe me, our team has tried them all - from Hootsuite to SproutSocial, and even just manually posting on each platform. But when it comes to keeping all of our channels organized for all of our clients, nothing has been able to match our platform of choice: Buffer.
Buffer knows the challenges of remote working (after all, every member of their staff works remotely); they’re committed to transparency, and they’re willing to take new ideas from users on how to improve. As a result, they’ve built one pretty powerful social media scheduling tool, and it’s been pretty darn beneficial to our ability to deliver high-quality, responsive social media management for our clients.
But don’t just take my word for it: here are 11 of the most useful features found on Buffer’s social media “Publish” tool—all reasons that Buffer is key to keeping our processes running smooth (even during unexpected challenges), and why we’re always pretty excited to bring our clients into the fold in using Buffer for their social media scheduling.
Scheduling for All Clients on Major Platforms
OK, so being able to connect your “social media scheduling tool” to your social media channels is essentially the most basic requirement of any social media scheduling platform. If it can’t do that, what even is it really?
But while Buffer (obviously) has this capability, they take it to another level by giving superior flexibility even within the major social media platforms.
By using Buffer, social media managers can connect all the major social media channels in one place—and even multiple profile types within certain platforms—to keep everything consolidated and just a few clicks away.
Users on Buffer can connect:
- Facebook Pages
- Facebook Groups
- Instagram Business Accounts (this is key - more on this later)
- Instagram Personal Accounts
- Twitter accounts
- LinkedIn Pages
- LinkedIn Profiles
- Pinterest accounts
For now, this covers essentially all of our clients’ social media needs. (No word on Tik Tok quite yet, but we have a feeling it might be coming in the future.)
Key here is the ability to connect multiple profile/page types, including Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Pages. We’ve run into a surprising amount of headaches in the past with these types of social platforms, so the fact that Buffer allows for these unique types makes adjusting our social plans for each one that much easier.
Teams Give Everyone A Chance To Contribute (And Review)
Here at Altos, our social media management capabilities are pretty extensive—and that means we need a tool that can handle dozens of social accounts for dozens of clients, and one that we can invite our clients to work with directly.
That’s where Buffer’s “Teams” capability has become a daily life saver for our social team.
By inviting team members to our Buffer account, we’re able to set admin access levels for each team member and each social account on a one-by-one basis. That allows us to keep a tight grip on exactly who has access to which social profiles, and makes it easy for clients to participate directly in their social scheduling. Talk about oversight, huh?
We like to invite clients with either “full posting access” (so they can post directly or approve posts to their social profiles on all platforms), or “approval required” (so they can draft posts when a great idea strikes, and we can schedule or adjust as needed from there).
Because we’re social media ballers, we’re signed up for Buffer’s “Large Business” level, allowing us to manage up to 150 social accounts and invite up to 26 users into our account, and we can schedule up to 2,000 posts for each platform at once. Plenty of flexibility to keep on top of everything, and keep everyone in the loop.
Simple to Customize Each Post for Each Platform
There’s some debate in the industry over the practice of posting the same content to all social media channels—for some, it’s an unforgivable act of repetition that’s blind to each platform’s unique audience; for others, it’s a time-saving and efficient way to keep all channels active without dedicating too much time to social media in general.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum (personally, I lean more toward consistency with subtle adjustments to optimize for each platform... ) Buffer makes it easy to achieve exactly what you need for every platform you’ve connected.
Buffer allows you to create “Groups” of your social media accounts, allowing you to select an entire collection of profiles—for example, all of our Altos social profiles—and draft one “template” post for all platforms at once. Then, before publishing or scheduling, you can adjust the language, links, image, and hashtag for each individual platform.
This flexibility offers the best of both worlds for our team: easy, consolidated posting for all channels, but with plenty of space for customization for each social channel. That way, we can stay consistent while optimizing content for each platform and each audience.
Draft, Approve, and Publish From Any Connected Device (with Reminders)
There’s something really nice about being able to work from the same desk (and same desktop) every day. But as recent events have shown all-too-clearly, even that’s a luxury we may not always be able to count on.
That’s why Buffer’s flexibility when it comes to scheduling across multiple devices has been crucial to keeping everything moving, even when we’re working remotely or on-the-go.
Buffer’s mobile app makes it easy to seamlessly connect to our social scheduling platform just about anywhere from any device, and the single sign-in to the entire Buffer dashboard allows for easy on-the-go approval and posting for all team members, on all teams, for all social accounts.
Plus, the Buffer mobile app is able to connect your unique mobile device to your unique Buffer sign-in, allowing all reminder notifications to hit your phone right when it’s time to post. That way, we’re alerted via push notification when a post is set to publish, and we can quickly jump in and either publish manually or make edits before the post hits the channels.
Social media management requires flexibility, and Buffer’s cross-device functionality takes away the headaches. It makes keeping on top of posting easy—even when we’re out of the office.
Queue-View and Calendar-View Lays Everything Out Easily
Sometimes, there's nothing more helpful than being able to step back and take a thousand-yard view of your social media schedule. But while Google Docs and spreadsheets may be helpful for drafting posts, it can be tough to get the same view on posts you’ve already added to the schedule.
That’s where Buffer’s dual scheduling views make a big difference.
If you’re interested in seeing each post listed in order for a day-by-day view, Buffer’s Queue is the right view for you. This lists all of your posts in the order in which they’re scheduled, letting you see how everything fits as one steady stream. Since Buffer allows you to pre-select scheduled posting times for each day of the week, you can also quickly see how many of those empty slots have been filled from one easy viewpoint.
But if you’re interested in seeing how your entire schedule fits together on a weekly or monthly basis, you may want to check out Buffer’s Calendar view.
This shows all your posts for the week or month laid out in a standard calendar format, focusing less on individual posts and more on the overall schedule of all your drafts. That way, you can immediately see which days are a little light on the content, and which days could stand to have a few posts shifted elsewhere.
Analysis At Our Fingertips
What good is a social media scheduling platform if it doesn’t give you an idea of how things are going?
Buffer does—and it even takes things a step further with their full Analyze platform, letting you dive deep into metrics like post engagement, follower growth, impressions, engagement rate, and more.
But here’s a #protip: Buffer’s foundational “Publish” also has its own stripped-down “Analysis” feature that gives a quick overview of performance on major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Although not as robust as each of these platform’s native reporting tools, it does give a quick and easy overview of your posts through Buffer—and if your clients are invited as team members, they can take a look too.
This “Analytics” feature in Buffer Publish makes it easy to filter your posts by custom date range for review, and even lets you compare performance during your chosen time period against prior time periods. You can even filter your published posts by keyword to compare the finer details of delivery and performance for your most important topics.
Instant Publishing for Instagram Business Accounts
Although Facebook has long been compatible with automatic posting on most social media scheduling apps, Instagram has been surprisingly tricky with this same function. Even using some of the best social scheduling tools, a lot of marketers still have to manually sign into Instagram, copy the post details, and post from there. That can be a little burdensome, especially when you’re posting at scale.
Fortunately, Buffer now allows for automatic posting directly to connected Instagram Business accounts. That way, we can draft posts right in Buffer—including hashtags, location tags, mentions, post text, and an image—and Buffer will automatically post to the right profile at the scheduled time.
There are still a few things to consider, though: you can only pre-schedule single images (sorry, slideshows - still have to post those manually), and you may still need to set up posting reminders rather than auto-posting for personal accounts. But this is a handy feature and it’s a heck of a lot easier than signing in and out of each individual Instagram profile every time something hits publication time.
Save Your Favorite Hashtags For Rapid Deployment
It may be surprising to some, but hashtags still carry a lot of weight when it comes to visibility on social media. If you want to get your post in front of the right audiences, you should probably be using the right hashtags.
But if you’re like us, you might be feeling sick of typing out that long list of hashtags for each and every Instagram post or Tweet. Fortunately, Buffer has a pretty sweet solution.
Buffer allows social media marketers to create hashtag groups for your most-used tags and lets you save those hashtag groups for each account you have connected. Simply type out that long list of hashtags (one time, we swear), then save it with an easy-to-remember name so you can quickly grab it again later.
When you’re ready to deploy, simply pull up your list of hashtags groups and find the one that fits your particular target platform or subject matter. You can even search your hashtag groups, making it that much easier to build as many as you need and deploy like an expert.
Easy to Claim That Crucial First Comment
Personally, I’ve never been super fond of the “hashtags in your post copy” style of tagging on Instagram. (I’ve even experimented with the “use periods as spaces” trick, and it’s still not my fave.)
That’s why we were so psyched to see Buffer add “first comment” functionality for Instagram business accounts. Now, you can schedule both your post itself (image and copy) along with that first comment, all directly from the Buffer post editor.
Use this feature to add your favorite hashtags in the first comment on each Instagram post, and Buffer will automatically push that comment along with your post. No need to manually log in and leave a comment within the Instagram app, and no need to miss out on hashtags—simple as that.
Check Out The Shop Grid To Help Customers Fill Those Carts
If you’ve taken the plunge into promoting products on Instagram, you may have already experimented with the platform’s Shopping Bag feature. It’s an easy way to pull your Facebook Product Catalog right into Instagram, letting you sell items directly to your audience right on the platform. Pretty cool!
But if you don’t have a Facebook Catalog set up (or don’t want to), Buffer’s Shop Grid feature gives you another option.
You can use this pseudo-landing page link as your “link in bio,” and direct customers to that link for all of your product posts. No more changing out your bio link for every new post; the Shop Grid keeps everything contained and just a click away, all from within Buffer’s scheduling platform.
Instant Link Shortening is Key To Saving Space
Although Buffer does make it easy to schedule posts for all your social media channels all at once, that doesn’t change the fact that things don’t always work the same on every platform—Twitter being one of the biggest outliers. Because of its character limit, keeping things short and sweet for Twitter can be a bit of a hassle… especially with those long URLs.
Fortunately, Buffer makes things a bit easier with its integrated Link Shortener feature, letting you connect your preferred link shortener—or, let Buffer do the work with integrated bit.ly, j.mp, or the native buff.ly shorteners—to keep your links tidy and easy to read for all of your posts, on every channel.
Best of all, you can customize when your links are shortened, either on a platform by platform basis (say, turn it off for all but your Twitter profiles), or directly in the post editor itself. Sometimes you want to save space, but sometimes you want users to know exactly where they’re clicking… and Buffer gives you the flexibility to have it either way.
Don’t Stress Over Social Scheduling. Let Us Introduce You To Buffer.
Listen, we do a whole lot of social media management—which means if there’s anybody looking for the best, most useful, and most intuitive tool out there, it’s Altos. That’s why we’ve done our homework and found a clear winner in Buffer, and why our clients have found significant benefits to working in one, consolidated scheduling platform alongside our social media team.
If you’re on the fence about the best way to schedule your social posts, or if you’re interested in learning more about Buffer as a resource for your business, we’d love to be your tour guide. Give us a ring (or an email, or—heck—shoot us a message on social) and we’d love to show you just how much this handy tool can do for your social presence.