Free Content Marketing Tool Highlight: Buffer

Social Strategy, Content Marketing

Social media is a critical marketing tool for modern companies. Recent social media trends for businesses show that consumers use these platforms to get customer service, connect with brands, and drive conversation about their favorite products or services. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of time, effort, and constant attention to execute a successful social media strategy. Tools like Buffer make it a lot easier to maintain a consistent online presence.

About Buffer

screenshot of the products offered by Buffer: Publish, Reply, and Analyze
Buffer offers three different products for social media managers. This post will focus on Buffer Publish, which has a free option.

Buffer is a social media publishing tool used by over 75,000 people around the world. This product has earned the trust of social media managers, small business owners, and even massive brands like Microsoft, Business Insider, and the Denver Broncos. Buffer offers a few different products, all of which are related to social media:

  • Buffer Publish – This is the focus of this article, since it’s the only Buffer product offering a free version. Use it to schedule social media posts in advance, and they’ll go out at the specified time.
  • Buffer Reply – A shared inbox makes it easier to provide an excellent online experience by responding to messages and resolving customer service issues. Reply to messages across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, all from the same place.
  • Buffer Analyze – Use the analytics dashboard to get insights about the performance of your Facebook and Instagram accounts. Buffer even makes recommendations to help you improve reach, engagement, and sales. All the tools on this dashboard can be used to create visually appealing, actionable reports with ease.

Buffer Features for Social Media Marketing

screenshot of Buffer Publisher's post composer window
Buffer makes it easy to prepare your posts. Just add an image, caption, and location, then decide to share now or queue up for later.

This post won’t dive into the features available through Buffer Analyze or Buffer Reply, since those tools aren’t free. Experienced social media marketers may want to explore those products, but small business owners might want to stick with Buffer Publish to start. The publishing tool allows you to connect social media accounts from five of the most popular platforms:

  • Instagram – personal accounts and business profiles
  • Facebook – pages and groups
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn – profiles and pages
  • Pinterest* – board management only available on Buffer Pro and Business plans

Connect Buffer Publish with your social media accounts, then you can start posting directly through Buffer. Logging into Buffer gives you access to all of your linked accounts, at which point you can publish posts immediately or schedule them for a later time. Buffer’s post scheduling function allows social media managers to plan their updates in bulk. After you crank out lots of great images with Canva or another design tool, schedule them in advance to knock out a week or more of updates in one sitting.

screenshot of Buddy Gardner Advertising Instagram post in Buffer analytics
Buffer Publish allows you to see your queue of upcoming posts, plus posts that have gone out recently. Here's a screenshot of something published to the Buddy Gardner Instagram account.

Buffer has refined their publishing tool to make it more tailored to the different social networks you can connect. For example, some Instagram managers like to put all of their hashtags in the first comment instead of in the caption itself. Buffer allows you to schedule one comment in addition to the post itself, so they’ll both go out automatically at the scheduled time. Unfortunately, this particular feature only becomes available with the Buffer Pro plan.

Even beyond this first comment publishing feature for Instagram, higher Buffer plans provide more capabilities. The next section contains additional information about some of the Buffer Publish features you can unlock by upgrading to a paid account. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at Buffer’s pricing model.

Pricing: Freemium

screenshot of pricing levels for Buffer with monthly billing
If you want to connect more accounts or access more features, you can upgrade to one of Buffer's paid plans.

You can start using Buffer at absolutely no cost. They have a free option and three paid options:

  • Free – 3 linked social media accounts, 10 scheduled posts per account, 1 user
  • Pro – $15 per month – 8 linked social media accounts, 100 scheduled posts per account, 2 users
  • Premium – $65 per month – 8 linked social media accounts, 2,000 scheduled posts per account, 2 users
  • Business – $99 per month – 25 linked social media accounts, 2,000 scheduled posts per account, 6 users

Once you get to the Premium level, you unlock features like Instagram Hashtag Manager, Instagram Shop Grid, and Draft Posts. You can also use Buffer to set up an approval workflow for your clients. For small businesses that manage their social media in-house, though, the free version should be more than enough. If you want to see what you’re missing, just sign up for a free trial at any plan level that interests you. At the end of your trial period, you’ll have the option to add credit card information or go back down to Buffer’s free plan.

Social Media Marketing Services

screenshot of Buffer's date and time tool for scheduling social media posts
Buffer's free social media scheduling tool makes it easy to prepare posts in advance. Use the extra time you've freed up to drive more social media engagement and work on the rest of your content marketing strategy.

Buffer, even with a free plan, goes a long way toward removing the burden associated with social media marketing. That said, posting updates is only one small part of a successful content marketing strategy. For example, the best ways to get more Instagram followers require consistent interaction with other people on the platform. Scheduling updates in bulk will give you more time to focus on the rest of your social media strategy, but it isn’t a complete solution.

To learn more about content marketing for small businesses, join the mailing list below or reach out to start a dialogue.

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