Smart Tech for a better Web
Tldr; I am another fan of Bufferapp. And these are my experiences.
When I started my geek shirt label “Cvltwear”, I was pretty sure it would be cool, and we’d sell tons of shirts in an instant. It all proved out to be harder than expected. We have our loyal followership, but it’s a few people. To keep our shop up, I needed a change. And what I (currently) suck about is what I thought I would manage easily: spreading the word.
But not enough. Besides Cvltwear, I got plenty of websites and thought each one of them needs a social media presence. I could not populate my social media as I hoped, and I ended up with tons of dead accounts. I was recommended to read some more on marketing and choose a tool that would help me.
Two marketing tools catched my attention: HootSuite and then BufferApp. I found BufferApp to have a much more nice interface but finally went with HootSuite as a colleague told me this was the better experience, and it would support “RSS auto publishing”. The RSS feature would mean, always when I write content on my blog, it would publish it to the right channels. I needed it, and since BufferApp didn’t offer it…
To put it bluntly, HootSuite is a crazy mess of an interface. It was horrible to maintain, looked like Windows (an operating system from the 90ties) and had some annoying bugs. The RSS auto publishing was disabled all here and then, without any notification. My whole experience boiled down was a single word: limited. Some of the limitations were lifted by paying extra. But seriously, I was annoyed. And I still had no control of what happened on social media nor did I manage to get some life into my social presence.
To get control back, I was installing TweetDeck. It’s not the best tool, but it worked out. At least I was able to see what was happening.
Then I heard BufferApp would support RSS feeds, and I didn’t think further but went into their “Awesome Plan”. However, I got it wrong and found out they didn’t mean “auto publish” as I understood it. They meant I could easily add new items from feeds by clicking a button. I was a bit shocked but decided to make the best out of it.
I looked at the BufferApp API and liked it pretty much. They provide a well-designed, easy to understand REST interface. I was able to implement a “Buffer-Feeder” in no time. It would take the new RSS items and push it to BufferApp. Problem solved.
When I got this running, I was looking at the other features. I was pleased to see that even the basic analytics, which come with the “Awesome Plan” are helpful. I could see how much impact my content could have. On the other hand, I felt a bit disappointed real insights are reserved for agencies. I think even small businesses like me should have access to them, without paying agency rates.
After a while, I also understood the scheduling times. You can buffer without telling exactly when the message should go out. If this is the case, the message will be sent on a “time schedule” which you can define separately for each account. Scheduling is helpful, but for some reason I didn’t understand that feature well at first sight.
On another use case, I connected IFTTT to Buffer. This kind of works, but sometimes IFTTT recipes simply break for unknown reasons. If you would like to build up a system that relies on these two, make sure you test properly. Also, you need to know that IFTTT currently cannot “send now” but always sends after your time schedule. With a time schedule, it is impossible to auto publish highly frequented RSS feeds.
BufferApp also suggests you new content for your stream. Some of them is useful, and so it is easy to have fresh content at hands. For many of my social media presences, I have three accounts: G+, Facebook, Twitter. It is possible to post easily to them at once. But you get separate suggestions for each of the accounts. If you hit “add”, then the suggestion is only added “as is” with a single account. You can’t edit the post, which is already annoying. If you would like to edit or post the item to all of your accounts in a single “group”, then you need to open the link and buffer from there. That’s additional extra miles you need to go. There is surely an area for improvement.
There is a “Daily Buffer” mobile app, which shows you suggestions in a different way. I don’t get why I need a separate app for that, but it feels pretty much disconnected from the original app. My hope is this little app would allow “grouping” one day.
With auto publish features, improved suggestions and detailed analytics available for small accounts it would be the perfect tool.
The pricing step from “Awesome Plan” ($10 for 12 Accounts) to “Business Plan” ($50 for 25 Accounts) is pretty tough for me. I would have hoped for 25$, as 12 * 2 is $24. Well, maybe I get a second Awesome account, but I can’t switch logins easily. It’s even more difficult on mobile.
After all, I stay. The benefits overweight the little drawbacks. And they catched me with their incredible support team. I had problems with VAT - they helped immediately. I found something weird - super-fast response. I made a mistake and thought it was a bug - I didn’t feel stupid when they responded and explained. Please be aware, that I am totally annoyed from the customer support Grammarly or even Rdio provides (invoices are a major feature without any priority for them). I don’t take good customer support as granted, no matter how fancy the apps look like.
Last but not least, I would like to recommend the Bufferapp Blog if you are interested in online marketing. This blog inspired me to read more and dig deeper. Now, if I would sell a couple more of my t-shirts, then I could even say something cool about “Return of Invest”. But now I just say: cool team, cool product.