Academic Productivity app review: Buffer

This is a series of review posts focusing on apps and tools which may help people navigate the digital landscape and the masses of information out there. I focus on tools which might help academics and those that work with research, especially those that will save people time. This post lists more tools and tricks. 

Buffer sells itself as 'Social Media Management' application and that is pretty self explanatory about what it does. You can schedule posts, post from multiple accounts simultaneously and generate statistics such as the number of clicks on a link and audience size, allowing you to refine you content, post at the best times and generally be better and more active on social media with minimal effort.

I am finding Buffer incredibly useful and enjoyable to use. It was really simple to integrate it into my posting and social media use and has allowed me to better manage my posting schedule and saved me lots of time.

I've been using Buffer for just over a month now thanks to a recommendation by a colleague, Amy Hayward. I do not say this lightly, in order for a new tool or app to embed itself into my life it needs to hit a few key criteria (as experienced when I reviewed Habit RPG which aims to change your bad habits).

A good app or tool needs to:
- not have a laborious sign-up and set-up procedure (I do not want to write another profile biography)
- make my life easier
- actually give me something useful

Buffer manages to do all of them. It also complements me about how successful my posts are so that is a winning feature (It says lovely things like, 'all of your posts are doing well today').

For day-to-day social media use I use the twitter app or and I know this is old school and people like to use fancy new tools but I am a creature of habit and I prefer the simple interfaces to what other management tools offer.

Buffer's main alternatives are Hootsuite and Tweetdeck and although they are incredibly useful when managing social media campaigns, multiple twitter/facebook accounts and when needing to watch several feeds simultaneously (when live-tweeting an event for example) I find them more cumbersome and complicated than and the free options do not offer me anything extra that I need to make them worthwhile. If I am just logging on to look up what is going on at a moment in time then my go-to is the basic platform.

Buffer works for me as it integrates through my browser (Chrome) with the basic platforms so I can use it's functions without changing my normal habits on social media.

Buffer that tweet (schedule it for later..)! 
You can sign in to a number of platforms and accounts including Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin (Google+ and too) so you can post simultaneously (if you want to). The free version of Buffer does limit the number of accounts you can connect with but you can upgrade to 'awesome' if you have a lot. You can schedule posts or post immediately. Buffer automatically makes a suggestion of when to post. This is important because if you have a number of things you want to tweet but aren't too fussed about when they go out the app will automatically space them for you, rather than you inputting the times manually or logging back in later in the day to tweet.

It automatically shortens links and allows you to post content from one social media platform easily to another (e.g. twitter to Facebook). This is all without accessing social media from an alternative page.

You can even buffer retweets! 

The Buffer blog is a fantastic resource too. It offers support and advice on how to get the most out of different social media sites,  keeps you updated what changes in social media mean and hosts general discussion about topics relating to social media keeping you up to date with the latest social media information.

The only downsides of Buffer are that you can't access your social media feeds through the app or website. You can schedule posts and view your stats but not much else. I haven't really been using Buffer as an app on my phone either as it is a little clunky (see image attached where my stats are going off screen). This is compared with accessing Buffer through a web browser (below)
Displaying image.png

I haven't been paid by Buffer or any other social media tool to write this post. I'm just sharing because I think others might find this review useful.

Most useful for: Creatures of habit, social media newbies and occasional users who want to generate some statistics and schedule some posts.

Least useful for: Social media campaign managers with multiple accounts (5+) to juggle (unless you upgrade to the Awesome version).


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