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You thought social media was time-consuming back when you were only using it to watch cat videos and look at brunch pictures on Instagram?
Now that you’re using it professionally–whether to promote your business, build your personal brand, network, or all of the above–the endless cycle of creating, sharing, and distributing content could potentially take up all your time.
Enter Buffer. It's a scheduling tool to keep your social media profiles up-to-date without you posting all the time. Connect your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts, set a publishing schedule for when you want to share new posts, then add a queue of things to post. Buffer will do the rest, sharing your posts and keeping track of how they do automatically.
After signing up and adding your social profiles, you can post to any account, anytime—or all of them together. Just click one of your accounts (for example, LinkedIn), and start typing a post for that network. You can cross-post to any or all of your other accounts—just tap multiple account icons—which makes coming up with enough to post across the web even easier.
Like many social media scheduling tools, Buffer lets you select a video or image from each post to share with it, or you can upload a new one. Need to create a graphic? Buffer's Pablo tool gives you a unique way to create customized images for your content within seconds. You can choose images from its library or upload your own, add text or quotes, overlay your logo, and resize the file based on the platform you’ll be publishing it on. It’s an awesome way to make your posts stand out in your followers’ news feeds.
Once you’ve put the finishing touches on a post, you’ve got a couple choices:
- Share it immediately.
- Schedule it for a specific time.
- Share it next.
If you opt for choice #3, the post will go into your queue. Buffer uses this feed as a source for your set posting times; for example, you could have Buffer post four times a day, at 9:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 5 PM, and 8 PM.
Since each social platform gets its own schedule, you don’t have to worry about spamming your followers or posting too frequently on any one platform.
After you’ve used Buffer for a couple weeks, you can really dive into the Analytics section. Quickly find your most and least popular posts within any given time period, see your average number of interactions, get an overview of your progress over time, and more. Plus, thanks to the “rebuffer” button, which appears next to each post and lets you instantly re-publish it, recycling your best content is effortless.
You can also create content outside of the main app. With Buffer's Chrome and Safari extensions, not only can you turn any webpage into a post, but if you hover your mouse over a picture, a “Share this image” icon will appear. One tap, and Buffer creates a post using that image, the page URL, and the page headline. Now, whenever you stumble across a great article, you can share it with your followers without any legwork.
The mobile app is equally useful. Its dashboard looks pretty similar to the desktop version: clean, minimal, comprehensible. All of the same functions (creating and scheduling content and analyzing performance) are available within the app. And when you’re reading something share-worthy on your phone, you can instantly Buffer it just as if you were on your computer.
For anyone using social networks professionally, Buffer is a handy tool. It'll save you time and energy in maintaining your social networks, while letting you reach more people with each post.
Originally published January 22, 2016; updated April 30, 2018 with new pricing, features, and screenshots.