A Quick Starter Guide to @Buffer

If you scroll down the home page of My Social Game Plan, you won’t be surprised when I tell you: Buffer is awesome!

A Quick Starter Guide to Buffer

For not being officially affiliated with Buffer (hey, I’m open to changing that *glances over at Joel and Leo*), you probably think I talk a little too much about them.

However, I think organizations with amazing products and unique business philosophies that challenge the status quo deserve all the attention in the world.

With that said, this post is a Buffer starter guide that focuses on the following topics:

  • A broad overview of what Buffer is and how it stacks up to the competition.
  • Why I think it’s one of the more helpful social media tools available.
  • How to connect your social media accounts.
  • How to set up your first Buffer schedule.

You’ll be well on your way to easier, more effective social media marketing with Buffer, so let’s dive in!

What is Buffer?

Put simply, Buffer is a social media application that allows you to easily schedule updates across multiple social networks.

You’re probably thinking, “So what? There are lots of tools to help with that.”

I can’t disagree. Between HootSuite, Sprout Social, SocialOomph, and many others, there’s definitely no shortage of social media management platforms out there.

All of these tools have their pros and cons — whether it relates to user interface, features or lack thereof, flexibility, mobile compatibility, etc. — and none of them are perfect.

Personally, I’m fond of Buffer for a few major reasons…

  • Firstly, the user interface is clean and runs smoothly. That alone puts it a notch far above most of the competition.
  • Secondly, the ability to easily set up predetermined schedules saves tons of time when scheduling social media updates (we’ll get into more detail with this shortly).
  • And lastly, their customer service kicks ass! I don’t have any data to back this up, but my gut feeling is Buffer’s customer support team is among the best of any company in any industry.

This post is meant to be a “take action” post, so I don’t want to get too caught up here in the details of what makes Buffer unique.

If you want to learn more about what Buffer brings to the table, their culture, their team, and so on, I highly suggest you check out the Open Buffer blog where they go behind the scenes and give “business transparency” a new meaning!

With all that said, let’s get on with the show so you can start using Buffer to immediately improve your social media presence!

Adding Social Networks

If you haven’t signed up for Buffer yet, you can grab a free account here. This free plan allows you to connect one of each social network — Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn — and allows you to “buffer” (schedule) up to ten updates per account.

After you’ve signed in, adding your social media accounts is a piece of cake. In the left navigation pane, you’ll see a button to connect your profiles.

Adding Accounts to Buffer

You’ll then be taken to a page that allows you to select which profiles you want to connect. Choose the network and grant Buffer access to your profile!

Adding Social Network to Buffer

That’s it! Now you’re ready to start scheduling updates!

The Perks of Buffer’s Scheduling Function

With Buffer, you no longer have to select the date and time each individual update should be published. Buffer allows you to set up a predetermined posting schedule and, as you add updates to the queue, Buffer automatically drops them into the time slots you selected.

This is a huge time saver for me and I’m certain it will be for you as well.

Note: Buffer still provides an option to schedule updates at a specific time of your choosing if you prefer that method or have a time-sensitive update.

Another handy feature with Buffer is the ability to very easily alter your posting schedule based on the day of the week. For example, if you want Buffer to send out updates only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you can select those three days and the Buffer queue will automatically adjust.

You can also set up different schedules for each social network, so you’re not posting the same message at the same time across every network.

This is all available on the free version!

Additionally, if you upgrade to the Buffer Awesome plan, you’ll have the ability to set up different updating schedules on different days!

This feature gives you tons of flexibility and allows you to schedule updates at just the right times to maximize Facebook reach and engagement on other social networks.

For example, let’s assume your Facebook fans tend to be online on Mondays between 9-10am and 2-3pm and on Tuesdays between 1-2pm and 10-11pm. You could set up a posting schedule for 9:30AM and 2:15PM on Mondays and another posting schedule for 1:20PM and 10:05PM on Tuesdays.

Your updates will be published in those time frames, giving you the best chance of reaching your fan base.

Creating a Buffer Schedule

Setting up a Buffer schedule is super easy! First, choose a social network on the left side of your dashboard, then select the Schedule tab near the top of the page.

If you’re sticking with the free version for now, you’ll have the option of only one schedule per network, but that’s plenty for now.

Choose your time zone, choose which days of the week you want the selected social network to be updated, then select the times you want updates to be published.

Setting Up First Buffer Schedule

In this image, I’ve chosen to update my Facebook page every day of the week at 9:03AM and 7:04PM, because that’s when most of my fans are online. Any time I add a new update to the Buffer queue, the update will automatically fall into the next open time slot.

Easy? Convenient? I think so!

Get Buffer-ing!

After following this guide and using Buffer for a few days, I think you’ll quickly find yourself loving the tool! It’s an outstanding, simple tool for managing a handful of personal accounts or business accounts (check out the free trial of Buffer for Business).

If you run into any trouble, I know from first-hand experience that the Buffer support team (dubbed Happiness Heroes, for good reason) will take amazing care of you! Any issues you contact them about will almost definitely be resolved in less than 24 hours.

Feel free to ask me any questions as well, like how I use Buffer and IFTTT to automate a few Twitter updates a day or how I use Buffer to better manage my social media presence. Always happy to help where I can!

Be on the lookout for more blog posts about other Buffer features that are sure to make your social media marketing efforts easier and more effective.

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About Jonathan Payne

Jonathan Payne (@SocialGamePlan) is the founder of My Social Game Plan, as well as an Interactive Marketing Specialist at Strategexe Consulting Group in Louisville, KY. Learn more about Jonathan and My Social Game Plan.