This guest post is by Derek Land of ThisIsInspired.com.
On the recommendation of BufferApp from Misty Belardo I have incorporated BufferApp into my Twitter routine—my Routwine, if you will. It’s been very useful, but also brought some interesting thoughts to bear. (In this article I may use ‘Buffer’ and ‘BufferApp’ interchangeably but they are same service.)
Now in case you don’t use Buffer or haven’t heard about what it is, here’s a brief biography: Buffer allows you to load up tweets in a queue, and it tweets them out at pre-determined times of the day and week—what times and which days are up to you to decide. You save a tweet, tell Buffer when you want it published, and it tweets for you.
A service like BufferApp can be very useful in the strategies of bloggers and online marketers who are looking to leverage the social power of Twitter to share information.
The great thing about it is how easy it makes queuing up a list of tweets that can potentially reach more people with similar interests to you—which can, at the very least, increase your Twitter reach, drive traffic, and raise your social influence.
In this functionality, Buffer differs from many current and past Twitter services (I refrain from naming names) that don’t let you queue tweets, or at least, don’t do so easily, and it’s far and away better with the whole scheduling aspect.
This scheduling is key, because without it, you (a) flood your followers a few times a day when you happen to be online, and (b) miss out on visitors and potential customers (if you’re doing any kind of online selling) because they may be on Twitter at a different time of day from you.
Certain features of this scheduling ability are only available to paid subscribers of Buffer—which also sets it apart from most other tweet schedulers. However, by supporting Buffer as a paid subscriber, you’re also guaranteeing that the developers keep it running like a well-oiled machine. I appreciate the value of this, and am glad the Buffer people have, from the start, incorporated a monetization method to keep the service relevant and useful.
Since I’ve started using Buffer (and, granted, I am by no means whatsoever a Twitter power user), my follower count has gone up, as have the number of clicks on those links I’ve tweeted. Engagement has increased, but that growth has been slight. In Buffer’s defense, I should note that I’m pretty straight-laced in everything I do, so building excitement and feedback is an ongoing struggle for me. However, to say the main benefit of Buffer would be driving traffic would be a bit self-serving, and also shortsighted: you can add followers in a big hurry, but this may come at the expense of conversation and interaction.
Therefore if you use Buffer or any tweet scheduling service to tweet your tweets for you, it is important to balance your feed with engagement and pleasantries. I’ll probably say this once or twice more in this article.
Who uses Buffer?
Buffer can fit into just about anyone’s “Twitter Life.” The app is not made for certain people, and its creators don’t exclude anyone by using jargon or confusing settings. Everything is straightforward, and even Twitter novices can begin using it fluidly in a few minutes.
I can see folks using Buffer for one or more of a few reasons:
- to drive traffic and increase link sharing
- to expand social influence
- to inform/educate people otherwise unreachable (offline)
- to increase the consistency of your Twitter presence
- to solidify corporate presence or brand.
If you are the “I ate a pickle omnomnom” type of twitterer, Buffer will probably hold little value for you. However, if you’re in a business looking to better leverage social media, you’re a designer wishing to increase the visibility of your projects, or you’re a blogger wanting to increase interaction and visitors, BufferApp will be the perfect fit. I’d venture to say there’s no reason not to use it, and the longer you delay, the more benefits of the service you’ll forgo.
How to use Buffer successfully
I’ve gathered a few pointers to keep in mind that may help you to make the most of Buffer as you incorporate it into your online social life. These pointers have been honed a bit to apply to Buffer but they apply equally to any social scheduling service, and by extension, to any online interaction.
- Avoid letting traffic become the sole, soulless purpose of using Buffer; balance those tweets with meaningful interaction, DMs and @-replies. Be more engaging the more you tweet; don’t stagnate or sacrifice conversation for content.
- Avoid queuing up time-sensitive information, like giveaways or news flashes. BufferApp tweets in ascending order the tweets added to you queue, and if you queue up a lot, it may be many hours or a couple days for those tweets to get out.
- Avoid sending highly popular tweets to your Buffer queue. If Smashing Magazine has a WordPress theme giveaway (which, as you can guess, are always highly popular), queuing the tweet will likely cause it to fall on more deaf ears if you have a longer queue and/or fewer scheduled tweet times.
- Balance Buffer with real-time tweets. The power of Buffer comes from setting schedule times when you are not online or actively using Twitter, or to tweet more on the popular days (Monday-Wednesday). Do not let it become the only way you tweet.
- Adjust the frequency of your Buffer tweet schedule—make it more often if you tweet more, and less if your queue is shorter. This way, what you say is spread more evenly and consistently to your followers and readers.
Pros and cons … Wait, what?
In short, Buffer is a fantastic service. It does one thing, and it does it very well. Are there ways the Buffer People could tweak their app? There are a (very) few. And, Buffer People, if you are reading this, keep doing what you’re doing—these are thoughts others may not share and are, at best minor points far removed from my Scale of Irritation.
- An option to randomize the queue prior to each tweet: This may seem a bit inane. However, consider that both content and tone may fluctuate through the day or week. Also, you may find yourself queuing up a few tweets in a row on the same topic. An option to go random would resolve these minor issues.
- A faster pop-up for the bookmarklet (which sometimes does not work) and browser extension: However this may be the result of a slower server, server cache settings, and the like. My high speed connection is just fine, and the pop up still lagged a bit.
- Possible cooperation with app developers to incorporate send-to-Buffer in apps like Tweetbot, et al.: This would easily put the use of Buffer on a par Instapaper, and possibly replace the need for email-to-Buffer. Cross-app services like these have both stability and practicality in our increasingly busy social and work lives.
These problems, as you’ve already read, are exceedingly minor. And one additional point about the browser extension and bookmarklet: If you click it once and nothing happens, give it a few seconds before you click it again.
Is BufferApp for you?
I would very much like to see Buffer establish itself as a regular online service, much like Tweet Marker (but with wider support than Tweet Marker). As I write this, the team is preparing to roll out Buffer for Facebook.
For casual twitterers, there is no real con in using Buffer, and by that same token the pros are significantly diminished also. I’m not trying to be mean; if you use Twitter to simply catch up with friends or as a chat tool, then using Buffer will be counterproductive.
For businesses and bloggers, the key con of using Buffer rests on the one using it: not correctly balancing community interaction of a few personal tweets with the stuff you save in your Buffer queue. Don’t leave the social aspect of Twitter behind, or get so caught up in the mere act of tweeting that you forget why you started using Twitter in the first place. As with everything in life, balance is key.
Twitter is a place for sharing information; I’ve come to rely on Twitter for news more than CNN.com (my old standby), and for the latest trends, tips, and tricks in web development and design. To me, Twitter is a wonderful tool for learning, and for engaging with other writers, designers, and potential clients. And Buffer has put a “functionality polish” on the way I use it.
Twitter is a social place, even if for some there is a distinction between “casual social” and “business social.” Let’s make it more friendly by using it smartly, whatever app or service we use.
Derek Land has designed and developed websites for clients around the world and written on blogging and social ethics for several widely read online publications. You can follow him on Twitter at derekland or visit his website at www.ThisIsInspired.com.