Do you need one or two social media dashboards?
Do you need a social media dashboard? (A social media dashboard is your go-to place for managing one or more of your social profiles.) By connecting a dashboard to your social sites, you’ll broadcast your re-tweets, messages, updates, and more, out to cyberspace from one platform and even from multiple devices. The most popular dashboards are Hootsuite and Buffer which sync with Blogger, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, Linkedin, MailChimp, Pinterest, RiteTag, RSS feeds, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Twitter, WordPress, YouTube, et cetera. (See NOTES about WordPress.)
This post is about the free versions of Hootsuite and Buffer. Paid versions have more features and also work for teams. You may find like I do, that having both dashboards allows me to have more social media profiles (which you wouldn’t have with just one dashboard). If you choose one, you may prefer the engagement option in Hootsuite or you may want the simple content-posting of Buffer.
Both offer analytics to show how well you’re engaging, as well as extensions for browsers, enabling you to quickly share on social media right from the post you’re reading.
Do you need (or have) multiple social media accounts?
I’ve written previously that you might want to consider having several social media accounts. This is not because you want to be camping out in all these places, it’s mainly because the people you desire to connect with have their different preferences. Donna Donor is on Facebook. Larry Leverage is on LinkedIn. Professor Plum. In the Dining Room. With… Oh, excuse me. Professor Plum is on Twitter. In order to connect with them all, where they are, you’ll want to have a presence on each of these sites. You don’t need to be equally active on each one. A dashboard will help you easily manage content and connections.
If you have just one social media account, a dashboard will still help you schedule your posts, even determining the best times for your posts to go out. If you’re using social media to advance a ministry on campus or for your blog, the dashboards are taking care of your content 24 / 7 so you don’t need to be. Set aside several minutes to read and schedule content and then you’re done for the day, or even for the week.
Start with Buffer
Why start with Buffer?
Buffer is easy and straightforward. It’s actually a content manager and not a social media manager with all the bells and whistles of Hootsuite.
Buffer offers five free media sites (one account each) for you, but this is probably enough for most of us.
Buffer also offers Pablo, with 600,000 free images to create images for your social media accounts.
Easily read and then immediately schedule a share, using a dashboard extension on your browser. I use their Chrome extension to add an article to one or more queues when I’m browsing the web.
Buffer’s free version limits my five social media accounts to one profile per account plus 10 posts at a time per account that I can schedule. I chose my Twitter profile, my LinkedIn profile, eQuipping for eMinistry’s (e4e) Instagram account and also e4e’s pages on Facebook and on Google+. That’s fine for the level I want for sharing (and at the level that you want me to be sharing!)
Sign up here for Buffer and then watch this “Getting Started on Buffer” video. Be prepared to use the pause button to take it all in at a slower pace.
Bonus: how to schedule repeating posts.
Hootsuite Offers More
I’m realizing as I write this that I’m not using Hootsuite to its full potential. It’s amazing to me how much you get for free from them. I even have two Twitter accounts and two MailChimp accounts. We’re not limited to one account per social media site. (I believe, however, that I have more media on my Hootsuite account because I set it up before their current limits.)
Arrange the tabs any way you want. Put your most-visited sites on the main tab.
Hootsuite allows you to engage with followers and friends right from within it. Buffer does not.
I haven’t even scratched the surface of what you’ll be able to do. (It’s time for me to start learning more of what’s available.) If you want to have all the features of Hootsuite at your disposal, too, sign up here.
Bonus: Grab your Hootlet extension to start discovering and sharing content while surfing the Internet. Learn all the amazing things you can do with Hootlet in this video.
Your Scheduled Posts and History of Posts
Buffer and Hootsuite show what’s waiting to post, however, if you scheduled anything in Buffer, these won’t show up in scheduled posts in Hootsuite and vice versa. An advantage for Hootsuite is seeing your history of posts whether they were scheduled in Buffer or Hootsuite; Buffer shows a history of posts (sent through Buffer only) in the Analytics section.
Just having the ability to schedule a post may be a big incentive for you to try one of these. (Or you can override the scheduling and post on your own time frame.)
I love posting to Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more in a minimal amount of time. I actually still prefer to go directly to my personal Facebook account for posting there.
Are you using a dashboard? Have you found a creative way to use a dashboard for ministry? Write a comment to share with Cru staff or send a guest post to me at e4e at cru dot org.
- I’ve barely touched the surface in this post. Read more about Hootsuite and Buffer on eQuipping for eMinistry.
- Generally, I recommend sticking with these two platforms since we know they have longevity. If these free platforms lack the features you need, do a Google search to find a different social media dashboard. Be aware that newer apps may not be around for long.
- I already share my posts as they’re published through WordPress to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn, so I share older posts from my blogs through Hootsuite.
- Read a thorough comparison of Buffer and Hootsuite from LinkHumans.com.
- You might also consider using apps to expand your functions for these dashboards. Here are some examples:
- IFTTT for Buffer
- Zapier for Buffer
- Check out 132 free apps to sync with Hootsuite
- Mike and I took this photo of a Bentley dashboard a few years ago at a classic car show.