Buffer : Never be without a post lined up

It has to be said that I love, love, LOVE Buffer! I referred to it in an article here a few days ago, so I thought it might be an idea to introduce it to you properly, and then you can share the love too.

Put simply, Buffer lets you connect to you social network accounts, set an update schedule and then posts to those accounts on your behalf at the allotted times. Simple. And yes, it really is that simple.

There is a free version – which I find perfectly adequate – but if you are a social celebrity with thousands of followers and oodles of accounts then there is also a paid for upgraded version with extra functionality. In the free version you can link up to 3 social accounts: personally I use Buffer for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, but you can pick the networks you would prefer. You’ll need to log into each social account through the app (or the website) and give permission for Buffer to have access – don’t worry, Buffer is a big, reputable name and they won’t hack you, or post without your permission or steal you contacts lists.

Once your accounts are linked you are prompted to to set up a posting schedule. This is where Buffer can really help you out. You decide how often you want posts made on your behalf and Buffer will suggest the ‘best’ times for you to do that. You pick the times you would like your updates posted (or choose your own times) and the days of the week you would like to post – you may decide every day is not for you, but you’d like to post to Google+ every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3.23pm. Yes, you can be that exact. Buffer will make separate suggestions for each of your accounts, since different channels tend to have different levels of interactions and engagement. Save your schedules, and you’re good to go.

Now, whenever you are browsing the internet and you come across something you would like to share on one or more of your social networks you can easily add it to Buffer in a couple of clicks. If you are browsing on your smartphone or tablet then hit the ‘Share’ button, and so long as you have the Buffer app installed you will be offered this as one of the sharing options. So instead of sharing to Facebook, and then sharing again to Twitter, and then sharing again to LinkedIn or Google+ or wherever, you only need to do this once.

So what happens next? You will be given the option to add the item to all of your connected account queues, or you can select just one or two of them – which is great because it’s not often that something I might tweet about will be exactly professional enough to show me in a creditable light on LinkedIn!! Once done, that item is added to the queues for your selected networks. Now, you are probably going to have different schedules with different frequencies for different accounts: no problem! Buffer adds the item to a separate queue for each account, and when the next scheduled posting time rolls around for that account it will post the next item in your queue. Sometimes you will have more in one queue than another, sometimes one queue may be empty of a while, no problem, Buffer is not demanding, it will simply take an item and post it on your social feed if you have something saved that you want to share – and if not, well it will wait until you do.

If you use a desktop or laptop pc then you can add a little browser add-on that adds a Buffer icon to your menu bar – check this out at buffer.com for more info – it’s really easy and makes adding content into your Buffer queue super easy.

But… I hear you cry, …this is going to lead to a very stilted feed, and sometimes I just want to tweet about the weather and I’m not going to know before it happens that I’m going to get caught out without an umbrella! Relax… I use Buffer to create a background, bread-and-butter supply of interesting stuff to be posted in my social feeds. This means that I still post up-to-the-second updates on what I had for breakfast (well, actually I don’t, but you know what I mean) and other spontaneous things – Buffer just helps me to feed my followers with other content I have found around the web and think they may like – because it’s good to have a balanced timeline and regular posts. Or in may case, you would otherwise end up going completely socially silent from time to time because life has gotten a bit bloody hectic and you don’t have time to blow your nose, let alone tweet amusing fripperies… yep?!

If you want to read a little more about how to make the most of Buffer then my recent article about creating a social content machine is here – I hope you enjoy it and find it useful.