Buffer- social media management toolOnline engagement with your customers is absolutely necessary, but it’s difficult to find the time to write, post, share, tweet, pin and like posts as much as you should. Still, many seem to have all of their social media accounts well in hand, while still successfully operating their business. What is their secret? Do they have a hidden army of cobbler elves magically handling their social media accounts?

The real answer is that these individuals and businesses use Social media management tools (SMM) to organize and automate all of their social media accounts.  Of all of the thousands of SSM tools to choose from, Buffer makes it the easiest to engage with your customers online.

While I love Hootsuite because it is a great listening tool – you can watch feeds live – the interface is crowded and confusing.  Buffer does not offer the listening option, but its interface is clean and clear, so you know what you have posted or scheduled, and how well it did without having to dig hard to find the data.

Getting Started With Buffer

Getting started with a free Buffer account is easy; simply sign up with your Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn account, and then add your email address when you are prompted. Next, connect one profile each for your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, App.net and LinkedIn accounts. You can then schedule up to 10 daily posts for each connected account.Buffer

The awesome version of Buffer allows you to have two logins for one account, and you can connect up to 12 profiles from your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, App.net and LinkedIn accounts for just $10 a month.  For each account, you have unlimited Buffer space to schedule daily posts, you can add RSS feeds to your account, and you can vary the date and time for your scheduled posts.

Sharing is Caring

Once you’ve connected your social media accounts, you can then manage your Buffer account from any desktop, laptop, tablet, phone or browser. Buffer has extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari that make it easy to Tweet, or share any webpage directly from the browser.

Buffer works with Bit.ly, J.mp and Buff.ly to shorten the links that you include in your posts, which is especially helpful for social media platforms like Twitter, where you are limited to 140 characters.

Buffer uses If This Then That – IFTTT – to make it even easier to find and share posts from thousands of other sites on the web. Buffer also works directly with dozens of other sites, such as Feedly, Paper.li, Tweriod and Tracky to make it easy to find news, articles and blogs to share, while also making it easy to find the best time to Tweet and post and collaborate with others.

While you can certainly create manual schedules for posting in your Buffer account, the tool can also handle all of the work for you.  Buffer can suggest a posting schedule for you, and you can import an optimized schedule as well.

Buffer Keeps on Giving

Buffer’s ability to easily share and schedule posts is reason enough to love this SMM, but the tool has other features that thrill Buffer users, such as their helpful analytics dashboard.

Once you’ve started using Buffer to schedule your social media posts, you can then use their helpful analytics to see at a glance how well your posts and tweets are doing.  Buffer will tell you your top post and tweet, and will track clicks, likes, comments, +1s, reach, shares, re-shares and retweets across all of your social media profiles.

Buffer Shortcuts – The Icing on the Cake

While all of the features of Buffer can be accessed with just a simple click of a mouse or button, there are also several keyboard shortcuts that you can use to control Buffer from your browser.

Pressing “alt + b” opens the Buffer browser extension on any website. Choosing “alt + (number)” allows you to easily switch between profiles. Selecting “ctrl + enter” allows you to instantly add updates to Buffer.

You can also share text and images directly from your browser by right clicking on your selected text or an image and choosing to add to buffer once you’ve installed the Buffer browser extension.

What Are You Waiting For?

With all of these great features, Buffer makes it easy and effortless for you to manage and update all of your social media accounts without spending hours each day slaving away on your keyboard, wishing for magical elves to come to your rescue.  Why not give a free Buffer account a try today and see how easy it is to connect and engage with your customers?