I’m not a social media person. I don’t have time for it, I don’t enjoy it, and yet as a small business owner I can’t afford to ignore it.
From a business perspective I have four options.
- Hire someone overseas to manage it.
- Hire someone stateside to manage it.
- Suck it up and take care of it myself.
- Use a social media management tool.
Hiring someone unknown to represent my brand is not a leap of faith I’m ready to make yet. Sucking it up? Not an option. My time is best spent doing things that I enjoy and excel at.
My best bet?
Finding a social media tool that can automate the process and save time. I originally turned to Hootsuite as I had used it in the past but had to examine why I abandoned the tool in the first place. Exploring my feelings towards HootSuite helped me to identify what I wanted out of a tool. My non-negotiables were:
- Finding a site that was easy to use.
- Finding a site that added additional value through unique technology.
I ran both programs head-to-head for a month before picking a winner. While I will share with you whom I’ve selected, understand that what’s important to me may not be important to you. Along the way I collected data to help you decide which tool is the best for your business.
What is Buffer and Who is Edgar?
Buffer is a tool that is used to schedule posts on social media. The tool can help you post throughout the day at preset times to maximize your social media engagement.
Edgar is a scheduling tool for social media. He recycles your content automatically so that “the well doesn’t run dry.” What is recycling? You build a list of content that you want Edgar to share, and once he’s shared the last article he will go back to the beginning of the list and share everything again.
Round 1: Getting Started: Connectivity and Adding Content
Getting started with Edgar takes longer than getting started with Buffer, but there’s a good reason for the extra upfront effort.
TIP: Don’t be intimidated by Meet Edgar’s invitation process. Once requested, you should receive an invite within 24 hours.
The first step when setting up Edgar is connecting your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn), and then adding content. As Edgar recycles content, it’s vital to take your time and set everything up correctly from the beginning. If you don’t take the time to fill up your content library, the tool will continue to post the same things over and over again which will seem unnatural and spammy to those that follow you on social media.
The good news is that Edgar offers multiple ways to quickly fill your content library. First of all, you can enter a website or RSS feed URL and import content. Second, you can upload a CSV file. Finally, you can use the RSS Feed Manager and Edgar will continuously pull new content from your site on your behalf. This may sound complicated but it’s as easy as entering your web address and clicking a button. The only problem with Edgar’s auto import feature is that it will not import pictures, hashtags, or @mentions so those items need to be added manually if they are important to you.
Buffer connects to more social media platforms. You can connect to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. Also, while both tools support adding pictures, only Buffer supports adding video to scheduled content.
To setup Buffer, connect your social media platforms and start to add content. As the tool does not automatically recycle content, making sure your queue is full from the beginning is not as vital as it is with Edgar. However, there is one option for mass import with Buffer which is the RSS feed option. To pull recent content, head to the content tab and add your URL to pull recent articles into the tool. The difference between Edgar’s automated RSS pull and Buffer’s is that Buffer’s import is a one-time occurrence and the imported items must be manually scheduled by you. Edgar will continuously monitor the feed and pull in new content and automatically schedule content on your behalf.
Round Winner: Buffer is faster to setup but Edgar offers more long-term time savings if you invest time into proper setup. Winner? Edgar. I’ll take a slow dime over a quick nickel any day.
Round 2: Chrome Extensions, Apps, and 3rd Party Integration
Buffer and Edgar offer Chrome extensions to help fill up your content queue. The extensions sit on your Google Chrome toolbar and will let you schedule content as you surf the web. Though they both have the same underlying goal, they approach the goal differently.
Buffer’s Chrome Extension also has a Power Scheduler that will let you share the same content multiple times at different intervals. For example you can share the content now and again in seven days. Not exactly the same as Edgar’s automated re-share feature, but it is nice to have the option to share content more than once.
Another area where Buffer shines is with 3rd party apps beyond the Chrome Extension. There are apps for IFTTT, feedly, pocket, WordPress, and more.
I’ve covered using IFTTT with home automation on my own site and tested it many times. Through IFTTT you can create different triggers in a recipe style format. There are currently two trigger options.
- Any new post in Buffer.
- New photo in Buffer.
From there, you can create a reaction like “if a post is made on Google, put it in my Google spreadsheet.” On the other hand, Buffer can be the reaction. For example, “Add my Instagram photos to my Buffer queue.” Through IFTTT you can connect Buffer to other services like YouTube, Facebook, WordPress, Blogger, Pocket, Tumblr, and Evernote.
Finally, Buffer has mobile apps for both iOS and Android.
Round Winner: Buffer. Though Edgar has a Chrome Extension, it doesn’t offer integration with 3rd party apps.
Round 3: Creating a Content Schedule
Edgar’s content scheduling feature is what sets it apart from others. One of the most time consuming components of owning a website is creating and finding valuable content. For example, I invested 49 hours into an article recently. On Twitter it had 245 impressions. That’s not bad but it deserves more. That’s where Edgar comes in, he automatically recycles your content which helps in two ways.
- It saves time.
- It makes sure your work is seen by as many people as possible.
Part of the process with creating a content schedule on Edgar is creating categories. There are preset categories like Questions, Tips, Use Once, or you can add your own. These categories are important as they are used in the auto-sharing process. When auto-sharing, Edgar will pick from different categories and is smart enough to know what type of post should be shared at what time depending upon how your followers engage.
Edgar will use a custom schedule that you create. He will then pull from the multiple categories to give your shared content more variety. If you don’t trust the tool to pick what category is best, you can create your own schedule based upon categories. As a compromise you may want Edgar to do some of the work in addition to creating your own category-based schedule. This would work well if you’re into things like #TBT or #FF. You could create a category called #TBT and ask Edgar to share content from this category every Thursday.
Buffer does not have categories. Instead you add posts manually and they go out based upon a schedule that you create. You can setup different posting schedules for your content. For example, you may select your Twitter account and say that you want it to post four times every day or you might select Facebook and ask that Buffer only post on the weekends. It’s the same concept as Edgar minus the categories, with less automation, and with a different visual layout.
Round Winner: Edgar. This is where he shines. The content process is more automated which is a huge timesaver.
Round 4: Price
The plans for Edgar and Buffer are like apples and oranges.
Buffer’s entry level plan is significantly less expensive than Edgar’s. In fact, individual plans are free. I am using their entry level paid plan called the Awesome Plan. The Awesome Plan is $10 per month or $102 per year. Next they have a Small Business Plan for $50 per month or $510 per year, a Medium Business Plan for $100 per month or $1,020 per year, and a Large Business Plan for $250 per month or $2,250 per year.
Buffer’s free plan allows you to connect one profile for each social network and can store up to ten posts for each profile in the queue. The Awesome plan bumps that number up to 100 posts via ten different social profiles.
Moving from the free plan to the Awesome plan allows for creative scheduling. Buffer explains it like this,
With the Individual Plan you can choose days and times but not different times for different days. So, I can have my posts go out at 3 PM and 5 PM, Monday and Wednesday. On the paid plan, you can have 3 go out every Monday, 2 on Tuesday, 6 on Friday, etc. All at whatever times you set.
Moving to a business plan will bring even more features like the ability to add multiple team members to help manage your page. The Small plan adds five team members and this can expand to 25 team members in the Large plan. The Small plan also allows for management of 25 social media profiles and Google Analytics integration.
Edgar’s Starter plan is $49 per month. This price allows you to connect up to ten social media accounts and will let you hold 1,000 pieces of content in your library for sharing. Their secondary plan is the Premium plan and it’s $99 per month. This plan will allow you to connect up to 25 social media accounts and store up to 5,000 items to share.
Round Winner: Buffer. A free option, cheaper options, and options for team member access put Buffer ahead of Edgar in the pricing category.
Round 5: Analytics
Buffer offers analytics with paid plans only. When using analytics you can slice and dice the data multiple ways. You can choose to look at what post had the most clicks, was the most popular, most retweeted, most favorited, or which one had the most replies or the greatest reach. You can also look at your least popular posts. To dig in further you can look at all of your posts or compare how image posts did vs. link, text, and retweet posts. Sorting will show you what’s working and what’s not.
Upgrading to a Business plan will add even more analytics capabilities with Buffer. You can connect Google Analytics and sort the included data in new ways, like by date. For example, “show me all data on image posts from the last 30 days or from yesterday” and you can then export all of this data.
Edgar includes analytics to measure engagement as well. For Edgar, this happens from the statistics tab. On the statistics tab you can check your recent posts including what category the post was from, what account it was posted to, how many likes you received, comments, and shares. You can filter this data by category, account, or by specific post.
Round Winner: Buffer. They allow you to dig further into the details like looking at the performance of posts with and without images.
It’s easy to compare content scheduling, setup, and pricing, but actually testing products reveals the little things.
For example, integrating your Twitter account with Buffer will add a small button to the bottom of all Twitter posts. You can use this to retweet others and to add those retweets to your queue. You can do this to recycle your own tweets or those shared by others.
On the other hand, Edgar has provided way more training. I’ve attended a live workshop and received dozens of videos and tips to help me get started. Their hands-on support has been top notch.
Buffers wins for its ability to connect to more social media platforms and 3rd party apps. However, my primary goal was to automate the process and save time so I picked Edgar. Manually filling up the Buffer queue was time consuming and it worried me that my queue might run out of content. I don’t have to worry about that with Edgar. It’s constantly pulling new articles from my website and sharing them for me. If it runs out of things to share, it will pull something I’ve already shared in the past. It’s like a social media personal assistant for $50 per month. That seems like a deal to me.
What has your experience been with these two tools (or other social media management solutions)? Did you pick a different one for one of the reasons I listed above? Share your thoughts in the comments!