Buffer Has a New Story to Tell

Thursday, October 10, 2019
Michael Zunenshine
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Buffer has been on our radar for a while—as far as social media managers go, they’ve combined simplicity with near-omni functionality across all major social channels.

Last week, the company announced a new feature: scheduling for Instagram Stories. With the new release, Buffer helps brands better achieve optimum presence in a social realm known for its limitations on cross-functional planning and posting. 

Stories, stories everywhere

Buffer has three main products: Publish, Reply, and Analyze. The latest updates for IG Stories come under the Publish platform.

Normally, any single-image or video post can be crafted and posted to Instagram via Buffer. Stories, on the other hand, were trickier.

Less so now, as Buffer has a new and improved set up to plan and schedule IG Stories. 

The setup makes it easy to storyboard posts, try out different captions, and set a date and time for when you want the post to go up. Stories can have up to ten files. The feature also gives you an overview of all scheduled posts, which can be rearranged with drag-and-drop functionality. 

It’s important to note that Buffer can’t auto-post a pre-scheduled Story. Instead, you get a notification to your phone at the designated time and take the final steps yourself.  

More IG awesomeness

Shop til you drop

No brand in the ecommerce arena should be missing out on Instagram as it’s the best way to reach people in this instant-image-obsessed commercial environment.

You don’t just want a presence, you want to give followers quick and easy access to purchase the goods you’re showing off. Remember, Instagram lacks hyperlinking in posts, and every extra click, link, hoop or step results in pipeline drop-offs.

The Instagram Shop Grid from Buffer streamlines the process from seeing a gotta-have something, to “basketing” it as a sale. 

All you need to do is use a Buffer Shop Grid link in your Instagram bio. This way, when any follower clicks an image on your Instagram account, they’ll get to the Shop Grid page where they can browse and buy. 

Comments and hashtags

Does this sound familiar? You plan and schedule a post. It goes up. Before you have a chance, some wisenheimer or overenthusiastic emoji-dropper crams up your top comment real estate.

Buffer takes care of this with the First Comments feature. 

The feature allows you to precompose the first comment to be published simultaneously with your post. The move allows you to improve even further the narrative of your post. 

Buffer’s Instagram Hashtag Manager lets you create and name groups of hashtags, so you can assign whole groups for each post. Instagram has a limit of 30 per post, so Buffer caps you out at 30 per group. As long as you stay within the 30-limit, you can utilize multiple hashtag groups per post. 

Hashtag manager and First Comments go hand-in-hand, since really, what better first comment on any post than the most relevant hashtags custom-picked by you and your team.

The premium connection

Buffer’s Premium version is where you’ll get to leverage the full force of Buffer for Instagram.

At $65 billed monthly (~20% off billed annually), Premium gets you Scheduled Stories, the Shop Grid, and the Hashtag Manager (First Comments you receive with the more basic Pro plan).

Additionally, you get team management, allowing you to invite users and assign each a level of permission to create, edit or publish posts, plus authorization rights. Team members can access company Hashtag groups in the Manager. 

Finally, the Premium version (and up) have full-history basic reports (as opposed to just the last 30 days on lighter plans), as well as deeper overview analytics, which measure the evolution of your impressions, engagements, and followers over time. 

Buffer listens

When users speak, the team at Buffer tries to be as all-ears as possible.

Mike Eckstein, the product marketer at Buffer, has been looking into how users feel about Instagram, and “found that there was a common theme; they were spending too much time navigating between tools to prepare their Stories.” Another issue was that users are “scrambling to keep up with their audience’s appetite for regular content.” 

The idea behind Buffer’s latest update is to minimize the back-and-forth app hopping, which speeds up and smooths out the process, letting brands prep, pivot and post as nimbly as possible.

Putting this most recent round of focus on Instagram Stories is no haphazard decision either. IG Stories surpassed 500 million daily active users earlier this year, and a Facebook survey shows that 62% of people become interested in a brand after seeing its content on Stories.

Great things come in 3s

Let’s not forget that all of this is a part of Buffer Publish, which along with Instagram lets you manage posts for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Publish itself is just one of three of Buffer’s total packages. Reply is a customer service tool that consolidates your communication across all channels into one simple dashboard, and Analyze does deep analytics for all things Instagram and Facebook.

The combo of Buffer’s Big Three, along with their regular updates—and not to forget their incredibly easy-on-the-eye/easier-to-use design—all come together to make Buffer a regular award winner: For five years running, they’ve nabbed one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s best companies

No doubt we’ll keep seeing updates, upgrades, and accolades when it comes to this company and their social media solutions.

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