Buffer may get all the attention for being the underdog that has a penchant for epic blog posts which resonate with social media marketers, but Hoot rules the nest. When it comes to actual use of the top social media management dashboard web apps, Hootsuite seems to be the clear market leader.
A SimilarWeb PRO comparison between Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Buffer and Oktopost shows that traffic on Hootsuite beats out all the others by a significant amount. 60% of the traffic share goes to Hoot, with 30% to Tweetdeck and extremely small percentages to the other three. Hoot leads in visit duration as well, indicating that it’s being used extensively by serious marketers. Oktopost takes the lead in pages per visit, which is likely due to the structure of the website, which requires more page loads to accomplish tasks.
These web apps are made to enable marketers to push content to social platforms so that audiences will click through and end up back on the hosted pages of the marketer’s choosing. However, we can also learn quite a bit by examining the reverse flow, comparing how much traffic each of the social management app sites receive from social referrals. In the past year, Hootsuite has received 55% of the group’s referrals from social media, with Facebook and Twitter sending the most social traffic to all of these sites. Twitter is ahead by a lot, with Tweetdeck relying most heavily on it (not surprising, since Tweetdeck was bought by Twitter and only allows user to post to Twitter), with 73% of its social traffic coming from there.
Equally noteworthy is outbound traffic from the social management web apps to various social sites. Hootsuite sends users to Facebook 40% of the time and Twitter 35%. LinkedIn comes in a distant third with 4%. Tweetdeck sends users mostly to Twitter (46%), followed by Vine, which is a sub-brand of Twitter (15%) and Facebook (10%), although it’s important to remember that Tweetdeck is used just as often to read (and click on links in) tweets as it is used to post tweets.
Buffer’s traffic is a more diverse mix, with Twitter and Facebook in the lead, at 34% and 14% respectively. SimilarWeb’s crawlers are seeing only a small proportion Oktopost’s outbound traffic being directed to social media sites at all, but this is likely due to the privacy settings of the app and therefore not representative of how it’s actually being used.
What’s behind marketers’ clear preference of Hootsuite? One of the biggest advantages of Hootsuite is the sheer number of social networks it connects to, allowing you to post to multiple social media sites and to post to more than one type of presence on some of them. For instance, you can post to both a LinkedIn page and your LinkedIn profile, Facebook pages, groups and profiles, Tumblr, Instagram, Reddit, Vimeo YouTube and even more obscure sites such as StumbleUpon and FourSquare.
Businesses with more than one staff member managing social media can add managers to a single Hootsuite account. This allows more than one person to post without necessitating sharing of passwords. Communication between managers is made easy with direct messages between team members and the ability to delegate tasks inside the platform. While Buffer does support multi-user accounts, it doesn’t offer messaging among the team.
Hootsuite is also available as an app for many different devices, which is extremely useful for a social media manager who needs to be plugged in on the go. And since Hootsuite has its own url shortener (ow.ly), it easily tracks all your activity and sends free reports by email. This makes tracking and reporting ROI much simpler and speedier.
Despite the obvious popularity of Hootsuite with marketers, there are some advantages to the other platforms. Tweetdeck, for example, is totally free and doesn’t require upgrading to Pro in order to access all the features.
Freelance or agency-employed social media marketers who work for multiple clients are limited by the free Hoot to five Twitter accounts and must upgrade to Pro for access to more accounts. Hootsuite only offers one URL shortening choice, while Tweetdeck offers a choice of two. Another advantage of Tweetdeck is that it shows retweets, so that it becomes a listening tool as well as a broadcasting one. Oktopost is considered to be especially strong for marketers who want to specialize in LinkedIn, and it has a social post calendar overview planning tool.
Buffer allows users to preset timing for all posts to each social network, so you don’t have to (but still have the option to) schedule each post manually. Once you figure out when the peak time is for you to post to your audience, you only have to set that up once, and Buffer’s integration with Tweriod makes this even easier.
Ultimately, the best way to decide which platform is best for you is to try out the free versions and see what feels comfortable, what features you can and can’t live without, and what’s worth paying for. Although it can be cumbersome, some marketers choose to use more than platform in order to get the benefits of each one.