Ken Horst

Timely vs. Buffer – Which Timed Tweets Tool is Right for You?

Ken Horst     Online Marketing, Social Media

Twitter ToolsIn my quest to find a more efficient and effective way to leverage Twitter, I’ve come across a plethora of new and interesting social media tools.

Recently, I’ve been testing two tools that surfaced in my research, Timely and Buffer, which I classify as tweet timing tools.  Timely is a product of the folks at Flowtown and Buffer is from the co-creator of OnePage.

This relatively new and emerging class of tools helps users schedule their tweets based on the best time of day based on the probability of click or a re-tweet.  They both appear to use an algorithm that is able to discern what time of day the majority of your users will see your tweet, increasing the probability that someone will re-tweet it.

The following is a comparison of these two tools based on my experience. I’ll begin by sharing where these two tools are similar.

Scheduling Tweets

Both Timely and Buffer make it easy for the user to schedule tweets.  In either case, you can simply enter your tweet, including a tiny url, into the dashboard and click on “add”. Both tools than move your scheduled tweet to the scheduled area of the dashboard so you can see everything you have going out over time.

Timely schedule a tweet

Buffer schedule a tweet

Additionally, both tools offer a handy browser plug-in to make it even easier to curate content and tweet it.  When you find an article, blog post or other type of content, simply click on the browser button to create your tweet, append and load it into your queue.  This is the perfect match between content curation and social sharing and can help users build their social influence.

Reporting and Analytics

The second area where Timely and Buffer are similar is they both offer reporting on the performance of your tweets.  Both sites report reach, clicks and re-tweets but on this comparison, I have to go with Timely’s reporting as I found it more informative and easier to read.

Timely reporting

Timely reporting of tweets
Buffer reporting
Buffer reporting of tweet performance

That’s it for similarities and as you can see, they stack up pretty close on the key features and functionality.  Now let’s take a look at the differences and see if we can’t help you arrive at a conclusion about which tool to try.

The first difference is that Buffer appears to offer this same capabilities for Facebook posts.

Buffer for Facebook
The big disappointment came when I clicked on the call-to-action. After I agreed to a rather brutal Facebook authorization request and shared my action on my Facebook page (requested by Buffer), I was informed that the sign up process I just went through has only qualified me for “early access”.
Buffer Facebook authorizaton

This wasn’t what I thought I would be getting at all, so I proceeded to remove Buffer from my Facebook account.

Tie Breaker

The final difference, and the one factor that made it an easy decision for me as to which tool to use had to do with cost.

Buffer offers 3 options to use their tool:

  1. Free – Which includes 1 Twitter account and up to 10 tweets in queue at a time
  2. Pro – $10/month – Which offers 3 Twitter accounts, up to 50 tweets in queue at a time, 2 team members and daily tweeting patterns
  3. Premium – $30/month – Which offers Unlimited Twitter accounts, Unlimited tweets in queue, 4 team member accounts, and a direct line to the founder

Timely offers 2 options to use their tool:

  1. Free – Which offers unlimited Twitter accounts, unlimited tweets in queue and unlimited team members.
  2. Timely Pro – $9.99/month – Offers all of the above and Priority Email Support 24/7

As I summed up the features I cared most about and compared pricing, the decision was easy. I’m using Timely.  I should also point out that I have several Twitter accounts and I tend to do a lot of content curation at one time.

Let us know if you are using one or the other of these tools and what our experience has been. What other Twitter tools do you find to be most useful? What other social media tools would you like to see us review?

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Comments

  1. Of course if everybody optimizes the timing of their tweets for the times when people are most likely to see/retweet them, it’ll become even harder for anybody to get any viewers or retweets at those times of day because the channel will be so overloaded.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good point Tom, kind of like when everybody wanted to know the best day and time to send out their emails. 

      What is surprising to me is how few people I know that are aware of either one of these great tools.  Seems like this is a good time to use them, before the laggards fly in and your prediction becomes true.

  2. Lonnie Ebel says:

    Sounds good, I will try the Timely based on your comparisons. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks for the heads up. I currently use Buffer and it is a great tool for scheduling tweets so I will check out Timely based on your review. The only downside for Buffer which I find for the free version is the limit of 10 tweets which you can schedule in advance.

    For review suggestions I’d like to see Crowbooster versus Socialbro. I use both but haven’t had time to fully explore all their features and especially for Socialbro. Also any tools which monitor URL shortened clicks. I’m hoping Twitter’s roll out of their analytics tools will cover this and I think they will seeing that they acquired BackType.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m also looking forward to seeing Twitter analytics, hoping it comes out soon.

      I like your suggestion about Crowdbooster versus Socialbro.  I am dabbling in Crowdbooster now and I’ll dig into Socialbro over the weekend

  4. Good choice, Ken! I also prefer Timely and have been using it for a while now. I was inclined to try out Buffer but I ran as far as possible after I saw that it has a limit of 10 scheduled tweets. 

  5. I use SocialOomph for scheduling my tweets. I manage several accounts and I am able to create queues that can be scheduled multiple ways and allows the posts to be recycled. I can also do batch uploads to a specific queue. The down side – the interface is not as slick, but it’s great for mass scheduling. (It posts to FB too). I haven’t explored much with the stats function – I use Sprout Social (and I have a Crowdbooster account too) for stats, reports, and finding new followers/trends).

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Tia,

      Thanks for mentioning these other tools. From what I’ve seen of them so far, they also look like a good solutions for serious social marketers.

  6. SocialFlow is also doing some very interesting things in this space that goes well beyond timing.

  7. I’m using Timely and dig their services. You gotta be careful with how many tweets you schedule though… after a while your tweets will start to taste like metal if you over-do it.

  8. Thanks for the comparison over there, I normally use hootsuite, but looks like I have lost my logins when I cleared my cookies. Yikes!

  9. Holden Page says:

    Does Timely have mobile/browser/twitter/blog extensions, making it easy to buffer from nearly anywhere? 

    That to me is what makes Buffer killer, and worth the price. 

  10. I use and love both, but for me Buffer has a *slight* edge because I sometimes want the option of controlling the timing of the content instead of letting it go whenever the tool calculates is best. Also, Buffer is great if you are an avid Google Reader user. I find most of the content I want to tweet from there, and Buffer allows you to schedule them right from Reader–so convenient!

  11. I can see how considering accounts and desire to schedule many tweets at once that time.ly saves you money. However, Time.ly is completely unusable for me personally, as it offers no customization beyond a small number of choices for total tweets per day.

    Buffer allows infinite customization of times sent, and shuffling of messages after scheduling, and several other customizations, all of which I use every day. 

    It also increases the number of posts you get on the free version for every person you recommend—for both you AND the person accepting your recommendation. So the limitation of total messages is not as few as it may seem in practice.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for the input Dave!

      I was not aware of the spiff for referring friends.  I was so excited to start using the tool that I didn’t even see the referral link in the top nav.

      I’m a also a big fan of Hootsuite and use that for some of the functionality you mentioned.

      Still searching for the perfect tool that does it all 🙂

  12. I prefer Timely too – the limitations of Buffer made the choice easy. 

  13. Ken,

    Thanks a lot for the great review here and for the mention. Absolutely, I think Timely is a great Tool indeed and your comparison is very comprehensive, I am sure it will be very useful for others.

    As @holdenpage:disqus and @QuantumGood:disqus mentioned below, there are a few key Buffer features that aren’t highlighted here and I believe, we aren’t doing a great job of showing them to you up front. 

    So I hope I can explain them here:

    – You can use the browser extension to Buffer articles from any website and even on Twitter.com to Buffer your retweets

    – You can Buffer from any mobile phone or tablet with just one click: http://blog.bufferapp.com/add-to-buffer-from-your-mobile

    – You can put a Buffer button on blogs to make Buffering even simpler. 

    I hope these things make it interesting to give it a go. If you have any more thoughts or feedback on Buffer, please let me know here or on Twitter @LeoWid, I would love to hear how we can improve Buffer for you. 🙂

    Leo,
    Co-Founder, Buffer

    • Hi Leo, unfortunately my Buffer via mobile hasn’t been working since an update (server?) a few weeks ago. I’ve tried reinstalling the app but it hasn’t solved the issue. Any idea when this is likely to be resolved? 
      Is there any chance you can increase the number of scheduled tweets for the free version?

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Leo,

      I do like the Twitter integration of Buffer and haven’t had a chance to use the mobile app but I agree that’s another great feature. 

      What I’d really like to see is an iPad app that works with Flipboard.

      Thanks for pointing out the features I missed and I will continue to test both tools.

      Ken

      • Ken, thanks a lot for your response and feedback here. This helps us a great deal!

        Yes, absolutely, we are already in talks with Flipboard.

        Oh and btw, you can already Buffer very easily from Flipboard with the email integration: http://bit.ly/esOkGN, was taught so by our users!

        Hope that helps, will keep you posted on the latest insights for sure Ken. 🙂 

  14. Great post Ken! I really like how you provide the screen shots to show how easy it is to use.  I’ll be looking to you from now on for the latest and greatest social tools!

  15. Never used timely but it looks very similar to buffer.

    I love buffer though makes it so easy to tweet and never have to flood my followers, hate it when someone posts too often they normally get a unfollow.

  16. Hi Kent! Currently I am using hootsuite but I will checkout about timely. Good to know some new marketing tools.

  17. duane forrester says:

    While these are cool tools for sure, what I REALLY want is for HootSuite to buffer BETWEEN my tweets, or allow me settings to manage this, so I can space several tweets 60 seconds or so apart…

  18. When comparing prices, practical choice is timely. However, any of the two are great.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Hi Ken, you made compression of a “standard” BMW – Timely and “full loaded’ BMW in my case Buffer. I tried Timely a while ago and got really annoyed about their functionality and support. First non of the extensions for any kind of browser are available, nor mobile support and lets not talk that i could not find any application on the market being integrated with timely. Buffer has all of above plus support. Guys are extremely supportive and always prepared to help if there is any issue. As Leo mention “buffer button for blog” functionality  that i really enjoy and many bloggers are using it as they understand importance of optimization. 

    As for the Facebook that you pointed out, would be fair to say that many applications were not working properly in last few weeks with the new Facebook update. I personally think that guys at buffer are waiting that all bugs and glitches with timelines are settled in place and then will roll it out. 

    As i mention to you above support at Timely really sucks i had an issue with tweets not showing in tweet stream, ask the question and never got an answer to it. Well yes is unlimited and is free, but free might mean as well that your tweets will never show up in your twitter stream as happened to me. 

    Personally i have PRO account with buffer and my engagement went up for 400 % in 30 days after using buffer as only app for scheduling my tweets and optimizing my tweeting time.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for your feedback.  I think they are both good tools and I’m still testing both.

  20. I use Timely and Buffer for my main account because I always have tons of stuff to tweet, for my other 7 accounts I use Timely since it’s free even for multiple accounts.

  21. Very informative blog…! Have created my account on timely… 🙂 Thanx

  22. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Ken for sharing your insights on Timely and Buffer, though I’m using the one I’ve created to manage my multiple social networking sites – and you’re free to take a peek (Garious). If you do, please send me a message via twitter, thanks. Now, on the subject of automating posts, I think that balance must be achieved and that one must automate responsibly. I just noticed lately that automated posts don’t get much impressions on Facebook, perhaps because of Edge Rank. Still, whatever tools you use to automate mundane tasks like news sharing, the idea here is to free up your time.. so you can use that time instead to engage more with your peers online.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for the info Aaron! I agree that just straight automation is not the right answer and without post tweet engagement, no tool will build a loyal community.

      I will definitely check out your tool!

      Ken

      • Anonymous says:

        You’re welcome!  Let me know if you do and send me a tweet about it, thanks!

      • Ken, I have a quick question – have you double-checked  timely’s “click count” with the actual hits on your site as measured by your site traffic? I’m not sure where they’re getting this number from but when I see 22 clicks on a tweet I expect to see an increase of 22 hits on my site. This isn’t happening. And timely.is doesn’t offer any way to ask the question or provide explanations of the performance metrics they’re using. At first I thought this was a great tool, but not seeing a correlating increase in traffic on my site, I’m not so sure now.

        • Hi Alison – I haven’t checked Timely’s click count against my GA yet,  thanks for the heads up.  I’ll check it over the weekend and let you know if I also find a discrepancy.

          Ken

  23. Ken,
    very good article. well wishir
    Thanks a lot for the great review here and for the mention.
    Absolutely, I think Timely is a great Tool indeed and your comparison is
    very comprehensive, I am sure it will be very useful for others.

  24. Hi Duane – I’m also wondering why HootSuite hasn’t rolled out this feature yet, I hope it’s in their plans soon.

    Molly –  I have also reduced my use of HootSuite for the same reason.  I tend to curate content at alarming rates of speed and having a tool like Timely or Buffer that automatically schedules tweets around maximum reach potential makes me much more efficient.

    Thanks for your comments!

  25. Hey Ken,

    Excellent post and comparison. I am also running from Buffer because of the price per month. More tools are becoming available either for free or next to free. I was wondering if you had a public answer to Alison’s concern about click count with Timely? 
    Please share your findings and save us the possible headache. 

  26. Hey Ken,

    Excellent post and comparison. I am also running from Buffer because of the price per month. More tools are becoming available either for free or next to free. I was wondering if you had a public answer to Alison’s concern about click count with Timely? 
    Please share your findings and save us the possible headache. 

  27. I’ve been a Buffer user for a while and really like it. I just learned about Timely and will give it a try. 

    I thought I’d point out that both services have extensions in Google Chrome which make it easy to schedule tweets. 

  28. I’ve just switched from Buffer to Timely (free version of each) on the strength of this blog posting. I like being able to schedule unlimited tweets. Buffer’s functionality is better regarding reordering scheduled tweets though.

  29. I am a big fan of twitter and I think I would give Timely a try since I find the free version of Buffer very handy although it limits my ques compare to what you have said about Timely who allows to schedule unlimited tweets and add multiple accounts.

  30. Nice comparison.

    http://greatpicx.com

  31. Thanks for the great information Ken. I’m already a long time user of Bufferapp. But since today I needed a second “Buffer” because of I ain’t wanna upgrade my Bufferapp for having a second buffer pattern. So from today on I’m going to use Bufferapp and Timely.