As the brains behind one of the leading social media tools on the market, you’d expect Buffer to be pretty savvy on social media themselves and you wouldn’t be wrong. With a strong presence across a number of different channels in terms of marketing and employer branding, they’re one to keep an eye on and a lot can be learnt from the breakthrough tech firm for your own business.
The trailblazers who describe their social media scheduling tool as ‘the best way to drive traffic, increase fan engagement and save time on social media’ have been running since 2010 and Buffer was initially founded by Joel Gascoigne and Leo Widrich in Birmingham, later moved to San Francisco. Over the 5 years since the business was launched, the team has expanded to nearly 60 employees, located around the world and Buffer is now used by thousands globally for businesses and personal use alike.
One of the things that makes Buffer and it’s success really unique, is that the team all work remotely, communicating with each other via video chat sessions and instant messaging. Founder Joel, describes their set up as exciting and predicts that most businesses will be doing the same in a few years time.
If you aren’t familiar with Buffer, the tool allows you to schedule content to be posted across your different social media channels in advance. You add updates to your Buffer queue and it will be posted for you well spaced out over the day – and at the best times. The beauty of it, is that it allows you to get on with your day with the ease of knowing that your social media accounts are looking after themselves.
In December Buffer announced that they have acquired the new customer service and brand monitoring tool, ‘Respondly‘, so watch this space!
— Buffer (@buffer) December 17, 2015
I took a look at how Buffer are using social media for marketing their product, as well as how they have used it to build such an admirable employer brand.
Buffer are the most active on Twitter and have their largest following of 448,000 on there. They maintain a strong online presence by posting about once an hour on average, presumably all scheduled up in advance with use of their own tool! Making their updates 24/7 means that they are reaching audiences who are active at all hours of the day, which is essential for a global company like themselves.
The majority of their updates on Twitter are links to their blog, which has been commended for it’s expertly crafted and well distributed content. In order to make their updates stand out among their followers newsfeeds, all posts include images – some visuals to do with stats and information in the article and others using funny GIFs and images that followers can relate to.
Though the content is all very informative, a humorous edge is added to their tone of voice on Twitter by including this kind of imagery:
— Buffer (@buffer) January 11, 2016
The tone of voice used to introduce each blog post is both informative and relatable, adapting titles as though they are addressing the reader, for example, “How I Taught Myself to Be Less Busy (And You Can, Too)” or “The #1 Mistake We All Make on Twitter (It’s Probably Not What You’re Expecting.)”
Sharing industry related content is a really effective means of Buffer building their brand awareness and creating a credible reputation for themselves and their product. Sharing interesting insights and informative posts about advancements in tech and social media is also an incredibly efficient way of attracting individuals who may be interested in working for the organisation.
In fact, users frequently Tweet the business to flag up their job applications and connect with the Buffer team personally.
Hashtags are used sparingly on their updates and when they are used they use quite broad terms that are highly searchable, such as “#TwitterTips and “#SocialMedia.” The one branded hashtag used on the account is #BufferChat, used for their Twitter chats.
Their Twitter Chats play a huge role in building a community around their brand and they receive really great engagement, in terms of people responding to their questions, as well as Retweeting interesting insights to their network and engaging in conversation with other members of the Twitter Chat.
— Buffer (@buffer) January 12, 2016
They invite special guests to host these on a weekly basis and cover all sorts of topics, ranging from diversity in tech, to how to grow your Twitter network.
They do a great job of interacting with their audience on Twitter and are incredibly responsive when other users Tweet them directly or share their content. The tone they use is very human, making them a very approachable and relatable brand. In order for their community to get to know the team a bit better, they all sign off their tweets with their name so users know who they are chatting to.
@mdsain75 Yay, Michele! I'm stoked to hear that! 🙂 -Darcy
— Buffer (@buffer) January 15, 2016
The content that Buffer share on Facebook is much like that on Twitter, made up of their blog posts, however they only post around 3 updates a day, which is much better suited to the platform.
Each blog link has a tailored introduction, that works as a teaser to draw the reader in. They frequently pose questions to encourage their followers to engage with the content.
Though a lot of their content is industry related, Buffer also frequently publish blog posts to do with their individual company culture and how the Buffer team support each other to ensure that everyone remains engaged and satisfied in their jobs. They are now known for and pride themselves on their transparency, sharing both the ups and downs within the business with their audience and introducing the employees, so that followers get to know the people behind the brand.
These are great stories to share with the audience, as people love to see the human side of a brand and it demonstrates what they are like as an employer, as well as a service provider.
The level of engagement isn’t quite as high as on Twitter, however their posts often prompt conversation and Buffer are very efficient at replying to their follower’s thoughts and queries. In general feedback is very positive and Buffer staff respond with enthusiasm and good nature.
Cross promotion of Buffer’s other accounts works particularly well on Facebook, by placing buttons on their Facebook page that redirects users to their Instagram page and sign-up page for their mailing list. The large ‘Sign Up’ button also makes it quick and easy to sign up for the tool, converting new customers with a simple click of a button.
Buffer’s company page on LinkedIn in sleek and professional, keeping their company info brief and to the point and their banner as a simple logo.
While Buffer use LinkedIn to drive traffic to their blog, much like on Twitter and Facebook, they also use it as their go to platform for recruitment marketing, posting job adverts for current vacancies, as well as articles about their culture and values as an employer. The nature of LinkedIn makes it the best platform to use for hiring purposes, as the network is largely used for job search and recruitment; whereas followers on other platforms may be put off by job adverts.
Buffer have built a really effective employer brand through their transparency, sharing everything from their level of diversity within their team, to the salaries offered for each role and how much holiday their staff get.
Blog posts shared on LinkedIn receive really good engagement from followers, both in terms of likes and comments and the team are incredibly responsive, replying to comments with enthusiasm and personality.
They only post about once a day, however minimal works best on LinkedIn where posts remain on people’s newsfeeds for much longer than other networks.
Buffer have made quite a name for themselves on Instagram, for the way they present their strong employer brand on there. Instagram is the perfect platform for showcasing your employees and a giving followers a bit of a sneak peak into what life is like working for the company and Buffer do this really well.
As their bio says “Buffer helps you manage your social media accounts in one place with scheduling & analytics! We’re trying to build a transparent, fun company, too. ?” and this ‘fun’ culture really shines through in the images they share.
As their team work remotely from around the globe, they frequently share photographs from all the different countries the employees are from and visit, as well as the unique locations that each of them are working from, whether it be from their bedroom, an airport, or even a beach if they’re lucky!
In order for their followers to get to know each member of the team a bit better, they all take it in turns to take charge of the Instagram account and share what they are up to throughout the week, both for work and in their personal life. This really helps to show the human side of the brand that people can relate to and sheds a bit of light on the life of a Buffer employee. They use the hashtag #weekinthelife on each of these posts, which is frequently used by lots of other Instagram users.
Hanging out with the London Buffer gang for a bit! We had a mini meetup today to welcome Hannah to the team 🙂 It's always fun when a few of us gather to work together for a day, we're lucky to be able to organise a few UK meetups a year, sometimes also inviting our community to join us at the pub afterwards! 🙂 -Kat #weekinthelife #london #welcomehannah
I’m surprised to see that they have not created their own branded hashtag and do not use hashtags that frequently, however their engagement levels are good and they have a very vocal community who regularly comment on the photos shared. When a question is asked in the caption of an image, they can receive an average of around 6 or so comments from their followers, as people love to share their own experiences. Like on their other platforms, Buffer are really responsive and adopt a really friendly and easy-going tone.
Buffer use Pinterest to build an all round picture of the company, from what they do, their expertise on social media and insights into the personalities and interests of all of their employees.
They have boards offering tips for each of the social media platforms, as well as topics of general interest. One board that I feel was particularly clever of them is one called ‘Buffer + Pinterest‘ which explains to users exactly how they can use Buffer to manage their Pinterest account, including how to schedule your pins and how to quote text from an article in your pins.
Their boards ‘Happy and Healthy‘, ‘Travel‘ and ‘Cute Animals = Happiness‘ are great for building brand awareness among Pinteresters users who may not necessarily be aware of the tool, as these are themes that are most searched for on the platform.
Like on the other platforms, they allow followers to get to know the team a bit better by getting the team involved in pinning things that interest them. Their board ‘Buffer People‘ for example shares projects that Buffer employees have completed in their own time and ‘What we’re reading‘ gives you a bit of an insight into their interests.
Overall I think that Buffer has a really strong presence across all platforms on social media, after all they are experts in the area! They really know how to represent themselves in a way that makes them relatable to both consumers and prospective employees, as people love to learn a little more about the people and culture behind a company.
They tailor their content effectively for the different platforms, for example posting their more visual and employee based content on Instagram, focusing on sharing informative material via Twitter and Facebook and making use of LinkedIn for recruitment purposes.
They seem to have it all pretty sussed out and they’re certainly one to seek a few pointers from!