Lately I’ve been thinking about changing my approach to how I handle my time on Twitter. While I still love writing on this weblog (and will continue to do so), there are occasional small bite-sized thoughts that I want to share that are under 140 characters.
In the past, I scoffed at third party services that tied into the Twitter API to allow you to do things like schedule Tweets in advance. It seemed like a strange thing to do, as I thought the brilliance of Twitter was spontaneity. The more I think about it now though, scheduling Tweets to be sent out later is no big deal. In fact, I have started to embrace that ideology and find that I enjoy using Twitter even more.
Buffer is a really slick webapp that allows you to re-gain control of your busy day by providing, what I like to think as a “scratch pad” for drafting Tweets. In my experience with it, its been fantastic.
Creating an account is quick, simple and free. You can even be up and running in a couple of minutes. Once you login, the only real work you need to do is add your Twitter account(s) and give authorization to Buffer.
The “My Buffer” section allows you to quickly compose a tweet and shorten any links that you have included. Of course, you can include your own pre-shortened links, or if you use something like bit.ly, you can add your API access key so that any click throughs you receive will be tracked through your bit.ly account.
If you are a newbie to Twitter or perhaps you are experiencing writers block, you can use Buffer’s “Suggest me a Tweet” button to Tweet out something pre-written. I don’t know how popular that feature is, but I’m sure it will appeal to a small niche.
You can schedule your Tweets to go out at specific times during the day. With the free account, you are limited to a maximum of 5 different times during the day, but you can upgrade to a paid account starting at a measly $5 per month which lifts that restriction.
Once you start scheduling a few Tweets, you can go to the “Analytics” tab and check out the status of past sent Tweets, and view how many re-Tweets and people they reached. One thing I love in particular about this feature is that this is rendered using HTML and doesn’t rely on any sort of processor intensive plug-in (ahem Flash, yes you). I know perhaps not all will appreciate this, but I know as a picky Mac user that level of design thoughtfulness is extremely welcome.
The web interface is a very pleasant place to be with its mostly subtle grey and black hues. Although I love spending a lot of time there, the folks at Buffer offer up a Chrome and Safari extension which is handy if you land on a webpage with something interesting that you might want to share, but not necessarily Tweet that very second. With one click it will send that link to your Buffer for later scheduling. For those not into extensions, they also provide a simple bookmarklet which is just as serviceable.
Feature wishlist and feedback
Buffer is still a young app, however, it’s growing at a fastidious pace. There are a few things I’d love to see added to it though.
I’d love to see them add support for more URL shortening services other than just bit.ly. I primarily use Adjix, but adding support for CloudApp, Google, and a few others would be welcome as a well.
I’ve already been in touch with Joel Gascoigne on a number of occasions and he’s been super responsive to some of the feedback about the product that I provided. I’ll continue to use Buffer as a happy paid user and will keep tabs on its progress.
If you are a pretty busy person or even feel like you need a great way to compose and draft Tweets that you’d like to be spread out over the course of a day, I strongly recommend Bufferapp.