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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Thu, 06 Mar 2014

Buffer's Awesome plan makes it way more usable, but I'm not in a position to part with $102 right now

I have tweeted a bunch and written some, too, about Buffer, the web and mobile app that allows you to space out your social posts and reposts and have them released at specific times during the day.

Having Buffer "baked in" as a browser extension is a killer feature.

As a user, my company has gone all in for Buffer. We are a subscriber. A business can part with much more than the that the Awesome Plan costs for a year. a year is something most businesses scrape off the bottom of their boots on a slightly wet morning.

For businesses that need lots of team members and lots of social accounts, there are higher-priced plans for that. It positions Buffer as a business-to-business play, not a consumer one. These days, consumer services are usually free to use, with revenue coming from advertising.

Buffer probably made the right choice when it comes to making money.

The Buffer team is proud of how early in their startup's life they started bringing in revenue. I think that's great. They offer a compelling service that businesses need. And especially at the Awesome Plan level, they are not charging an arm and a leg for it. I can't see it being anything but a success.

I understand that not everything can be free. But you need something free to get new users in the door, to get them to try the service so they can see if and how much they need what it provides.

And to that end, there is a free level for Buffer. I'm using it right now.

That free tier limits the number of social accounts you can hook up, which is one of each type (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.

So far, so good. I'm only interested in hooking up a single Twitter feed.

But here's the catch: The free level also limits the number of posts you can have in your Buffer at any given time.

That limit is 10.

For personal Twitter posts, that's fine. I rarely tweet more than 10 times a day. But I probably retweet 25 to 50 things a day. I can fill that Buffer in about 10 minutes.

I like Buffer enough that I would pay for it.

But .50 a month, or a year is not something I can justify right now. The service is great. I really like it. But after paying for cell phone, home broadband, shared hosting and things like electricity, food and rent, I just can't do it.

I wish Buffer all the success in the world, and I think they're going to get it.

So how much would I be comfortable paying for Buffer as an individual? For a single social account and a 100-post Buffer limit, I'd pay a year.

Maybe there are enough entities now willing to part with per year that would have all they need in my Less Awesome plan that Buffer's revenue would drop 80 percent immediately.

Or maybe a buy-in would bring in so many more paying customers that revenue would be the same or higher.

It's hard to know what would really happen with a Less Awesome plan. And I'm not running Buffer, the company. I'm just a new user.

I'm glad I was introduced to Buffer. For about a week, I had my blog updating via [If This Then That] to Buffer. But I went back to dlvr.it to "save" my Buffer spots for retweets. I'm still using Buffer to space out those retweets (until it fills up). Using Buffer this way, I'm not annoying my followers with a flurry of RTs in a row. That's definitely a problem, and Buffer is certainly a compelling solution.

So for me, Buffer solves my over-retweeting problem better than anything, but as a non-wealthy individual, I just can't part with for it. That's grocery money.

For companies that don't want to do this same thing via Tweetdeck or HootSuite, Buffer is a slam dunk. Free, ad-supported services to consumers don't really work unless they are Facebook-huge. I just wish there was some middle (OK, lower) ground for individuals.

First aside: Buffer seems like a great company to work for. Employee-wise, they've stolen the Automattic playbook and added a layer of transparency, especially regarding salaries. Refreshing doesn't begin to describe how much I like that.

Second aside: the one red flag I see in Buffer's future is Twitter adding its own Buffer-like functionality and allowing users to time posts in the future without an additional app/service like Buffer.