Buffer vs. Sprout Social: Which One Should You Go With?

Buffer vs. Sprout Social: Which One Should You Go With?

Buffer vs. Sprout Social

Overview

It still does a decent job at brings multiple social media platforms, accounts, and pages together so marketers can manage them all from the tool without using each native platform.

Buffer has a streamlined user interface that is so easy to master that it takes no time at all for users to learn and wield it like pros. The simple yet powerful dashboard is one of the main USPs of the tool.

Buffer is one of the social media marketing tools that are considered to be affordable for small businesses. Despite that, it integrates all the major social platforms and then some. The list includes Facebook, Google Business Profile, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest, Shopify, and Mastodon.

Buffer has more than adequate content management capabilities, like creating and scheduling to be automatically published on several social channels. They can as easily reschedule or edit their pre-planned posts before publishing. Start page maker is a unique feature of Buffer that lets users create landing pages to showcase their businesses without the hassle of having to make a whole website.

It comes with highly effective scheduling and publishing capabilities, along with advanced analytics and team workflow functionalities to make social media management a breeze for businesses and agencies.

Sprout Social is best known for its strong social listening and monitoring feature. Its competitor analysis abilities also take it ahead in the race from its alternatives.

Sprout Social also supports some of the major social media channels, allowing users to connect multiple accounts to it and manage them from a single dashboard. These include Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Best Suitable for

Buffer

Buffer

Start with $60

Freelancer, Small Business, Agency

SproutSocial

SproutSocial

Start with $249

Small Business, Enterprise, Agencies

SocialPilot

SocialPilot

Start with $30

SMBs, Agencies, Multi-Location Brands

At a Glance

Firstly, Buffer and Sprout Social must be analyzed according to the user experience they provide to their clientele. Whether they are easy to get started with and the sort of customer assistance they give. Users themselves have rated both tools, and we have drawn results accordingly.

To begin with, the overall ratings received by Buffer and Sprout Social are equal, which is surprising because they are different in many aspects, such as their price range and the customers they have because of that.

However, Buffer is ahead of Sprout Social by a slight margin in the ease of setup and ease of usage. But the case is reversed regarding the quality of customer support. Here, Sprout Social is marginally better rated than Buffer.

So, it is quite clear that when Buffer vs. Sprout Social are compared based on user ratings, they are almost similarly liked and preferred by their audience. Here are all the exact scores both tools got, and along with them are the scores of SocialPilot so that an effective comparison can be made.

Buffer

Buffer

SproutSocial

SproutSocial

SocialPilot

SocialPilot

Number of Reviews 962 2131 741
Overall Star Rating
Ease of Use
Quality of Support
Ease of Setup
Learn More Learn More 14 Days Trial

Quick Comparison

Here, we’ll compare both tools with respect to all the primary features and qualities that are asked of a social media marketing tool. These factors can’t be missed when classifying the perfect tool for a marketer’s needs.

Buffer is recognized in the market as an affordable social media tool that can be customized according to the client’s needs. Compared to Buffer, Sprout Social is quite costly, and its agency-level plan charges more than four times as much as the former tool. However, where Buffer allows an unlimited number of team members to work from the same profile, SproutSocial only grants access to a single user. To add team members, one has to pay surcharges per head.

Buffer excludes YouTube, which is a big disadvantage when it comes to social platform integrations. Other Buffer alternatives, including Sprout Social, do provide YouTube scheduling. But it lacks Google Business Profile, which is a noticeable gap in its capabilities as businesses need to have a good presence on this platform. Not having this puts Sprout Social behind.

Note: White-label solutions are one of the most important features for social media management tools to have. This helps them provide an optimally branded experience and, in the case of agencies, give the same experience to their clients. Surprisingly, Buffer nor Sprout Social has this capability. However, you can go to SocialPilot, an equally competent social media management tool, to access white-label solutions and much more. And it costs way lesser than Sprout Social.

Here are all the essential features of Buffer vs. Sprout Social, compared side by side with SocialPilot for a frame of reference.

Buffer

Buffer

SproutSocial

SproutSocial

SocialPilot

SocialPilot

Can't Miss to Compare
Minimum Pricing $60/Month $249/Month $30/Month
Number of Accounts 10 5 10
Number of Team Members 1 1 2
Number of Posts that Can Be Scheduled 2000 Unlimited Unlimited
Core Capabilities
Scheduling & Publishing check check check
Analytics check check check
Inbox check check check
Collaboration check check check
Competitor Tracking check check check
Whitelabel check check check
Localization English & Spanish English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish German, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Support FAQs, How-To-Guides, Video Tutorials, Social Media Support & Email Support Priority Email & Chat Support Email, Chat, Social Media, Phone
Learn More Learn More 14 Days Trial

Reviews

Positive

  • Buffer is known for its highly helpful customer support team, who are both quick and responsive in addressing users' inquiries and concerns.
  • It offers a powerful, interactive platform that brings all the necessary features for running successful campaigns in the fast-paced world of social media, all in one centralized location.
  • Buffer provides a simple and effective solution for social media collaboration, allowing teams to manage multiple clients' accounts with ease, streamlining their workflow and maximizing productivity.

Negative

  • A feature lacking in Buffer is a quick chat support option, which would be helpful for users seeking immediate assistance with an issue and were unable to find the answer in the help center.
  • Buffer lacks aesthetic appearance, as its whole interface is very monochromatic. Some basic design changes and perhaps a dash of color is needed to make the user experience better.
  • The lack of assistance in handling social media conversations in Buffer could hinder its effectiveness as a complete social media management solution.

Positive

  • Sprout Social's "Optimal Times" feature offers a guide for scheduling posts. It provides five options for the best time of day to post and rates them from 1-5, enabling the user to make an informed decision while still retaining flexibility in their scheduling.
  • You can streamline social media conversations with Sprout Social's unified message inbox, allowing you to view and respond to messages from multiple networks and searches all in one convenient place.
  • Sprout Social offers insights on the top-performing posts, including information on the best posting times, the impact of photos versus videos, and other relevant data.

Negative

  • Users have reported frustration with team conversations on posts waiting for approval, as they tend to disappear when edits are made on the post. It makes it challenging to keep track of the conversation and ensure that all team members are on the same page.
  • The overwhelming amount of reports can be difficult to navigate, making it challenging to extract the desired information. The large volume of data available is a plus, but the lack of streamlined reporting can make the process time-consuming and overwhelming.
  • The lack of customization options for social media messages across multiple channels can frustrate users. The current system for replying to comments within the app is seen as inadequate, causing a hindrance to efficient engagement with followers.

Positive

  • You get a social media calendar screen in SocialPilot, which gives a bird-eye view of all the scheduled content as well as create and schedule new content from. You can also change the publishing time and date of any queued posts right from the calendar and reschedule it.
  • You can upload and schedule up to 500 posts at once using SocialPilot through its handy bulk import feature. These can be link posts, text, or even image posts to any of the platforms which SocialPilot supports.
  • Users get to see how each and every post would look on the social platform it is meant for even before it is published. The newly designed SocialPilot dashboard generates a preview of the post with all the content and customizations, before scheduling it. This gives insights as to how the customer would see the post content.

Negative

  • Some users have reported receiving error messages with scheduled posts. However, they acknowledge that this issue is not unique to SocialPilot and is also present in other social posting platforms. It is simply a minor inconvenience at times.
  • SocialPilot does not have a color coding feature which simplifies the interface and makes it easier to navigate.SocialPilot does not have a color coding feature which simplifies the interface and makes it easier to navigate.
  • SocialPilot does not have a free version available, leaving users with only a 14-day free trial option to test the app. The free trial can be accessed without the need for a credit card, making it a risk-free opportunity for those who want to explore the features and capabilities of the app before making a purchase.

Pricing

Under this section, we will dissect the paid subscription plans of both the tools in question, Sprout Social vs. Buffer, to see who offers a better deal to their customers.

Both tools have four plans. Buffer offers a free plan with nominal features for starters. In contrast, Sprout Social’s price for the starting pack costs a whopping $249. But we will discuss the most popular and subscribed plans for both tools.

Buffer’s Agency plan is its highest-priced, at $120 monthly. This plan grants the user to connect ten social accounts to the tool and access to an unlimited number of team members to work together. To add more than ten social accounts, the user has to pay $6 per account.

To talk about Sprout Social’s agency-level plan, called the Advanced plan, costs way more than Buffer. At the rate of $499 per month, the tool gives access to only a single user, and for each extra user the account owner adds, they are charged an additional $349 per month. However, there is no limit to the number of social accounts the account owner can connect to the tool.

When comparing pricing against usage, Buffer gives a more feasible deal than Sprout Social as the latter charges an unreasonably high amount for each extra user. In contrast, Buffer costs a minimal surcharge to add an extra social account.

Here are all the pricing plans Sprout Social vs. Buffer listed for you to compare effectively, along with SocialPilot. It is a cost-effective tool and a very good alternative to Sprout Social.

Buffer

Buffer

SproutSocial

SproutSocial

SocialPilot

SocialPilot

Free
Standard
$249/per month
Professional
$30/per month
Essential
$6/per channel
Professional
$399/per month
Small Team
$50/per month
Team
$12/per channel
Advanced
$499/per month
Agency
$100/per month
Agency
$120/per channel
Enterprise
Custom
Agency+
$200/per month
14 Days Free Trial
No Credit Card Required
30 Days Free Trial
No Credit Card Required
14 Days Free Trial
No Credit Card Required
Learn More Learn More Start Your free Trial

In-depth Scheduling and Publishing Capabilities Comparison

Content scheduling is the first capability that comes to mind when thinking about social media marketing tools. And this sometimes is the sole reason for marketers to subscribe to such tools, with other features coming as added perks. So let’s see how the contenders are faring regarding scheduling and publishing abilities.

Buffer and Sprout Social are quite capable in their basic content scheduling and publishing features, such as setting up advanced posting queues, visual content support, platform-specific customization, personalized posting on multiple platforms, cloud storage, bulk scheduling, and in-app integrations. They even have browser extensions that let users schedule posts in a matter of minutes.

However, let us talk about the differences in their capabilities in scheduling. Let us address some of them.

Buffer’s advanced Facebook scheduling features are somewhat limited as it does not let users schedule Facebook reels, carousel posts, and first comments with posts from it. Audience targeting and boost posting, which are pretty important features for Facebook marketing tools, are also absent in Buffer. Sprout Social, on the other hand, fills all of these gaps.

Note: SocialPilot is a very effective social media tool with expertise in Facebook scheduling, unlike Buffer. It seamlessly schedules all forms of content, be it text, multiple images, carousel posts, or even first comments, along with their respective posts. It can also target audiences for specific posts and schedule boosted posts. Even though Sprout Social also does these things, SocialPilot charges a fraction of what the former tool does. This makes it a great Buffer alternative as both tools are in the same price range.

Regarding Instagram, Buffer does not support story scheduling, and Sprout Social does not have reel scheduling capability. There are many more differences in the scheduling features of the tools being compared. Here are all of them listed, Sprout Social vs. Buffer, and alongside is SocialPilot for added reference.

Buffer

Buffer

SproutSocial

SproutSocial

SocialPilot

SocialPilot

Smart & Advanced Queueing check check check
Customize Post for Each Platform check check check
Post Preview check check check
Canva Integration check check check
Unsplash Integration check check check
Slack Integration check check check
URL Shortener check check check
Visual Post Support (Image, Video, GIF) check check check
UTM Parameters check check check
Cloud Storage check check check
Hashtag Suggestions check check check
Advance Publishing Capabilities
Save Draft Posts check check check
AI Assistant check check check
Watermark on Images check check check
Bulk Scheduling check check check
Content Curation check check check
Auto publishing from RSS check check check
Social media calendar check check check
Mobile App check check check
Browser Extension check check check
Advance Facebook Publishing Capabilities
Reel Scheduling check check check
Support Album Posts check check check
Support Carousel Posts check check check
Alternate Text on Image check check check
Support Facebook First Comment check check check
Audience Targeting check check check
Boost Post Scheduling check check check
Support Mention and Hashtags check check check
Advance Twitter Publishing Capabilities
Location Tagging check check check
Support Mention and Hashtags check check check
Support Multiple Image Posts check check check
Threads Scheduling check check check
Advance Instagram Publishing Capabilities
Reel Scheduling check check check
Story Scheduling check check check
Tag Profiles on Images check check check
Location Tagging check check check
Support Instagram First Comment check check check
Instagram Grid check check check
Advance LinkedIn Publishing Capabilities
Audience Targeting check check check
Support LinkedIn First Comment check check check
Advance YouTube Publishing Capabilities
#shorts Scheduling check check check
Mention of Other Youtube Accounts check check check
Learn More Learn More 14 Days Trial

In-depth Analytics Capability Comparison

Analytics are roadmaps for marketers to monitor where their strategies are taking their social media presence and whether they need to recalibrate. So we have gone through all the significant analytical capabilities, Buffer vs. Sprout Social.

Both tools offer insightful metrics if we go by page and then content performance. Be it image posts, reels, stories, or the multiple business pages the user has connected to the tools, they cover them all.

Both Buffer and Sprout Social generate reports in PDF formats, which the users can download to utilize or send to relevant stakeholders. However, these reports can’t be directly emailed to others or scheduled to be sent from Buffer as opposed to Sprout Social, which can automate the sending of reports.

Here is a tabular representation of all the analytical features, Sprout Social vs. Buffer, side by side with SocialPilot for better understanding.

Buffer

Buffer

SproutSocial

SproutSocial

SocialPilot

SocialPilot

Whitelabel Downloadable Report in PDF Format check check check
Email PDF Report to Client check check check
Auto Schedule Report with Team and Client check check check
Custom Report Builder check check check
Learn More Learn More 14 Days Trial

In-depth Inbox/Listening Capability Comparison

Social listening and inboxing are very important when it comes to managing a brand’s online reputation or establishing oneself as a customer-centric business. So it’s important to shuffle through these features while comparing Buffer vs. Sprout Social.

Where social listening in Buffer is absent, it’s one of the strongest capabilities of Sprout Social. On Buffer, users can only reply to Facebook and Instagram comments, but on Sprout Social, one can track keywords and mentions as well as monitor messages left on one’s social pages.

The real-time listening capabilities in Sprout Social are so efficient that it can monitor all the major social networks and online forums for the terms the users have set up to be monitored. This makes the tool a formidable competitor to other Sprout Social alternatives.

Buffer

Buffer

SproutSocial

SproutSocial

SocialPilot

SocialPilot

Can Reply Message check check check
Can Reply Questions and Reviews check check check
Can Reply on Visitor Posts check check check
Real-Time Social Listening check check check
Learn More Learn More 14 Days Trial

In-depth Social Media Collaboration Capability Comparison

When the social media side of a business is being managed, the involvement of a team with different roles is a given. So the social media tool they use should be equipped to handle multiple users and have appropriate team workflows to avoid confusion and make their jobs easier.

And when compared, Buffer and Sprout Social have perfect team collaboration capabilities, distinctive roles for members, permission-based access, and collaboration abilities for content creation.

But an important point worth mentioning is that in Buffer’s agency plan, an unlimited number of users and clients can be onboarded to work together, and although the same is true for Sprout Social, it charges high rates for each user one adds.

Here are all the team and client collaboration capabilities users get with both the tools, Buffer vs. Sprout Social. SocialPilot has been included for a better frame of reference.

Buffer

Buffer

SproutSocial

SproutSocial

SocialPilot

SocialPilot

Free Unlimited Client Onboarding check check check
Per Post Multi-User Collaboration check check check
Access Management check check check
Content Approval Workflow check check check
Learn More Learn More 14 Days Trial

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Buffer better than Sprout Social?

When it comes to capabilities, Sprout Social has much more to boast about than Buffer. It allows an unlimited number of social accounts to be connected and supports all the major social platforms, including YouTube, which Buffer lacks. Also, Sprout Social has excellent social listening features, which Buffer can't compare to. Regarding scheduling and publishing options, Sprout Social provides more platform-specific customizations. However, Buffer is a more affordable tool than Sprout Social.

What's better than Sprout Social?

Sprout Social is an excellent social media management tool, but it is at a higher pricing point. Here are some of the most effective Sprout Social alternatives:

  • SocialPilot
  • Agorapulse
  • Later
  • Sendible
  • Zoho Social

What is better than Buffer?

Buffer is a great social media marketing tool for startup businesses and agencies at very affordable pricing. Here are some equally capable tools as Buffer alternatives:

  • SocialPilot
  • Loomly
  • Later
  • Hootsuite
  • Sendible

What is the downside of Sprout Social?

The biggest downside of Sprout Social is that it has extravagantly high prices. Its starting plan costs $249, which is higher than some of Sprout Social's alternative agency-level plans like SocialPilot. Also, it costs more than half the actual plan's charges to add only one user to a profile which is applicable to all of its subscriptions. This deal is unaffordable for medium and smaller businesses.

Is Buffer a good social media tool?

Buffer is an affordable choice when it comes to competent social media management tools. It is perfect for small agencies and startup businesses as it allows access to the main user to onboard an unlimited number of team members. Also, it supports all the major social platforms and new and emerging channels like Mastodon.

About the Author

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Jimit Bagadiya

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