Is Buffer suitable for agencies?

Whilst Buffer was not built for agencies specifically, we have many who are using our tools and finding them to be a great fit for their needs. Buffer tends to work best for smaller agencies with a few clients, rather than larger agencies with many clients. Through this guide, we aim to provide an impartial view of when Buffer might be a good fit, and also when it might not.

There are a few deciding factors to consider, which include whether or not you need to have client approvals, how many Instagram accounts you need to connect, and our current limitations with campaign creation and team visibility. Buffer’s tools could still be a great choice for you once you consider these factors, which are explained within this article.

Plans and pricing

Agencies tend to have the need to connect more channels, analyze more metrics, and create more reports than other customers. We recommend the following plans:

Buffer Publish (our publishing tool)

  • Small Business plan ($99/month): 25 channels, 6 users
  • Medium Business plan ($199/month): 50 channels, 11 users
  • Large Business plan ($399/month): 150 channels, 26 users

Buffer Analyze (our analytics tool)

  • Pro ($35/month)
  • Premium ($50/month)

What counts as a channel? A channel is each individual page, group, or profile that you’d like to connect. As an example, you might be scheduling posts for 10 clients who each have five social channels (e.g. Facebook Page, Instagram account, Twitter profile, LinkedIn Page, and Pinterest profile). This would come to 50 channels in total, in which case the Medium Publish Business plan would be the best fit.

What counts as a user? When thinking about which plans might work best for you, it’s important to consider whether or not you’ll be inviting your clients to have access to Buffer’s tools. If you choose to invite your clients, they would have the ability to see the content you’re scheduling for them as well as add their own posts, but only for their own social channels. These clients would also see analytics for their own channels. Your clients may have additional abilities within Buffer’s tools, depending on the permissions you grant them (explained below).

Each client you invite will require a user seat on your plan, and therefore you will need to choose a plan that has space to support yourself, any internal members of staff who are scheduling content for your clients, as well as the clients themselves.

Key considerations

Connecting your clients' channels

You (the account owner), or a user with Admin access, will need to connect your clients' social channels. It is not possible to invite clients to connect their own channels, without also giving them access to your other clients' channels.

Due to the lack of Admin capabilities on most social networks, you will need to have the client's log in details in order to connect the channel to Publish. For Facebook Pages and LinkedIn Pages, you can authenticate it through your own personal profile, assuming you have the required Admin permissions. The table below outlines what you'll need in order to connect each type of channel on behalf of a client.

Facebook Page Your personal Facebook profile must be an admin on the Facebook Page. Learn more here.
Facebook group Your personal Facebook profile will need to be an admin on the group. Learn more here.
Instagram business account Client’s login details (username and password) for Instagram, as well as being an admin on the Facebook Page that is connected to the Instagram account. 
Twitter profile Client’s login details (username and password).
LinkedIn Page Your personal LinkedIn profile will need to have Super Admin access to the page. Learn more here.
LinkedIn profile Client’s login details (username and password).
Pinterest board Client’s login details (username and password).

When it comes to connecting multiple Instagram accounts, we do not recommend managing more than 5 Instagram accounts in total and we also recommend each Instagram account be connected to an authentic, active Facebook page. There are several considerations and reasons for these recommendations, which you can read in our Instagram best practices.

Permission levels and access within each of Buffer’s tools

You’ll find more information about how to set up users and the types of permissions they have within each tool in this guide. Here’s a quick breakdown of the permissions you can grant.

Tool Admin Access Full posting access (channel specific) Approval required access (channel specific)
Account settings
  • Connect and manage social channels
  • Invite and manage users
  • Manage subscription and billing (account owner only)
  • Read-only access to channels area
  • Read-only access to channels area
Publishing
  • Dependent on permissions level (Full Posting or Approval Required access)
  • Create posts
  • Approve draft posts from other team members
  • Create draft posts
Analytics
  • Viewing metrics is available assuming Admin has been granted channel access (either Full Posting or Approval Required access)
  • Create custom reports
  • View campaigns
  • View metrics
  • View metrics

We do not have a separate type of user or permission level specifically for clients, but this can work by setting them up with Full Posting Access.

You have complete control over which social channels each user has access to. This is great if you have certain users looking after certain clients; you would only give them access to the clients' channels that they’re taking care of. And if you’re inviting your clients, you would only give them access to their own channels.

For each social channel you give a user access to, you can choose between the following permissions levels:

  • Approval Required Access: User is able to create posts in the drafts area and then request approval.
  • Full Posting Access: User is able to create posts directly in the queue, without the need for approval. They’re also able to approve posts created by users with Approval Required Access.

If posts need approval from clients, you would need to set your internal members of staff up with Approval Required Access and your clients with Full Posting Access. The flow then would be for your members of staff to create posts within the drafts area and then request approval. The client would then be able to review, edit and approve those posts, at which point they’ll be moved to the queue, ready to be published according to the posting schedule. Learn more about the drafts and approvals process here.

📝 Please note, the account owner will always have Full Posting Access on all channels and this cannot be changed. This means that if the account owner will be creating posts for clients, they will be added directly to the queue, without the need for approval. In this case, you might wish to invite yourself as a user under a different email address with Approval Required Access. With this solution, you would need to login under your owner account to connect new channels, manage users and customize posting schedules. You’d then need to login to your other user account to create posts.

Other factors to consider include:

  • If your internal members of staff have Approval Required Access, all posts they add will need to be approved by the client. It is not possible to pick and choose which posts require approval. This can be a drawback for some agencies, who need the flexibility of requesting approval on some posts but not on others.
  • If your internal members of staff have Approval Required Access, they won’t have the ability to customize the posting schedule, modify any posts in the queue, rearrange the order in which they’ll be sent, or configure custom publishing times for posts that are already scheduled. These actions would either need to be completed by the client (since they’ll have Full Posting Access) or the account owner.

Creating reports within the analytics dashboard

Our custom reports feature allows you to create reports with data from multiple channels. Since team members may not have permissions to all channels, we have chosen to make this feature available only to admins at this time. Non-admin users will not be able to view or create custom reports.

Campaigns within an organization

Only organization account owners and users with Full Posting Access can create campaigns. in the publishing dashboard. Within the analytics dashboard, only admins can view the metrics from campaigns.

Additionally, there are some important access considerations and limitations to note when using campaigns.

Campaigns in the publishing dashboard

At this time, all users within an organization are able to view all campaigns, including all posts belonging to those campaigns, regardless of whether or not they have access to the social channel a post belongs to. Let’s say you have six channels connected to Buffer — three belonging to one client, and three belonging to another. Both clients (assuming they’ve been invited to your Buffer organization) would be able to see all campaigns, and all posts belonging to those campaigns, even if some of those posts are scheduled for the other clients channels. However, they will not be able to click on the channel avatar and will not be able to access the queue for that channel.

Only the account owner and users with Full Posting Access are able to add posts to campaigns. This means there are some extra steps for approvers if posts are being added from other users. If you wanted to approve a draft post from a user with Approval Required Access that you’d like to add to a campaign, you would first need to approve the post, and then edit it from the queue and select a campaign.

In summary, while Buffer’s current set up isn’t specifically designed for agencies, some have chosen to use our tools to support their social media strategies. We hope that this guide has helped explain the limitations, along with the benefits, so that you can make an informed decision.

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