Social Sharing App Buffer Doubles Down On Its Premium Business Product With Google Analytics, Follower Tracking

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Buffer — the popular desktop/mobile app for sharing content across multiple social networks  that hit a major stumbling block it hit last autumn when it suffered a security breach — is stepping up its bid to compete against the likes of Hootsuite by taking the platform in a more premium direction.

Buffer for Business, a paid product it launched last month with service tiers priced between $50 and $250/month, is adding a bunch of new analytics features, including Google Analytics integration and follower growth tracking.

It’s not quite a pivot, but a “reposition and refocus” of the company for 2014, co-founder Leo Widrich tells us in an email. “We’ve doubled down on Buffer for Business…We’re super excited about the new direction for Buffer in 2014 and our change in vision.”

The Google Analytics integration, perhaps most importantly, will mean that those who already use Google Analytics to track other online traffic will now be able to monitor Buffer-based social media performance alongside other marketing campaigns and other activity. It will also give users the ability to create and track specific social campaigns within the tool.

Growth tracking, meanwhile, was a much-needed feature in Buffer for Business, which had already let users track performance of individual posts but not for accounts themselves. (Users would have had to use different apps to track follower growth.)

Buffer’s version of the tool will let you see how follower growth (or decline!) changes based on particular activity. The example Buffer gives is specifically related to Tweets on Twitter, although it integrates other social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and App.net on its platforms:

followers

Buffer also notes that you can drill down into daily activity to track follower growth:Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 10.44.22 AM

Other new business features include the ability now to look at activity across specific date ranges, and through that to see specifically what posts were made on a specific day and how well each of those performed. Users can then also export data from Buffer.

We’re trying to find out what the new features will mean longer term for Buffer’s basic app — which currently offers a free usage tier, and a slightly more flexible option for $10/month. For now, it’s still an option on the site.

In any case, it’s not too much of a surprise to hear about a shift in focus.

Incorporating analytics and other new features means that Buffer for Business generally becomes a more relevant tool for marketers and other enterprise users. And that makes it a more justifiable investment, considering that some users have complained that the cost of the Business product may be too high.

Plus there is the success factor. After just one month of life, Buffer for Business (which, by the way, is built with more security in it by default than the basic app) is already accounting for 23.9% of the startup’s monthly revenues of $234,000.

Note: Yes, Buffer gave us that number — part of the company’s bigger attempt to buck the trend and be significantly more transparent about how it is doing. That same motivation also led it to publish the salaries of employees in December. We “want to continue to be super open,” Widrich says.

Given that many other startups, including far bigger ones, are not exactly transparent on how much revenue they make, I couldn’t tell you if relatively speaking this is a strong, average or weak number.

To date, Buffer, which is based in San Francisco, has only disclosed some $400k in funding from a large group of angels since being founded in 2010.

Update: I’ve had some responses from Joel Gascoigne, the other co-founder and CEO, to questions about the fallout from the data breach and also the future of its freemium Buffer app:

On the basic Buffer product, this will “absolutely” remain. “We have no plans to sunset the Free or Awesome ($10/mo) products. We are going to continue to add more power to these products and also focus on how we can make them simpler for a broader audience to find useful,” he says. “Our highest focus is on Buffer for Business due to the fact it is a brand new product and our other products have had 3 years of work put into them. We want to move fast here to become fully established as the Business social media tool of choice for many.”

He says that the hack has been one of the reasons why the company has put the gas on accelerating development of the Business app. “A great benefit of us taking more focus on Buffer for Business is that many of the larger companies we are helping with social media will naturally demand a high level of security measures,” he says. He also notes that the impact of the hack has not been as bad as you would think. “We’ve been lucky that users have been very understanding and our growth rate has remained largely unaffected.” Some metrics related to the hack here.
Nevertheless there have been not nearly as many people moving to 2-step log in as you would think as a result. “Right now there are 3,523 people who have enabled 2-Step Login,” he tells me. That’s out of 165,000 active users of Buffer. (Buffer for Business meanwhile has 650 customers at the moment.)