This may come as quite a shock to the users of Buffer.com, but the popular social media management tool that you know so well, is nothing short of a large scale scam. In this post, we’ll go over Buffer’s long history of unethical business practices, their practically fraudulent pricing, their poor treatment of customers and finally discuss alternatives.
Let’s start with a couple of facts:
- Anyone can buy a VPS (virtual private server). $5/month can get you a very decent server and around 1 Terrabyte bandwidth per month. (Buffer itself uses these)
- Let’s say that you’re using Buffer’s $10/month plan. That entitles you to 100 scheduled posts and 10 social accounts. Now, you can write down 100 posts and buffer will post them to the social networks automatically. Let’s conservatively estimate that an average post of yours is around 5 Megabytes (This includes around 200 characters of text and a couple high quality images per post)
If you do the math, on Buffer you’re paying $10/month for 5x10x100 Mb or 5 Gb of data transfer. So, you’re paying Buffer $10 for 5Gb and Buffer is paying 5$ for 1000 Gb on a custom server. That is a 2000% profit margin. Not to mention that Buffer can easily handle nearly 200 paying users on a 5$ server. And this is an extremely conservative estimate. This is Buffer’s cheapest plan, it only gets worse from here.
Now, not everyone can run a custom server and Buffer knows that. So, they can charge whatever they want because users have no other option. This is essentially how monopolies operate. But as we’ll see, user now have an alternative. Read on.
2. “Free” plan
Buffer’s pricing would make sense if they actually offered unique functionality and their fee was in line with their operating costs. As we saw above, Buffer’s greed is clearly visible. But the above facts tell us one more thing. Buffer can easily afford to offer a lot more generous free plan. They simply choose not to, to squeeze more money out of their customers.
Are you a content writer? An indie app developer? An online marketer? There is no kind of user that can be satisfied with Buffer’s free plan, which pushes them to pay up. The free plan includes just 10 scheduled posts. This is simply insulting. Do you really have time to manage your social outlets in such a tedious manner? Buffer clearly does not respect you, unless you pay.
3. Violation of privacy
“Buffer may sell, transfer or otherwise share some or all of its assets, including your personally identifiable information.” “We engage certain trusted third parties to perform functions and provide services to us… We will share your personally identifiable information with these third parties”
That’s right. As if their unfair pricing wasn’t enough, they actually sell all your “personally identifiable information” to third parties to make even more money. The above snippet was hidden away inside a long and arduous legal document.
And you can bet that they didn’t put the above disclaimer in their policy out of the goodness of their hearts, to inform users. They are simply covering their asses, so users cannot sue them. The perfect crime.
By continuing to use Buffer, you’re effectively supporting these unethical practices and encouraging pure corporate greed.
But all is not lost, there are other free and open alternatives out there that provide exactly the same functionality as Buffer, but since Buffer’s marketing budget drowns out all competitors, you never hear about these alternatives.
AlphaPost is one such alternative. It is currently in beta, available on android here. AlphaPost will forever be free and without ads or in-app-purchases. On top of that, it provides all the functionalities found in paid alternatives such as Buffer or HootSuite. Give it a go. Seriously.