A Growing Wildfire: the Trend Toward Streamlining Social Media Marketing

When it comes to hedging its bets, you might say that Google knows how to keep its portfolio balanced. After purchasing social media marketing agency Wildfire Interactive for $250 million in July, it has spent the last two months integrating the small company into the Google monolith.

Begun in 2008 with a grant from Facebook’s fbFund, Wildfire creates social media marketing campaigns for clients, streamlining these across platforms from Pinterest to Facebook to Twitter to Google+.

Google’s decision to purchase a company that encourages businesses to advertise on Facebook is telling of the integration still to come amongst these companies. Having a controlling hand in Facebook advertising could prove useful for Google as it continues to grow Google+ into a competing, viable platform. On the other hand, if Google+ were to go the way of the now defunct Google Buzz and Google Wave, the company still has a controlling arm in the development of social media marketing (and in a manner that actually draws a profit).

Social Media Aggregation: A Brief Roundup

Even if this post is the first you’ve heard of Wildfire, you may have already worked with clients who utilize a similar service. Earlier this year, Oracle scooped up Vitrue, while Salesforce grabbed BuddyMedia. These companies offer comprehensive marketing and data collection within an environment that’s growing incredibly fast. Their appeal is obvious. What company, of any size, can manage everything from Spotify to Twitter accounts, making sure that each stays healthy with regular posts, while keeping track of individual follower preferences? By consolidating social media outreach across multiple platforms and delivering streamlined data on the results to clients, Wildfire and their peers are at the forefront of the fastest growing marketing sector for at least the year to come.

These companies join other integrated social media marketing firms like PunchTab and Perkville that create digital loyalty programs, similar to the “Buy seven, get one free” cards used for years at restaurants. Outreach across social media outlets is synced in a user’s account, and businesses can track which platform their customers used most often to interact with them.

Newcomers like Wildfire take this to the next level, integrating an entire marketing scheme into a streamlined outreach across multiple platforms.

Why Wildfire Matters to Developers

Consolidated social media aggregation is likely here to stay. Wildfire already counts companies like Amazon, Sony, Verizon, Unilever, and Virgin among their clients. Beyond the obvious day-to-day time-saving benefits of handing over social media control to a qualified third party, social media marketing aggregators also have their finger on the pulse of what’s trending. For example, Wildfire recently posted (on Facebook) that posts mentioning “Back to School” were being “liked” 79 per cent less than other posts. That’s invaluable information to the Wal-Marts, Targets, and Macy’s of the world.

Because it offers a unified interface where clients can make their own tweets, posts, pins, etc from a unified dashboard (and Google’s ownership doesn’t hurt, either), Wildfire may be the one to watch. For developers, it’s relevant because of the opportunity for customized pages.

Just as with website and blog creation, developers will always be in competition with the DIY folks who are happy to use a template for their blog or website. Wildfire includes an extensive library of “prebuilt social campaign templates.” If a shoe store wants to market a new line of sneakers across all of their social media platforms, they could utilize Wildfire’s templates to create a campaign with a unified look and feel across their pages.

As simple as Wildfire makes that process, don’t expect your average business owner to be quick to the draw. There are so many social media platforms vying for usage that, for now at least, most businesses are intimidated at the thought of learning something new, even if it’s designed to bring all of their social media campaigns under the control of one dashboard.

For a developer, however, it’s a win-win. Wildfire’s templates offer full access to underlying CSS, as well as the option to upload a fully customized original template.

Company websites are becoming repositories for information, while actual interaction with customers and followers occurs via social media. For many modern sites, these feeds — be it Tumblr, Facebook, or Twitter — are embedded on the website, forming the interactive day-to-day content of the site itself.

Developers keen to the latest methods of streamlining this content have a stronger leg to stand on, especially when their clients say that they want to emphasize social media (and who doesn’t?). By learning to manage and customize campaigns via Wildfire (or BuddyMedia or Vitrue), a developer will have a powerful tool to offer clients and a leg up on the competition going into 2013.

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