Earlier this summer, I was privy to attend an event hosted by Wildfire Interactive (@wildfireapp) where they announced a brand new program (video of presentation) designed to help companies make their efforts more social. From what I’ve seen so far, the company has become a huge beacon helping to guide agencies and brands from the clueless fog of social media into the clearing where they’re able to develop sound marketing strategy. This new program that was announced consists of something more than just a Facebook application program that Wildfire Interactive was long known for – in fact, they now include a Social Marketing Suite that they hope will enable marketers to “grow, engage and monetize customers via social media.“
Handling over 100,000 social media promotions, Wildfire already has become what many consider to be the industry’s most successful social marketing software with their promotion builder program. But now with the Social Marketing Suite, the hope is that marketers will be able to execute programs on a much larger scale. No more developing sweepstakes, coupons or contests. Instead, kick it up a notch and build and manage engaging Facebook campaigns. Yes, that’s right…campaigns not pages or one-off assets for your company. The true success of a social media campaign has got to be viability and engagement and simply allowing your company to create a Facebook with no idea on how to scale it causes you to fail.
Wait, setting up a Facebook page isn’t enough?
No, unfortunately just simply going on Facebook and creating a page with just some basic information and posting some content on the Wall isn’t going to constitute a campaign…at least not anymore. More engagement is needed, whether it’s through some sort of game on your page or other dynamic content, people are looking for that next thing that separates your page from others. What on your Facebook page separates it from your competitors? If you’re not Coca-Cola, Disney, Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga, or major brand name, odds are that the number of people who like your page isn’t going to be in the millions nor are you going to have a convincing argument why they should come back to visit your site. Your constant updates to your Facebook Wall only goes so far. The standard look is now too antiquated. We must look forward to separate our brand from our competitors.
Focusing your social media campaigns using individual tools are too decentralized for any value
Now this might seem a bit combative, but when I made the above statement, that was merely meant to highlight that just by running a Twitter campaign for one promotion and a YouTube for another, you could be limiting the maximum impact it could have. If you take a look at some successful campaigns like the Old Spice guy, it didn’t just leverage one social network, but multiple services – specifically, Twitter and YouTube. Even new movies are being announced and promoted through services like Twitter, Facebook. YouTube and many others. Brands like Starbucks have gotten into a fully integrated social media campaign using Foursquare, Twitter, and Facebook. The point is that you can’t just think about a silo’ed approach…plan to scale and measure your results.
In fact, one might wonder if there’s a way to simply manage this? The answer is “yes”…and here’s how:
An easy-to-use, but powerful tool that any marketer can use to promote
Social media is one of the most effective ways brands can engage with consumers, but it can often be confusing, difficult and hard to measure.
This quote came from Wildfire Interactive’s CEO, Victoria Ransom. And this problem is something that the company is trying to help brands and agencies overcome. Most companies are interested in a great high-powered tool, but for the cost that a small business would pay for. And that seems to be what Wildfire has created with their new Social Marketing Suite. This product looks to be a comprehensive tool that allows marketers to simply create a communication strategy around a given promotion. While you might think that this suite of tools is designed to help any company create a Facebook page, this does a bit more than that. In fact, according to Wildfire Interactive, you’ll be able to have control over the following:
- Promotion Builder
- Page Manager
Now that might not look like much, but from what I can see, it looks like you’re going to be given a bigger piece of the pie to help control how engaging your social marketing is. So let’s dissect what lengths of control marketers will be able to get now:
Promotion Builder: judging from what I’ve seen, Wildfire has done a phenomenal job with helping to build results-driven promotions for brands and customers. According to them, they say that promotions are the “#1 reason that people become fans or followers of brands” and with this new tool, marketers will be able to create things like sweepstakes, contests, coupons, giveaways, group deals, and a slew of other types of formats.
Page Manager: just like a content management system (CMS), Wildfire’s suite offers marketers control over what’s on the Facebook page and other social pages. Don’t just rely on the template that Facebook gives you. Make your own “beautiful custom-looking fan page” using their tool and just like a CMS, marketers will be able to do that easily without any troubles. And for the advanced users, you can even build your own custom templates using their design toolkit so marketers will truly make their social marketing match their brand, NOT Facebook’s.
Messenger: now this is probably an essential part of the social marketing puzzle…how can administrators keep track and respond to fan comments and feedback? Sure, you can tie things back into your customer relationship management tool like Salesforce, but what if you’re not able of having that large of a CRM platform? Well Wildfire has integrated a small component of it with their messenger system. Marketers and brands are now able to keep track of what is being said about them and quickly and easily respond. Of course there are additional features like scheduled responses and you can manage the messaging across multiple pages. But one has to wonder about the back-end of this system…how does it keep track of everything like you would expect from a service like Salesforce? Is there a CoTweet-like mechanism that will allow different admins to respond with a personalized voice? And is there tracking? It is interesting to see how this can be used by community managers. It is definitely a helpful tool and I think it should scale to be a much bigger part of the social marketing suite in the future.
Dashboard: Tracking of activity is always important for a marketer’s bottom line. After all, the one thing that your boss will probably ask you before you begin this endeavor is “what’s the return on investment?” Am I right? And let’s face it, the metric reporting that Facebook offers currently is a bit basic and not that detailed…but I’m sure that one day they’ll evolve the reporting mechanism and blow everyone out of the water. However, until that happens, with Wildfire’s dashboard, users will be able to track viral spread and performance of their promotions and offers a benchmark for brand performance versus their competitors using data from a library consisting of over 30 million Facebook and Twitter pages.
The bottom line
When it’s all said and done, it looks like the Social Marketing Suite offered by Wildfire Interactive is a good starting point for those brands that want to evolve their Facebook marketing. Until brands start to leverage their own websites as the hub for social marketing, it will probably be Facebook as the de facto place where all of these types of engagements will take place. All Twitter promotions, emails and other marketing tactics will lead people to the brand’s page because once you’ve “liked” it or entered into a promotion, sweepstakes, or contest, the platform will prompt you to share with your social graph. And that is the new Word of Mouth campaign that everyone is talking about. But you must make your promotions and campaigns provocative, interesting, and worth coming back to engage with. And that is what Wildfire’s suite of tools is designed to help you do. Make your life easier and try out their suite. Your social marketing campaign will “like” you for it.
Bonus: After Wildfire’s announcement this past summer about their new product suite, Victoria Ransom, CEO of Wildfire Interactive, allowed me to interview her about its utility:
Photo credit: lecates / Flickr.com