Back in 2012 Google decided to start a partnership with Wildfire, a social software platform that was aimed to help businesses improve their social media marketing efforts. Of course this was big news because Google was getting involved in something connected with social marketing, even outside of Google+, but the partnership ended in March of this year. This led many to wonder whether or not Google was killing social media marketing or trying to send a message, so two months later we can finally ask ourselves: What’s the future of social media marketing without Wildfire?
The Details of the Wildfire, Google Partnership Rise and Fall
As discussed above, Google started a partnership with Wildfire in 2012 for $350 million, so you can imagine the surprise when they decided to end this partnership just 20 weeks later. Originally, the idea here was for Google to help marketers bring together insights from their social campaigns. After all, any insights a marketer can gain to help improve their content and strategy with Google is a win all around. By June, Google had built Wildfire technology into their ad technology platforms.
In Google’s announcement, however, they mentioned that the Wildfire partnership wouldn’t be over completely, their work together will just be limited. Google said:
“The Wildfire Social Marketing Suite […] will continue to be supported, but further investments will be limited: we won’t be building new features or signup up new customers. Our focus will on integrating Wildfire’s technology with our ad technology platform and building new features that enable marketers to use social insights to improve their marketing campaigns.”
Another cool thing for Google was that it gave them some insight into how Facebook works and what kind of data the network could offer to marketers. Nonetheless, as surprised or unsurprised as you may have been by Google’s decision, Google isn’t killing social media marketing. All social analytics are being integrated into DoubleClick, Google’s ad buying platform, so marketers can still use social data.
Other Tools to Help Marketers Build Integrated Campaigns with Social
Entrepreneur published an article back in March that discussed whether or not Google was killing social media marketing. According to the article, Google’s interest and investment in Wildfire legitimized social media marketing in the eyes of many observers. So another question that comes to light: Has social media marketing just devolved into simply throwing money at social networks for ads?
As discussed above, the news of the Wildfire drop shouldn’t speak for social media marketing completely. In order to have good social ads you need to have a good strategy in place to create campaigns that will really drive consumers to social channels. A few options you still have that will help you be successful include:
- Use other apps and platforms that are not Wildfire. If you really liked this way of creating and managing social campaigns, find another app to help. A few good apps that are similar to Wildfire include ShortStack, and PageModo.
- Use data to power campaigns. This refers to the data that you gather from your site through Google Analytics as well as any social data you have. Learn about the people who interact with your brand online and see what they have in common—demographics, sharing habits, etc. I recommend using the free analytics that Facebook offers, but you can move to more advanced tools for this data including Sprout Social and Socialbreakers.
- Incorporate social campaigns into your email marketing and offline campaigns. You always want to make sure that things are working the other way around as well—your other campaigns can help your social media marketing campaigns. Whenever you send out a newsletter, mention a hashtag campaign contest you have going. If there is a promotion going on in your store, encourage customers to upload photos to Instagram for a contest. Get creative and you’re campaigns should slowly start to grow.
We talked with Adam Heitzman, managing partner of SEO Company HigherVisibility, who explained that in the end, it’s pretty clear that social media is only becoming more popular. He reminded us that, “the amount of information and opportunities hasn’t disappeared despite Google’s pulling away from Wildfire. Besides, Wildfire is still up and running without Google, so it’s not a complete loss for marketers. We’ve continued on with social media marketing for our company as well as our clients using several different tools and have had great results.”
What do you think about Google’s decision to end its partnership with Wildfire? What are you going to do to keep your social media marketing efforts alive? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comment section below.