In response to Altimeter Group’s recent Buyer’s Guide for social media management systems, I offered a long-standing criticism I had of Altimeter’s list of Social Media Management Solutions (SMMS) that they continue to include WildfireApp in their listing. My contention was that I believed WildfireApp to be a campaign and contest management tool for Facebook and lacking in enough functionality to really be classified as an SMMS provider.

And I stand corrected.

Alexandra Hoag and Maya Grinberg from the WildfireApp team took me through the newest version of the tool last week to ensure I had a full view of what they offer. I sure am glad she did because they certainly have more functionality now than I was aware of. I’d even used their campaign/contest management features in the last six months for a client and wasn’t aware enough to see the full functionality they have.

Image representing Wildfire Interactive as dep...

Image via CrunchBase

Before I share some of the neatness of WildfireApp, I will say this about correcting myself: Wildfire, along with many other SMMS providers, offers a set of features and functionality. None that I have found really complete the full set of functionality we’ve discussed here as being the eight functions of social media management solutions. While WildfireApp does have much more functionality than I previously was aware of, they are overwhelmingly Facebook-centric. I would hesitate to call them a full SMMS platform as a result. They do offer a full set of Facebook Management Tools, which is powerful for brands whose primary social media activity is focused on Facebook. The company is working on integration with Twitter brand pages and has some neat LinkedIn share functionality, too. But they really are only in the consideration set if you’re primary marketing focus is on Facebook.

That aside, here’s what WildfireApp has and what I like/dislike about it:

A Support Team

WildfireApp’s primary customers — those that subscribe to its pro or enterprise solutions — not only get an account manager to help navigate the tool and liaison with you, but there’s also an account strategist assigned to help you focus on the business goals you’re trying to achieve and how Facebook execution can help accomplish them. This level of professional services, which comes with the subscription and isn’t an up-charge, could be the critical difference between success or failure if your brand isn’t deeply engrained in Facebook’s ecosystem. It’s a smart value add for them and will set them a part from lots of competitors.

Page Manager Plus

The key component of WildfireApp that I was ignorant even existed was its robust Facebook Page Manager suite. It’s not just a handful of templates to create fancy Facebook tabs, but a robust set of tools that allows you to, in their words, “Bring your website to Facebook.” And much of their toolset, even the promotions and contests functionality, works the other way, too. You can pull the code, embed it on your site, and non-Facebook users can participate along in a synchronous environment. Having the robust functionality on Facebook is one thing. Bringing it back to your website is another. You could feasibly host a video contest with the tool, use your own website as the primary engagement point and have Facebook as a secondary one. Smart.

Messenger

The WildfireApp Messenger platform is simply an aggregation point for your page messages so you can monitor and respond. But it’s limited to Facebook and no other platform at present. While you can pull in and respond to comments from multiple pages, you’re limited to your Facebook world. There doesn’t seem to be a monitoring function, either. So someone mentioning but not tagging you in a conversation on Facebook won’t show up in your stream. However, the Messenger piece does allow you to schedule posts and, with an upgrade to the Enterprise version of the software, even target by geography. You could have one corporate brand page and still send local messages in your various geographic regions. While that behavior isn’t going to scale well compared to having a multiple page approach, for a brand with 20-30 locations and fewer, local messaging is at least feasible.

Promotion Builder

This is what WildfireApp started with and, in my mind, was for a long time. And they do promotions about as good as anyone. You can still go to WildfireApp and run a promotion on your Facebook page for a reasonable amount of money, too. But if you’re a Pro or Enterprise client, you get unlimited promotions, so you can always have something going to attract or engage fans. So you can run contests, have a pick your favorite poll, due sweepstakes, product regular coupons that are delivered to you Facebook fans and the like. And you can track referrals to the contest (giving you a better idea of how your advertising or outreach is doing) and get advanced demographics of the people who participate.

Bedfellows

Probably the most promising thing about WildfireApp is that they’re interwoven tightly with Facebook already. Facebook itself, in fact, is an investor in Wildfire through its fbFund. There’s even a video of former Facebook executive, and CEO sibling Randi Zuckerberg right on Wildfire’s front page in which she says, “Wildfire is an essential part of the Facebook ecosystem.” Facebook actually uses Wildfire to run some of its own promotions and pages. So it’s not only not going anywhere, it’s probably going to be consumed and become a service of the social network at some point. (Pure speculation, of course.)

So WildfireApp is much more powerful than I understood it to be. I apologize for any grief that may have caused anyone. It’s a robust management solution for any brand wishing to focus its social media marketing efforts on Facebook. If you’re looking to integrate management of Twitter, LinkedIn, your blog, YouTube and other avenues, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Is it an SMMS. Technically, yes. But understand the scope of what any tool you’re considering offers before you dive in.

And since many of you will ask, the Pro solution for Wildfire starts at $2500 per month. Enterprise is $3500 per month plus a sliding scale increase for every Facebook Page you add to manage.

Have you used WildfireApp? For what? Thoughts? The comments are yours.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.foodtruckfreak.com Alex Levine

    A while ago I was comparing WildFire with Woobox. I even had a lengthy discussion with a WildFire salesman (Luis), in which I asked him what service they provide to justify the substantial price difference (wildfire was about $400-$500/month, Woobox wis $29/month), and he had no answer. In fact, he asked if he could get back to me on that. A week later, after conferring with his team, he still could not say how their service was different. I am not too impressed with WildFire.

    • Mike

      Hi Alex – 

      I am one of the original members of the Wildfire Sales team here.  I can say that it is tough to keep up with all of the solutions on the market.  Seems like every time we turn around there is a new company name with solutions they claim to be similar.  I cannot even imagine what it is like to be a consumer of these.

      As a side note, I started with Wildfire in Redwood City and over the summer moved out to Chicago to start our office here.  I think you may be in Chicago?  We have an growing office in River North (10 people right now)

      For a comparison to WooBox.  I am going to focus on some broad items:

      1.  Jason’s blog post emphasizes support.  This is something we take very seriously.  When you invest with Wildfire you are purchasing a partner to help you achieve your marketing and business goals.  This includes both strategy support and technical support.  Often times our client services department is larger than others’ entire companies (true in the WooBox comparison)

      2.  With the introduction of so many new companies claiming to be experts, it is always a good idea to check out LinkedIn for company size.  This is generally a proxy to experience.  It will also tell you how quickly to expect new templates, ideas and features.  Wildfire has a sizable engineering team releasing templates and features every 2 weeks.

      3.  Next take a look at their FB page.  Do they practice what they preach? I checked out Woobox here and like their page especially given their size. Always good to look though as I have seen some where you wonder how the company claims to be a ‘expert’ in social. 

      4.  In terms of technical features of the suites – From a look at the Woobox website there are some major differences.  Woobox can do Sweeps, Coupons, Has a tab editor (not much info here), Deals and Polls.

      They enable CSS and HTML access, but do not mention Javascript or Flash.  They do not have a messenger tool or messenger analytics

      We have 13 promotion type (to their 3).  Most notable item missing from Woobox is UGC contests (photo, video, essay).  It is tough to create an app that hosts photos allows for voting / sharing and enables features that block cheaters

      For Tabs, we have 78 proven templates that you can use out of the box or  get into source code to edit.  Javascript is essential to enable engaging ideas such as fan counters, Video gates, Engagement gates, Timers.  Flash is essential for animation making product galleries come to life.  

      I know it is upon us to show the value of our suite and I hope you give us another look.

      Sincerely

      Mike Nabasny
      312-324-4737

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  • Luis Manrique

    This is a great review, Jason. I couldn’t be more excited to watch our platform’s capabilities expand to allow users to manage all of their activities on social media. After reading your “8 Functions of Social Media Management Solutions” article, I think we’re both on the same page as to the future of SMMS. 

    We’ll definitely keep you up to date with new developments!

    Alex: I’d love for you to follow Jason’s lead and re-examine our platform’s capabilities. I’m extremely proud of how robust our platform’s capabilities are and am always happy to talk shop about social media!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks for swinging by Luis. Appreciate your work.

  • http://twitter.com/papayamaya Maya Grinberg

    Jason! Thanks so much for the detailed and thoughtful follow up about Wildfire. I’m so glad you liked what you saw, I knew you would! Cheers and always let me know if you have any questions or if there’s anything we can help you with. 

  • http://www.i95dev.com/ecommerce-magento Henry Louis

    Hi Jason! Thanks for giving brief explanation about Wildfire. Great review. I came to know few interesting points regarding Wildfire by reading this post. Keep updating.

  • info

    Few things I didnt like about WildFire app.
    1. if the contest is by votes the participant cannot see the amount of vote they have.
         (Cause your clients or fans doubt if the contest is legit and how they are doing in the contest)
    2. As the person holding the contest we cannot see what use is actually voting. (Easy for other participant to say there is a fraud  and as the person holding the contest I have no idea who or what account is voting.)
    If these reason are not important to you then is fine but remember you might create a negative feeling on your best clients or fan base.
    I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS PROGRAM. SO MUCH MONEY BUT DOESNT REALLY DO MUCH:

    • Carrie

      what program would you recommend?

      • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

        Depends on what you’re trying to do with social. Lots of good tools out there. Some expensive, some cheap, some with certain functionality and some lacking. What are you trying to use a tool like this for? Glad to chime in with some points.

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  • Andrew

    Did anyone ever manage to get response from WildFire? Send them enquiry one week ago – still no answer…