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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have You Registered For Explore Dallas-Fort Worth?
Don’t miss a day of intensive learning with some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the digital marketing and social media marketing space. Copyblogger’s Brian Clark, Edison Research’s Tom Webster, Edelman Digital’s Zena Weist and more headline one of the leading digital and social media marketing events of 2012, February 17 in Dallas, Texas! DON’T WAIT TO REGISTER! The first 100 to do so get an incredible discount! Reserve your seat today!