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How Google hopes to help social media marketing spread like Wildfire
Claire | August 13, 2012
Google has reportedly snapped up online marketing website Wildfire for $250 million (₤159 million) in a move which could finally help SMEs unlock the vast potential of social media marketing.
Founded four years ago in the US, Wildfire provides a platform for companies to manage integrated social media accounts and marketing campaigns on a range of sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn from a single portal.The site’s popularity has spread like its proverbial name, employing more than 400 people with a staggering list of 16,000 clients, including global giants such as Virgin and Unilever.
But where Wildfire’s potential is perhaps of most interest is the opportunities to allow smaller businesses to finally get a handle on how to make online marketing, and social media in particular, work for them.
While big businesses, with so much cash to throw at the problem, are seeing increasingly better results from social media marketing, SMEs remain somewhat confounded by the problem of how to get breakthrough, and the right kind at that, via a communication channel as vast, as crowded and as volatile as the World Wide Web.
A survey of SMEs in the UK published this week by Constant Contact revealed that while a quarter use Facebook to promote their businesses, more than a third of those who do don’t believe it has had any positive impact.
And therein lies the enduring problem of social media marketing – everyone thinks they should be doing it, but in many cases the how’s and why’s remain a mystery.
Marketing analysts have now started to espouse a mantra-like solution – integration, integration, integration. To make social media marketing work, it has to fit in with a larger marketing vision, it has to have a defined role, and it has to have a purpose. But that’s all very well, say the SME operators, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of it, what is it exactly that Twitter can do for me, and how do I make my Facebook page pay?
Making social media work is time-consuming, because it is all about maintaining those ever-so-important conversations with your target audience, keeping content fresh and up-to-date, giving people reasons to keep coming back for more. The beauty of Wildfire is that it allows you to do all of those things across several different platforms at once from a single space. As Google’s product management director Jason Miller says, it is all about creating ‘more meaningful conversations’.
With Google’s clout behind it, the hope is now that Wildfire can grow beyond social media and become a fully integrated digital marketing platform. But for now, the focus will remain on strengthening the social media offering, allowing companies to develop, maintain and, importantly, measure interactive campaigns across a range of different platforms simultaneously. For small to medium-sized businesses, such a service could mean finally escaping the befuddling fog of social media uncertainty and breathing in the rarified air of digital marketing success.
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