Back in July 2012, just at the peak of its software development, Wildfire posted the announcement every Silicon Valley startup pines after on its blog. The company had just sold itself to Google for $350 million — likely more, given the buyout of its 400+ employees. Wildfire began building the service in 2008, and by the time it was bought, boasted an impressive resume of 16,000 clients – 30 of which were among the world’s top 50 brands.
Alain Chuard and Victoria Ransom, co-founders of the company, are a powerful husband-wife duo with complementary entrepreneurial skills that’ve led the company from startup to profitable acquisition in just over four years. In 2008, after realizing their passion for finance was dead in the water, they quit their jobs and took to the snow, teaching clients the ins and outs of snowboarding and winter sports.
And then, the lightbulb moment.
After trying to run a digital sweepstakes campaign for fellow boarding enthusiasts on Facebook, a new business goal took shape. How could they make it easier to build and market promotions? Chuard and Ransom, both MBA graduates, decided to jump headfirst into building Wildfire.
The platform was born.
(1) Wildfire’s features pack heat.
At first glance, Wildfire seems to combine all the things marketers and social media managers love about Hootsuite (listening), Buffer (queueing) and Sprout Social (analytics). The platform lets users post specific content for specific audiences on a range of devices, plugging right into relevancy, timeliness and the omni-channel social customer.
The platform has several outstanding features, like creating filters for posting and listening by demographic, geography, and age. You can also create a unified content calendar, and assign permissions to multiple internal authors. The ease of use within the app is highly valuable for those that are tasked with creating, writing, and posting a steady flow of branded content – no more toggling between draft posts, splintered email conversations about the content between team members, or miscommunication about publishing dates. It’s all inside.
(2) It boasts an impressive centralized command-zone.
Apps, advertisements, subscriptions, social updates, campaigns, promotions, videos and content calendars (that’s a mouthful) are all located in one central place with Wildfire. For large teams, this is no-doubt an enormous benefit.
Since Wildfire allows brands to customize each piece of content as much or as little as desired, users can spend up to 70% less hands-on time. That means less designing and delegating, and more time spent conversing with the brand’s audience. Use pre-designed templates and drop in brand assets, or create an entirely custom aesthetic. Either way, Wildfire makes it effortless to run cross-platform ads and promotions, so users will have a uniform experience from mobile to tablet to desktop. Given its 2012 study, "The New Multi-Screen World" on cross-platform engagement, this is clearly on point with Google’s attempt to bring fully integrated marketing campaigns to life.
With that piece of the puzzle already solved, Wildfire flaunts convenience. For small teams and agencies, the time it takes to hire a developer, plan a campaign, build, design, and optimize it for multiple devices, Wildfire reduces friction by letting brands go to market quickly and getting conversations started without time wasted on buildout.
(3) It’s driven by purpose.
One of the more unique value propositions for Wildfire is its optimization based on specific business goals, like boosting contest entries, increasing downloads, or growing a targeted fanbase. Rather than using more traditional marketing goals – upping conversion rates, click-throughs, or cost-per-interaction – Wildfire encourages more organic and purposeful goals.
With a clear ambition in mind, campaigns can follow suit. This type of workflow is productive, not only for the project at hand, but for the entire development process and marketing team. When your brand has a clear view of what it wants, it can go after what it needs – which Wildfire seems to have a firm understanding of.
(4) Subscriptions are necessary — and could set you back $3,000+.
Now, the necessary evil. How much will it set you back?
Wildfire doesn’t disclose its subscription fee on its website, so you’ll have to talk one-on-one with a representative who’ll go through the nitty gritty of your needs, goals, and preferences. Estimates and demo users have said that the platform typically ranges between $3,000-$4,000, with almost all features “locked” until a full plan is purchased.
The initial cost is high, but consider this – for one single ad spend, what would your brand usually invest in? To hire talent that could build and develop content, how much would you be paying for?
If you’re doing multiple campaigns, or looking to make the leap into a more turnkey content production platform, be sure to calculate the cost of time and energy associated with developing a streamlined process. When all is said and done, it may be worth it to invest in what you won’t have to worry about later.
These are vitally important questions that can only be answered on a brand-by-brand basis. Take time to learn more about the product before deeming it a thumbs up or thumbs down. As with most platforms, the right fit will be dependent on a bevy of brand considerations.
(5) Does it hold greater Adwords weight?
Of course, there’s also an elephant in the room.
Given Google’s Adwords authority, and the fact that Wildfire is backed by the Google brand itself, can the world’s biggest brands expect added weight in search results?
The platform that brands publish from has little to no weight when it comes to SEO. There doesn’t seem to be a “special sauce” component here, that gives brands an edge when it comes to ranking in search results.
That said, Wildfire does encourage its users to create more quality content that’s designed to resonate organically, and thus grow in popularity. By saving brands, marketers, and entire teams of people time in the design and publishing process, Wildfire takes the elbow grease out of the equation, leaving more room to sweat the small stuff – like messaging, interaction, conversations and storytelling.
Which is, in the end, what every top brand wants.