Evolution from stand-alone tools that manage specific channels to digital marketing solutions that provide comprehensive insight to online activity is inevitable. Google’s integration of Wildfire’s technology into DoubleClick Digital Marketing is a sign that the social channel is changing and the future is much closer.
Marketers are learning more about how people interact with brands across channels. They are using that knowledge to create campaigns focused on the customer experience. The once popular theory that social media would replace traditional marketing has been debunked. In reality, people aren’t limiting themselves to one channel. They are using every channel to become empowered consumers. Social has become an integral part of the buying decision by changing the way we communicate but traditional marketing remains an effective part of the process.
Could it be that this was what Google had in mind when investing $450 million to acquire Wildfire and retain the company’s employees? The original purchase price of $350 million was immediately followed with a $100 million retention package for Wildfire’s team. Hints from Google have appeared along the way. The announcement that Wildfire had been acquired in June 2012 included this comment, “a social presence can complement all marketing campaigns—search, display, video, mobile, offline ads and more.”
Fast forward one year to the announcement that Wildfire technology is being integrated into the DoubleClick platform for a déjà vu experience. In June 2013, Neal Mohan of DoubleClick noted, “Now, marketers can address a critical part of the customer journey, and do it alongside search, display, rich media, video and mobile as part of the broader DoubleClick Digital Marketing platform.”
The announcement this month that Wildfire won’t be “building new features or signing up new customers” by Victoria Ransom is simply the next step in the integration process. Google is focused on creating an integrated digital marketing platform to better serve marketers. The Wildfire team will continue to provide support to existing customers presumably until the integration into the DoubleClick platform is complete.
When Google makes a change, the industry adapts.
This one is good for marketers. Jeremy Epstein of Sprinklr, a social media management system, agrees with Google’s move. “We think it is very wise of Google to focus on its core integrated digital offering. The broader market has recognized that enterprise Social is not an add-on or a series of point solutions that are cobbled together.
The arrival of the empowered customer means that Social must be addressed from an enterprise-wide perspective. Otherwise, it’s not possible for large brands to maintain context or have a unified view of the social customer. This is a risky proposition, particularly for large brands.
Today, large brands are looking for solutions where innovation is constant, not back-burnered, and a technology partner that has a core, integrated Social offering.”
Marketers who have been seeking better tools to measure, monitor, and manage multiple channels are a bit closer to receiving their wish for better insight. Steve Rayson, author of SMToolbox, notes that social media management is a critical task for businesses that has become quite complex. He adds, “It also shows the importance of social insights across a range of areas. In this case there is no question that social insights can be used to improve ad campaigns, equally social signals are being used to determine and filter search results and socially shared content provides key insights into content marketing and the content people engage with.”
The closing of Wildfire to new customers and features requires current clients to evaluate their position. Since Wildfire is continuing to provide support, continuing to use the social marketing suite until the integration is complete is one option. Shopping for a new solution is another. Rayson believes the change “potentially offers more opportunities to other social media tool providers such as SproutSocial or Sprinklr.” When asked how the announcement would affect Sprinkr, Epstein shared that “We see it as an opportunity to provide a Wildfire alternative with zero disruption migration.” He also mentioned that many large brands had already reached out to them.
What’s next for social media management?
Tools are becoming more effective at providing insight to the way people interact with brands and each other. This information can be used to create user experiences that cross channels and platforms. Epstein believes that instead of talking about social media management we’ll be talking about social experience management in the near future. This moves us closer to the one-to-one marketing vision where every person has a unique brand experience. To move your company closer to making that vision a reality:
Analyze your company’s needs - Identifying the best tools for your company’s data management is easier when you know exactly what you need. Wait until after your specifications are clearly defined and documented to shop for new management solutions.
Evaluate all of the tools you are using to manage channels and platforms - What are their strengths? Where do you need improvement? Is integration possible? What new features are being developed?
Review alternative tools - The social media tool providers you have may not be the best for your company. Evaluate alternatives to see if they will better serve your business.
Select the tools that best fit your needs - One tool that provides insight to all channels and platforms isn’t available. Choose the tools that provide insight and work together with minimal manual adaptation.
Avoid long-term contracts - Social media management solutions are evolving at a rapid pace. Don’t get locked into a contract that keeps your company from growing as the market changes.