Google is acquiring Wildfire Interactive, a four-year-old social business startup that helps companies manage multiple social efforts from a single interface. Wildfire allows control, monitoring and design of pages, apps, tweets, videos, sponsorships, ads, promotions and other social media marketing and CRM efforts on one platform.

Google says the ultimate goal of acquiring Wildfire is “better and fresher content, and more meaningful interactions.” The company is positioning Wildfire as the latest in a series of efforts aimed at helping businesses manage and measure social media efforts in a meaningful way.

In a blog posting, the company cited other social media-related services it offers such as Google Analytics, the Admeld service that helps serve ads in Facebook developers’ social apps, the DoubleClick social advertising platform, and the various third-party services companies can use to manage brands on Google+ pages.

Is Google Part of a Social Media Rush?

The Wall Street Journal places Google’s acquisition of Wildfire as part of a larger “rush to figure out how to market companies on social media sites.” Although terms have not yet been publicly disclosed, a posting in the Wall Street Journal Deal Journal blog cites an unnamed source with direct knowledge as pinning the purchase price at US$ 250 million.

The Journal goes on to say Google is following in the footsteps of other major IT companies such as Oracle and Salesforce.com in trying to “scoop up the ecosystem that lives and operates around Facebook and other social-media sites.” These efforts come even as the Journal notes social media companies “remain in the doghouse for investors.”

Wildfire -- Social Media Offers Big Payout

Wildfire itself is adamant that despite floundering stock performance, social media networks offer immense value as a business tool. The company recently released data indicating that 88 percent of companies engaging customers via social media grow brand awareness, 85 percent engage in customer dialogue, 58 percent increase sales and partnerships, and 41 percent reduce costs. Nearly 70 percent of marketers believe Facebook fans are more valuable than non-Facebook fans. Clearly Google is banking on the accuracy of these statistics as justification for the purchase.

The Wildfire team, including co-founders Victoria Ransom and Alain Chuard, will join Google as a result of the acquisition. Wildfire has 16,000 clients including Virgin, Cirque du Soleil, Gilt Group and Spotify. The company employs about 400 people, all but five of whom have been hired in the past two-and-a-half years. Service and support for Wildfire customers will not change.