Start A Fire is shutting down on May 4, 2017 and users will begin looking for the best alternatives shortly thereafter. Look no further, here’s what I believe to be the top Start A Fire replacement for bloggers.
Best Start-A-Fire Alternative
I’ve audited a number of Start A Fire alternatives over the last 2 years, and the one that really caught my interest is called Back.ly.
This top Start A Fire alternative launched in 2015, and it appears that many online reviews have overlooked it. And that’s a huge loss for bloggers, everywhere.
What was Start-A-Fire?
Before we look at Back.ly: Start A Fire was a social media sharing tool that allowed you to share your own content alongside other content that you share on social media in the form of a live chat-style widget.
Any link that you share online can include a customized badge on the lower portion of the viewer’s screen, with a link to your own blog, product, or service.
It was a service heavily used and promoted by high profile social media experts like Sam Hurley.
Why Use Social Media Tools like Back.ly or Start-A-Fire?
Social media tools like Start A Fire, and now Back.ly, are a great way to leverage high quality content from other sources to promote your own brand, all on the same page.
It’s difficult to come up with original content all the time, and Back.ly allows bloggers and brands to piggyback on content made by others.
The end result is that the reader is given additional content options (like your blog!) when they visited a link served up with one of these social media tools.
How did Start-A-Fire Work?
Using the Start a Fire dashboard, you could configure the recommended content that will appear when you share a link using the service.
It would automatically convert links from Buffer or Twitter and other social platforms to shortened “stfi.re” links that would display your content alongside the content you shared. Today these links no longer work.
You could select a customized image for your logo, include your website name, write a link description to include in their live-chat style bubble that appeared over shared article content, and include an image to accompany your link (or it will default to the post featured image).
Additional integrations for Start A Fire included:
Start A Fire also had an iPhone app, Facebook Messenger bot, Slack bot, and WordPress plugin. Their premium version allowed pixel tracking and re-targeting, email subscriptions, and had robust API connectivity. It’s vast range of applications will make it harder to see it go.
How to Use Start-A-Fire or Back.ly
As a travel blogger, I would first use BuzzSumo (or something like it) to find viral content from around the internet, and then share it using the usual social media scheduling software I use every day.
I had integrated Start a Fire into Buffer, so I could schedule content using stfi.re shortlinks automatically. Back.ly works the same way –once it’s set up, you don’t need to do anything differently. Just set it up and forget about it.
Social media tools of this nature are ideal for new travel bloggers trying to make a splash and grow their traffic; when unknown to many, it’s easy to promote your own blog on the same page as popular, well-known travel brands.
These social media tools allow bloggers to align their own related content along with recognized, popular content that is connected to the same topic or niche.
Top Start-A-Fire Alternative: Back.ly
In my opinion, Back.ly is the best Start A Fire replacement for bloggers, as it possesses many of the same features Start A Fire did, and it has a cleaner, simpler interface –it’s so easy to use that a blogger can set it up in under 5 minutes.
It operates much the same as Start A Fire, although you can also choose a horizontal bar above or below content instead of a live chat-style widget –sort of like the popular Hello Bar WordPress plugin, except you’re able to place that bar with your messaging on someone else’s website.
It integrates with popular social media scheduling services, and it can also plug into RSS feeds of popular content sources for automatic customized sharing. Unlimited integrations are available, meaning that you can plug in multiple Twitter or Buffer accounts to one instance of Back.ly.
The premium version fo Back.ly also echoes those of Start A Fire and allows for greater functionality that high profile bloggers and brands will appreciate; remove the Back.ly branding, use custom CSS, implement pixel tracking and re-targeting, run custom scripts, use custom domains, and more.
You can learn more about Back.ly here.
The end-of-life of Start A Fire isn’t the end of the world –as much as I lament that such a great tool has come to its end-of-life, I am happy that it has forced me to seek out new Start A Fire alternatives.
There are plenty of technologies to stand in its place; is Back.ly the best Start A Fire replacement in your mind, or is there another alternative you prefer? Let our readers know why in the comments.
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