Q&A with fbFund Winner Wildfire: New Brand Marketing Strategies on Facebook

In a continuing Q&A series with the winners of fbFund’s $250k second round of funding, Inside Facebook recently talked with Victoria Ransom, creator of the WildFire application.

Victoria shed light on WildFire’s strategies for success and highlighted the rise of advertising on Facebook. See our recent coverage for more background on changes in brand marketing inside social applications on Facebook.

Below, Victoria discusses how WildFire grew its business and handled marketing campaigns for giants like Pepsi, Amazon, and RedBull.

Q:  What problem does Wildfire Promotion Builder solve and what inspired you to start this business?

A:  Wildfire Promotion Builder provides a turnkey solution for companies (both big and small) to easily create and distribute their own branded interactive promotions (e.g. sweepstakes, user-generated contests, coupons and giveaways), and to simultaneously publish them on their website and throughout the social web. Interactive promotions are one of the most effective ways for companies to engage social network users (according to Jupiter Research, companies that run contests have twice as many social network fans as those that don’t) yet the majority of companies that advertise sweepstakes and contests on Facebook drive users outside of Facebook to engage with their promotion and thus fail to take advantage of the true power of Facebook – the social features like friend invites, activity feeds and notifications that can spread the word about promotions and companies virally.

Currently, companies wishing to integrate a promotion with Facebook’s social features need to create their own custom Facebook application – something that is beyond the resources and expertise of most companies. Wildfire Promotion Builder solves this problem by enabling companies to create their own branded interactive promotions within a matter of minutes and at a cost that’s affordable for even the smallest businesses.

Our inspiration for Wildfire Promotion Builder came from our own need. Looking for a way to promote our adventure travel company, Access Travel Ltd, to social network users, we decided to give away a free trip on Facebook. But when we searched for a way to run a sweepstakes that tapped into Facebook’s viral features we found that no easy solution existed and that we would have to build our own sweepstakes application. When other companies expressed interest in using our application, we realized that an opportunity existed to help organizations run interactive promotions on social networks and Wildfire Promotion Builder was born.

Q: A lot of the fbFund entrepreneurs that we’ve been talking with have MBAs.  Do you think that the knowledge that you and your cofounder have gained from business school has been critical?

A:  The knowledge we gained from our MBAs has certainly helped us with the development of our business, particularly with regard to developing our business model, pricing, and go-to-market strategy. The credibility and contacts we gained from our MBAs have also been helpful. Nevertheless, I do not think that having an MBA is critical to building a successful app company.

Q: What do you think made your app successful in the fbFund competition?

A:  The variety of ideas and depth of talent represented by the 25 finalists was really impressive; we were honored to be among them. In the end, I think our app stood out because we’ve focused on developing tools that will help businesses connect with Facebook users in a way that’s entertaining and beneficial to users. Despite the fact that thousands of businesses have created Facebook pages, very few app developers have focused on building apps that can be useful to businesses. I think this, coupled with our strong team, proven business model and track of record of delivering results for our clients helped us to be successful.

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