Votigo Sets Its Sights on Facebook Marketing

Votigo, Inc. is a social media promotions company offering a range of services, including solutions for Facebook and Twitter, as well as widgets and different APIs applicable to a variety of other platforms.

Initially Votigo focused on user-generated photos/video contests, interactive sweepstakes and online promotions, but Facebook has increasingly become a focal point of the company’s business.

Founded in 2006 by Mike La Rotonda and Jim Risner in the Bay Area to help businesses better engage customers, the company has raised $1.27 million from Headwaters Holdings and several angel investors. The company also has an office located in Hyderabad, India. We spoke with Risner recently as part of our occasional series of Facebook page management company profiles.

Inside Facebook: What products and services does your company provide to clients using Facebook? What types of clients are you aiming to reach?

Jim Risner: We focus primarily on promotions (user-generated video, photo, and essay contests, sweepstakes, giveaways, and coupons) built as applications that can be added to a brand’s Page. We are full-service, but we also license our self-service tools and APIs. Our solutions come with content moderation tools and (other) features that help users spread the word about the promotion.

We tend to work mostly with larger brands and agencies like Ford, Coca-Cola, Southwest Airlines, Sharpie, KOHLs, and Shutterfly. Agencies we work with include DraftFCB, Ogilvy, Wunderman, and Arnold Worldwide, but we have solutions that work for small to medium sized businesses and agencies as well. The types of companies that use our solutions really ranges anywhere from CPG to automakers to large retailers to technology companies. Most companies are realizing the power of Facebook and building community around their brands. Promotions are probably the best way to do it. What we do isn’t limited to one type of company or category.

IFB: Can you share some highlights of how your company has helped clients meet their goals using Facebook?

JR: It’s not uncommon to see Likes or fan bases grow anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 in a few weeks to a month. Right now we have over 250,000 monthly active unique across our live promotions on Facebook. We also look at total user engagement. So things like the number of views, number votes, number of comments, number of shares, number entries and so on.

IFB: Overall, can you share metrics on the scope of your business?

JR: We work with over 100 different brands and agencies in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Halfway through this year we’ve already doubled our revenue from last year. The size of our team has tripled since this time last year. We are profitable and growing. We are fortunate to have a lot of repeat clients as well.

IFB: What metrics do you use to determine the success of a given campaign?

JR: Success of a campaign really comes down to the client’s goals for that particular promotion. Sometimes it’s all about the fans, sometimes it’s about collecting great video content, or overall brand awareness, engaging existing customers and attracting new ones. So it really varies from campaign to campaign. I think the most common goal right now for brands on Facebook is acquiring new “Likes” (fans). But once you get the fans you need to continue to engage them. So many of the brands we work with will run several promotions throughout the year.

IFB: What have been your biggest challenges building on Facebook platform? What mistakes have you made and learned from there?

JR: The biggest challenge has been keeping up with the changes to the Facebook Platform. I can’t think of one particular mistake we’ve made, but we all make mistakes and as long as we learn from them that’s what really matters.

IFB: Beyond your own efforts, what Facebook changes have noticeably helped your company?

JR: Being added by Facebook as a Preferred Developer Consultant has been the biggest change that has helped our company in this particular area. We’ve seen a sharp and steady increase in people contacting us to create their next promotion on Facebook.

IFB: On the other hand, has Facebook made any recent changes that have noticeably hurt your company?

JR: Not really. We expect change and we’re eager to leverage any new changes that can help our clients succeed in growing their fan base and building their brands on Facebook.

IFB: If you could ask Facebook to make a single change, what would it be?

JR: Since our clients are primarily focused on Pages we would like to see more functionality in Pages including being able to leverage Social Plug-ins on them. basically right now you can’t really do anything on the pages, so just being able to leverage more the functionality for client request because they’re static pages. you have to click thru to the app before you can really start pulling in user info and seeing what they  like or recommend or tapping into any of the social info that you can capture within the app. So, those pages are fairly static.

IFB: How does your work on Facebook relate to your work on other platforms?

JR: Our promotions run across any social network, microsite, or blog. Our microsites include Facebook Connect and publishing features that allow users to post to their Facebook Wall when they do things like enter a contest, comment on someone else’s entry, or vote. Users can Like a brand’s Facebook Page from the microsite. We also have a really cool Twitter Sweepstakes solution that includes a fully branded site. I think more and more Facebook is becoming just as it is in the entire Internet world it’s becoming kind of a primary focus for us so it’s definitely  helping to drive the innovation, it’s really kind of in the last year or so kind of come even more to the forefront of what we do. Even though we offer solutions across the board, whether it’s a microsite or whatever, Facebook is becoming the go-to promotion platform. So for our clients the focus especially as of late is all about Facebook.

IFB: Do you have any specific plans that you can share?

JR: We are very focused on our Agency and Publisher tools and APIs right now. Making enhancements in that area is probably highest on our list. Making things a little bit easier to use, flow better, just making it all-inclusive and very modular so a client can just easily go into the self-serve tool and run it. After that we’re looking at ways to integrate mobile.