Interview: Victoria Ransom, CEO and Founder of Wildfire Interactive

-Victoria Ransom Headshot-When Facebook hosted the first ever governance vote a couple of weeks ago, one of the biggest winners of the vote was Wildfire Promotion Builder, the company that developed the Facebook Governance voting application. As soon as I noticed that Facebook hadn’t built the application internally I had to find out who was behind the company.

After doing a little digging I found out that the company was a winner in the last round of the fbFund, Facebook’s seed fund for entrepreneurs looking to build applications with Facebook’s social technology. The company appears to have perfect timing, offering a suite of tools for developing branded interactive promotions, many of which are targeted at leveraging Facebook’s new public profile format. Last week AllFacebook had the opportunity to talk with Victoria about the company’s plans.

AllFacebook: What is Wildfire Promotion Builder? What’s your role there?

Victoria Ransom: Wildfire Promotion Builder (http://www.wildfireapp.com) provides a turnkey solution for companies and agencies of all sizes to easily create and distribute their own branded interactive promotions (e.g. sweepstakes, user-generated contests, coupons and giveaways), and to simultaneously publish them in multiple social networks (including on Facebook Fan Pages/Public Profiles) and on their website. Our product provides users with two big benefits. Firstly, we dramatically reduce the time and money involved in creating and running promotions – via Wildfire Promotion Builder you can get a promotion up and running within minutes and for minimal cost. Secondly, we provide a far more effective way to distribute promotions by enabling companies to tap into the viral features of the social networks. Even companies that want to run their promotion on their website can still tap into the viral power of Facebook because we automatically integrate campaigns with Facebook Connect. Promotions are a powerful way to engage users, generate leads, build fan bases (according to Jupiter Research, companies that run contests have 2x as many social network friends as those that don’t) and drive sales – with Wildfire Promotion Builder we’re making it a whole lot easier to run effective promotions!

I’m the founder and CEO of Wildfire Interactive; I founded the company with Alain Chuard, who is the main guy behind our product and design. As for my role? Well, we are a pretty lean team so I end up wearing a whole lot of different hats. But broadly speaking, I am primarily focused on strategy, business development and marketing.

AllFacebook: How did Wildfire Promotion Builder get started?

Victoria Ransom: Actually, we started it soon after Facebook first launched its fan pages for businesses because we were looking for a way to promote the fan page (now known as Public Profiles) for one of our previous companies (http://www.accesstrips.com). We’d had a lot of success in the past using sweepstakes to build traffic on this company’s website so we felt that a sweepstakes, contest or giveaway would be a great way to drive engagement with our fan page. But when we searched for a way to run a promotion that tapped into Facebook’s viral features we found that no easy solution existed and that we’d need to build our own application. When other companies expressed interest in using our promotions application, we realized that an opportunity existed to help organizations run interactive promotions on social networks and Wildfire Promotion Builder was born.

AllFacebook: You were a winner of the last fbFund … What was that process like?

Victoria Ransom: It was a pretty long process but was totally worth it. Being an fbFund winner has been incredible for us – it has opened a ton of doors, brought us a lot of credibility and really helped us build our business. We are extremely grateful to Facebook, Accel Partners and the Founders Fund. In terms of the process: we had to first submit a written application and a 3-minute video, this was followed by interviews, and then after being selected as finalists we had to produce a working version of our application for the public to vote on. All in all it took about four months, but it was well worthwhile!

AllFacebook: It appears your company is currently in beta … how can interested users get an invite?

Victoria Ransom: We’d be happy to give the first 200 AllFacebook readers an invite! Sign up at: http://www.wildfireapp.com/companies/get_invite, mention that you heard about us from AllFacebook and we’ll send you an invite.

AllFacebook: I noticed that your company developed the Facebook Governance Vote application. Is that part of your existing offering or was that a customized application?

Victoria Ransom: Yes, we just finished running the Facebook Site Governance Vote. It was a pretty groundbreaking vote – Facebook is the first company to allow users to vote on terms of use, so we were very excited to be involved. Prior to this campaign we’d run a lot of vote-based contests, but no voting-only applications. Now we have a robust, scalable solution for companies to simultaneously run votes across multiple platforms (on their website, their Facebook public profile, their MySpace page etc) and to get their campaign up and running within minutes. What’s interesting about running voting campaigns in social networks (aside from the viral power, of course) is the additional security that this provides – because we can identify users based on their social network ID we can control the number of times that any given social network account holder can vote. This level of control is much harder to ensure outside of social networks, as evidenced by the recent alleged hacking of Time Magazine’s ’100 Most Influential People’ Vote.

-Wildfire Promotion Builder Details-

AllFacebook: What platforms are you currently offering services for?

Victoria Ransom: We’re currently integrated with Facebook, Facebook Connect, MySpace and Ning. So with just a couple of clicks, companies can use our application to simultaneously publish their promotion on their Facebook Fan Page, on their MySpace page, within their Ning Network and on their website (via a microsite that is automatically integrated with Facebook Connect). Within the world of online promotions, this is pretty game-changing stuff. Enabling companies to run a promotion in multiple channels, tap into the viral features of social networks, and manage and analyse their campaign and data within one central source, is really powerful. Without our application a company wanting to run a multi-channel promotion would have to build a custom campaign for each channel – a time consuming and expensive process!

AllFacebook: What companies have you built campaigns for so far?

Victoria Ransom: Although we’re still in private beta a lot of companies have used and are currently using our platform to run interactive promotions. These range from some of the biggest brands (Pepsi, Sony, Facebook, RedBull, Ogilvy, 3M) to some of the smallest mom & pop shops. We’ve run seven different campaigns for Facebook, which has been great. One of the most exciting aspects of our business thus far has been the range of companies and organizations that are interested in using our platform – everything from famous bands and celebrities to Fortune 500′s, local businesses like restaurants and bars, online retailers, non-profits and universities. We’re also working with a lot of advertising and PR agencies, independent marketing consultants and web designers.

-Rothbury Promotion Screenshot-

AllFacebook: What are the next steps for Wildfire App?

Victoria Ransom: We’re focused right now on working with our beta users to refine our product, optimize the user experience and add key new features so we can launch with a robust and scalable product. Aside from this, we are working on a number of exciting opportunities to expand our platform.

AllFacebook: Anything else that you’d like to add?

Victoria Ransom: It’s worth pointing out that although our technology is designed to be self-service, we do provide additional support and services for those companies that require help with drafting rules, fulfillment, custom CSS design or driving traffic to their campaign. In keeping with our mission to streamline the process of running promotions, our system for providing these services is as seamless and cost effective as possible.

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