The California-based company provides tools for interactive promotions which maximise the viral potential of social networks
By Rosie Lavan
Wildfire provides tools and apps that enables brands – be they major firms or small businesses, bloggers or non-profit companies – to harness the attention of users on the major social network sites through interactive promotions. Its flexible, easy-to-use software helps users generate and spread promotions through tapping into the viral features of networks like Facebook and Twitter to reach as many people as possible.
It all began in 2008, when co-founders Victoria Ransom and Alain Chuard wanted to give away a free holiday on Facebook to promote their adventure travel company. When they discovered that no appropriate tool existed, they developed their own sweepstakes application for Facebook. Almost at once their work caught the attention of major brands and companies. Zappos.com, the American internet shopping site, was among the first to approach Wildfire with a request for a promotion design, not realising at the time that the company consisted only of Ransom, Chuard, and a couple of contractors. It has, since then, gone from strength to strength; it is now a company of around 50 people, and customers have included Facebook, PepsiCo, Sony and Victoria’s Secret.
Wildfire recognises that internet users are increasingly resistant to and even resentful towards marketing which simply seeks to sell. Instead, it argues that sweepstakes, online giveaways and contests are far more effective and popular, enabling brands to boost social network fan bases or mailing lists, increase traffic to their sites, drive sales or simply raise awareness.
“It’s definitely been an evolution of products that grew in accordance with needs and desires expressed by the social network community,” Maya Grinberg, Communities Manager at Wildfire Interactive, explains. Looking ahead, the intention is to secure Wildfire’s position as an indispensable tool in interactive promotion and marketing and beyond.
“Of course we will still have a very robust and powerful promotions platform, but we are also definitely experimenting with ways in which we can expand our utility in the social media space,” says Grinberg. “Ideally, by adding products to our set of applications we will eventually be at a place where Wildfire is the name that you go to when you have any kind of social media need.”
A key area of focus is analytics. The Wildfire Social Media Monitor enables users to track the success of their brand across different social networks and relate performance to specific promotions, and to chart their success alongside that of their competitors.
For users from the creative media, Wildfire, says Grinberg, “remains a platform for spreading the word or spreading the message.” She cites a promotion the company designed for EA Games and its Dead Space game franchise. To promote the eagerly anticipated Dead Space 2, a contest inviting fans to submit their own perfect kill sequence was devised. Entries could take the form of scripts, a storyboard or series of images, or a video in which fans acted out their sequence. The prize was for the winning idea – and the face of its creator – to feature in the game.
Such direct engagement is key in driving interest in creative projects and products, says Grinberg. “Its [a project’s] success is dependent on uptake by the people. How do you get people excited about something before it’s come out? You get them involved.”