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Half of all internet users enter online sweepstakes and contests each month, according to Forrester Research, yet few companies have the technical know-how to integrate such promotions with the social networks they’re typically advertised on. A California startup aims to change all that, however, with a new online service that gives companies an easy way to build interactive promotions that tap into the viral capabilities they need to succeed. Most social network ads for sweepstakes, contests and giveaways take users off the social network to engage with the promotion, meaning that those promotions can’t take advantage of viral features such as friend invites, activity streams and notifications. Wildfire‘s patent-pending technology aims to solve that problem with a self-service web application that allows corporations, small businesses, marketing agencies, bloggers and nonprofits to easily create their own attractive, branded interactive promotions and simultaneously publish them in multiple social networks. Users begin by creating a branded interactive promotion using Wildfire’s easy-to-use software—available promotion formats include sweepstakes, coupon giveaways and user-generated video, photo and essay-based contests. That promotion gets simultaneously published on multiple social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo, as well as on the company’s own website. Users can then engage with the promotion via a widget on the company’s website or via applications within the social networks; either way, they can invite their friends with a few simple clicks and generate activity feeds that promote the brand around the globe. A Facebook fbFund winner, Wildfire is currently free but available for use by invitation only; ultimately, fees will start at USD 0.99 per campaign per day. Its technology is hosted on Amazon Web Services’ fully scalable EC2 platform; customers so far have included Red Bull, Pepsi and Facebook itself. Companies that run contests or sweepstakes have twice as many fans on their sponsored social network pages as those that don’t, Wildfire says. One to put to work for your own agency, blog or brand? Spotted by: Brandan Holmes



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