Battle Of The Facebook Sweepstakes Apps

August 3, 2012

Shakespeare famously wrote, “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Roughly 420 years later, André 3000 opined, “Lean a little bit closer, see that roses really smell like poo-poo.”

To both of them, I say that it all depends where the roses came from, which leads me to my difficult process of choosing a promotional application on Facebook when they all have the same name.

A few of us ponies recently had to build an online sweepstakes promotion through Facebook for one of our clients. The problem is, when you search “sweepstakes” on Facebook, several applications simply called “Sweepstakes” are listed. It isn’t until you click and delve further in do you get to know the company behind the software, what the software entails and how much you’re expected to, ahem, “pony” up to use it.

In the end, we ended up going with Woobox. We liked the sleek simplicity of a sweepstakes they currently had going with a big cell phone company, and the $29 price tag for a month of access to all of its applications, running the Facebook promotional gamut from custom HTML tabs to coupons to Pinterest boards. We’re happy with our choice, but there were other suitable options, of course.

For $10 more, we could have gone with the hip NorthSocial, which offers user-friendly apps ranging for donations, maps, videos, partnerships and more, and has been used by brands ranging from EA Sports to Usher to My Morning Jacket for some pretty cool-looking promotions.

For about $200 more, we could have gone with Offerpop, which tailors to both Facebook and Twitter campaigns, offers a simple, smart and fan growth-oriented app suite, and has been used by brands such as Budweiser, Lacoste and the Buffalo Bills.

There’s also Word of Social, which is a cheap solution at $9.99 per month, but doesn’t really show or tell you much about it and requires installation of the app to find out exactly how it works. That lack of discretion and client examples, read as a bit sketchy to me. However, it supposedly has 8,000 monthly users and its Facebook page has 132,000 “likes,” but its user interaction points to an application that is used primarily by non-savvy users and small-businesses that need an incredibly cheap solution for a sweepstakes.

And, of course, there’s Wildfire, which is listed first in the search results. In the previous year, we had used Wildfire’s Sweepstakes promotion, and for many businesses and agencies, especially those with large budgets, Wildfire was and is, to paraphrase Barry White, their first, last and everything in social media marketing. That’s not without reason.

Wildfire is a behemoth, relatively speaking, in its offerings of social media marketing technology. Originally founded in 2008 as a way to give a free trip away to fans of their adventure travel company, Wildfire now offers a complete suite of social media marketing tools and superior customer support that dwarfs the competition. Then again, so does its price tag. For a simple branded one-off giveaway running about two weeks like we were looking into, you’re looking at a bill of at least $66. Want custom design? Bump it up to about $320. Want a true “Like”-gate (i.e. one that can’t be navigated around through the use of a direct URL)? You’re looking into spending thousands of dollars. And unless you’re the marketing department Chicago Bears or Amazon (or they’re your client who has offered you a large social media budget), that’s probably not a feasible option for a simple giveaway promotion.

But with only 490,000 monthly users compared to Woobox’s 930,000 (listed second) and North Social’s 630,000 (listed sixth), I wondered why it was listed first. And why it had this little flag icon within its icon that made it stand out from the rest.

Well, it turns out that Facebook and Wildfire are a bit of bedfellows. Facebook invests in Wildfire through its $10 million fbFund, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s little sis Arielle is a junior project manager at Wildfire, and here’s former Facebook marketing director and big sis Randi Zuckerberg gushing over the company more than nine months ago in a now-unlisted YouTube video.

Perhaps that explains the priority listing Wildfire enjoys in the Facebook search results.

But that top spot may change now that Google purchased Wildfire on Tuesday for a sale price reportedly upwards of $400 million, which, aside from making two Zuckerberg family members-Arielle and brother-in-law Harry Schmidt-Google employees, could make Facebook less likely to highlight Wildfire’s services and, in turn, give Google potential access to valuable Facebook operational data.