April 23, 2010

Wildfire App for Facebook Contests

I decided to again this year offer a Fresh Faces contest for kids. I've seen a lot of other photographers offering contests on their Facebook business pages. After some research, I realized that Facebook has a lot of guidelines in place if you want to run a contest within the site. There have been photographers who have had their pages suspended because they didn't follow the guidelines. I didn't want to get my account suspended, so I was on a mission to find another way to conduct my contest and not break the rules. (Read more about their guidelines here: http://www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php)

Enter Wildfire - a third-party application that manages contests and promotions that are web-based. I decided to test drive Wildfire for my contest. Depending on your personal needs, there are 4 versions of pricing. You pay a base price per contest or campaign then an additional dollar amount per day. I first planned on using the basic plan, but once I started creating the details of the contest I needed to upgrade to the standard version. The good thing about the app is you can start creating your contest in basic form and if you want to make changes, it lets you know the difference in pricing before you pay.

I did have some issues with entries being incomplete because people were having issues uploading their photos. Since this was a photo contest, it was a big deal. I contacted the Wildfire customer service - they responded promptly, tested my contest and said everything was working fine. I continued to have incomplete entries, so at that point I had people email me all their information and child's photo and I uploaded them myself. Extra work, that's for sure. The other snag I hit was that people could only enter the contest once, so if they had multiple children they had to pick one, I didn't like that idea so yet another reason why I was entering them myself.

I only gained a handful of new Facebook fans, so contestants weren't letting the application post on their Facebook wall that they had entered. I did have a few entries from California. People were somehow finding the contest but not reading the rules that the session would take place in Ohio. I was able to disqualify entries based on the fact they were more than 3 hrs away from me. I could have set the contest to be only Ohio entries, but I know a few folks that live out-of-state that come to Ohio often and wanted them to have the chance to participate as well.

I didn't love the Wildfire App and I didn't hate it. For me, it didn't do exactly what I wanted it to do for the budget I had to run the contest. It sounds like they are always looking for ways to update the application and make changes to suit users' needs, so maybe down the road it will work better for what I want it to do. If you're set on finding a workaround to running a Facebook contest, then this may work for you if you want to deal with the bumps in the process. I plan on running future contests on my blog, which is free!