You can be sure the casino industry knows a good bet when it sees one. And perhaps the most valuable tool to help revive a sluggish gaming industry in Mississippi is marketing through social media.
“We look at social media, and there are a lot of different ways to approach it,” Brian Best, corporate president of e-commerce at Boyd Gaming, said last week at the Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi. “It is a marketing tool, and it is a marketing and branding tool to engage customers, but it’s also a customer service tool. And another thing that’s really growing is in industry is loyalty, especially using social media platforms.”
Facebook has about 600 million monthly active users, and twitter has about 200 million. Then there’s Instagram and Vine rising up the list. Don’t forget Google+.
But the marketing tools both ways. Casinos encourage customers to engage their social media and Internet sites by offers of free points, free tickets and meals. In return, casinos are able to harvest personal information — a valuable tool in direct marketing.
Boyd Gaming, which operates IP-Biloxi and Tunica’s Sam’s Town, has been using B-Connected and B-Mobile, its loyalty programs in all of its casinos. It has now added B-Social, a program that interacts with social media, which best calls a huge value to the company.
“We wanted to add online and gaming component to social media. Gaming is very social activity,” said Best. “Behind the scenes is opportunity to capture customer information.”
B-Social allows customers to compete at games and earn social points and win points, prizes and badge, much like other games on Facebook. “We also reward them for certain online activities, such as booking room on line or sharing online content,” said Best, “The average Facebook user has 234 friends, so if you have a following of 10,000 customers. That is a wide net to getting your message out there.”
Reaching that customer and connecting with their information is important in almost any business that requires marketing.
“With this world of online oversaturation, no business can wait to be found,” said Joe Stradinger, founder a Leadify, a social branding service in Jackson that he calls “a find engine.”
“We want to find people and influence their decisions or influence them to make new decision. The best way to do that is through media conversation.”
“Next time you do a contest or promotion, read that fine print,” said Best, “because they’re probably accessing some of your information.”
One drawback to exposing your company on social media is the negative experience.
“You sometime get detractors,” said Vincent Lentini, senior vice president of marketing at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Biloxi. “You have to react very tactfully.”
“If you let negative comments go, they fester and multiply and the reach can be substantial,” said Best. “People will wait to see how you handle it. We try to respond to negative comments with in 24 hours. It really does make a difference. Sometimes it can turn into a positive thing.”
“There’s no turning your back on social media,” said Ryan Leeds, vice president of strategy at Masterminds. “If you don’t have an account, people are still talking about you.”
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