It’s something that we’ve all been hearing about for a very long time. We’re continually told that it’s the way of the future, that you have to have a strategy, that without it you’ll be left in the past along with fax machines and Full Tilt. I am, of course talking about social media.
Social media is now supposedly so important that it’s mentioned almost everywhere you go. Most adverts have the logos of some social network in the corner while anyone in attendance at the IGA this week will be well versed on the power of social media. Even academics have turned their attention to it. According to these social media experts, the “new internet” comes in many shapes and sizes.
The following have appeared as a result of an increased desire for user generated content and the advent of Web 2.0. Even blogs are considered social media as they allow companies to have a voice with which they can speak on a personal level with their customers.
In addition to blogs there are the usual social networking sites and content communities such as YouTube and Flickr. According to an article published in the Business Horizons Journal in 2010 even collaborative projects such as Wikipedia and virtual worlds like World of Warcraft can be considered social.
So apparently it’s not just Facebook and Twitter, there are a whole world of social media possibilities out there. But while it’s all well and good being able to provide a space where users can create their own avatars and discuss the benefits of living a second life online, is there any value in these forms of social media for the companies providing them?
Of course there is always going to be the argument that any form of publicity or marketing is going to provide brand exposure but it’s hard to imagine a solid return on investment being made with some of the less popular forms of social media.
The more commonly used platforms such as Facebook are fairly strict when it comes to gambling advertisements, although these restrictions are much more lax than they were twelve months ago. This means that actually getting players to click through to an external gambling site is even more of a challenge than it already is.
Those in favour of social media list customer engagement and loyalty as two principal reasons for interacting heavily in social media. But as these can be done free of charge by creating a Facebook page and a Twitter feed there seems little point in developing your social media strategy much further.
Standing out with social media is becoming increasingly tricky meaning that getting creative with it is a necessity. Some operators are beginning to do this. Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has always enjoyed thinking outside of the box and has used Facebook in the ‘We Hear You’ advertising campaign. Requests made on the Paddy Power Facebook page have then been turned into television adverts and generated considerable controversy as well as attention.
Betfair have also taken the initiative and hired a team of comedians to write gags for their Twitter feed. This is a tactic which has seen considerable success with the Betfair Poker feed gaining more than 15,000 followers as well as traction with Stephen Fry – one of the most popular Twitterers there is. At the time of launch Betfair’s head of central online marketing described the tactic as somewhat of a social experiment.
It appears that anyone who wants to be successful in social media is going to have to conduct experiments of their own. Even if they do see success then they’re going to have to be prepared for numerous copycats as there’s no use for Copyscape when it comes to social media.
Everyone wants to tell us how important social media is to the gambling industry. This is highlighted by the fact that six of the nine IGA 2012 pre-conference workshops focused on the new saviour.
But while they tell us how important it is, few are able to describe how best to use it. Many in attendance at the IGA 2012 may leave the conference with a new sense of urgency with regards to a social media strategy but very few will know what theirs is going to consist of.
Most forms of online gambling are by nature fairly anti-social. Unlike land based gambling players are able to deposit, play until their heart is content and cash out without speaking to a single person. Then there’s the negative image surrounding gambling which may mean that many iGamers don’t want their friends and family to know that they’re gambling online.
These are challenges that few other industries face. With regards to advertising gambling is often grouped with alcohol and tobacco and quick looks at the social media advertising in those industries shows that there’s certainly no emerging strategic framework.
It has been suggested by many that there’s no need for social media in online gambling but with the potential in enterprises such as Facebook and Twitter it’s hard to ignore.
It’s more than likely that there won’t be any basic strategy that will allow iGaming companies to prosper in a social space. For affiliates that promote discussion Facebook may prove vital, poker operators with ambassadors may take to Twitter to engage their customers while for some simply a blog may suffice.
Currently there aren’t any iGaming companies that have found their perfect formula and as such taken the social world by storm. However, there are some making advances in the quest for a solid social strategy.
Top 5 iGaming Social Media Uses
- Paddy Power Facebook Page – 75,000 likes and 57,000+ talking about it
- Betfair Poker Twitter Feed – 15,800+ followers
- Team PokerStars – 202,200+ likes
- OnlineCasinosReview YouTube Channel – 86,000+ video views
- Bodog Malaysia – 10,000 likes