Social Marketing and Strategies 2012 - FULL REPORT

1 July 2012

Social media has heralded a new era. It is very much the end of “business as usual” and the beginning of adaptive engagement. The incorporation of social media into business practices is now non-negotiable, yet it remains a medium that gambling companies are still, for the most part, just adjusting to. Some are actively pursuing social media strategies, to various degrees of success, while others are approaching the concept passively and reluctantly.

Being competitive in today’s global economy hinges on the ability to interact with consumers online.  Social networks have democratised information and empowered consumers. As a result, user networks are changing how customers refer products and services, and ultimately make decisions. The relationship between customers and business is changing and will continue to evolve as social media permeates our culture and society.

Social Media Marketing
Social media is still not a fully proven marketing tool for the gambling industry. However, many companies have now woken up to the fact that it needs to be part of their broader marketing and communications strategy.  The only public metric is the number of fans and followers, but this is a misnomer, a vanity figure. There needs to be a massive mindset change for the incorporation of social media, and not just within the marketing department. Social media is a corporate-wide phenomenon and the “norm” is significantly changed.

Though this form of marketing adds a new, sometimes misunderstood level of complexity, it also adds significant value:

• Brand awareness and resonance
• Brand reach
• A new understanding of the customer experience
• A high level of engagement with current and prospective customers
• Builds personal relationships
• Enhanced player experience
• Sentiment analysis
• Demand analysis
• An understanding of the social graph (community of friends) and the interest graph (community of focus)
• Corporate and brand popularity

Once you have a (growing) fan/follower base, the next step is to build relationships. The old standard of creating a message and shouting it at the audience does not work on social media. The audience now has a voice and in order to have success you must talk to them rather than at them – it’s all about engagement, not broadcast.

Beyond Marketing
Social media now impacts on every aspect of a corporation’s activities and having a narrow view of social media as a customer services exercise, or as simply a marketing and promotional environment, is not productive for a business today.
Incorporation of social media into a business strategy is not a zero-sum game: almost every aspect of the company is impacted and almost every aspect can benefit. That’s why forward-thinking companies are the ones that are applying social media across the enterprise. Users don’t think in terms of function or department and neither should companies.  It is now impossible to contain social media within a single department or management team, as the networks provide users with visible influence and a way of communicating which cuts across lots of organisational teams.  Each team should have the tools and systems that are relevant, and new metrics need to be added accordingly.

Many gambling companies are investing time and resource into social media, when the reality that much of it is done without the ability demonstrate any direct return on investment (ROI) in the traditional sense. Many other gambling companies are not investing in social media for precisely the same reasons.  Social media is an immensely communications tool in today’s world, and its function is to support your business goals.

Some experts argue that ROI is simply an equation which is a weak and incomplete way of looking at social media impact. Social media marketing and efforts are activities-based and don’t fit into the typical ROI equation; they have an indirect rather than a direct financial aspect. Yet, the gambling industry is one that has been entirely driven by clear, quantifiable and trackable metrics to date and many companies are finding it uncomfortable to be dealing with what is oftentimes soft