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Forget Polished Graphics for Social Media Marketing

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Why pictures of your players will drive more social engagement

Why do people go on social media? Most would say that it is to consume content. Sure, connecting with family and friends is nice too, but that doesn’t drive the billions of dollars in revenue required to keep these companies running.

As marketers, knowing that people go on social media to consume content is a given. However, we often forget to ask ourselves the far more important follow-up questions:

  • why does our target guest use social media?
  • what do they expect or demand from their experience?

While I’m not going to dive into the minutiae of what the answers to those questions are and how they can vary from one property to another, I will tell you that the one thing that no user wants as part of their experience is your marketing graphics.

Why one-of-a-kind creative underwhelms

We spend quite a bit of time collaborating to create content with our casino marketing teams, graphic designers, content writers, videographers, ad agencies, and every stakeholder who gets to review creative content. Once the image or video has been approved and we have a polished piece of creative, we can begin to publish.

We order the images and videos formatted for the appropriate marketing channels for casinos and proceed to update our websites, digital signage, posters, slot toppers and billboards, and schedule posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google My Business, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and everywhere else that we publish content. After spending so much time and effort creating all this content, it is natural, and very understandable, to want to publish everywhere and sit back and hope for excellent results.

Unfortunately, all too often after we publish this one-of-a-kind piece of creative content on social media, we are often underwhelmed by the response from our audience. We may need to put some advertising dollars behind a boosted post or ad in order to expand the reach. This scenario is one that we have seen many times with casinos all across the country.

Marketers see far less interaction and engagement with these polished images and videos than from organic content, like jackpot pictures. We are amazed to see the picture of Marge B. from Middleton, Tennessee, smirking as she clasps a large check after winning a $1,400 Jackpot playing CATS, reach more people than our beautiful promotional flyer that took three weeks to approve.

Why is it that a jackpot picture outperforms the polished graphic design work?

People tend to respond better to organic and REAL content. Real images and videos of real people doing real things. This is not to say that our efforts are unwarranted on the creative content. Rather, it goes back to what I mentioned at the beginning of this article. People go online to consume content, and they expect it to be organic and relatable, not blatant advertising. This type of creative is much more tolerable on digital signage, fliers, etc., because when guests visit our properties, they expect to be informed about everything that is going on. Their expectations are different, and that requires using different types of content. Our thinking should be the same when it comes to social media.

Look, we need to have our brochures and fliers for the upcoming promotions and events with all the pertinent details available for our guests. But, in the context of social media, we should be spending more time publishing organic pieces of content. Things that are not 100% polished and perfect. Use your jackpot pictures, take a boomerang of a bartender mixing a drink or a server delivering an order. Spend some time walking the property and creating content by taking pictures and videos that you can utilize later when content is a bit light and you need something to go up. People using social media are interested in keeping it real.

Most properties that I talk to about social media strategy are immediately concerned about getting this type of content, but it really doesn’t have to be as complicated as a lot of people think.

Do you have a member of your team skilled in videography and photography? This might be a good opportunity to identify some talent that can help create and gather content internally. If you don’t have someone like that, most modern smartphones can make anyone look like an award-winning photographer if you download the right apps and spend time familiarizing yourself with their capabilities.

You may need another department’s help sourcing content.

If that’s the case and communication or execution has been challenging, I would encourage setting a meeting to discuss the task at hand, then walk them through your expectations and offer some suggestions for improving the content and communication workflow. Work together to develop a more comprehensive strategy that sounds reasonable to both teams. During that process, take the time to help everyone understand why you are asking for their help, and emphasize the importance of their work. People want to feel like a part of something, and by demonstrating the value of being a part of the content collection process, you will be very pleased with what your newly empowered team will help deliver to your audience.

Some properties are concerned with how company policy, internal controls, and regulatory restrictions may impact their ability to capture this kind of content.

All are valid concerns, but the reality of the modern casino is that almost every guest (or every guest) is walking around with a phone in their pocket capable of taking pictures, recording audio, and shooting video. Advances in modern casino security continue to work at keeping your floor secure, and your regulatory body may be accepting of changes to outdated photography policies, provided that they understand the purpose and are included in the process. Their job, and the purpose of these policies, is one of risk management, which we marketers tend to disrupt on occasion. We want to be sure that our property can continue to support and enforce a fair and safe gaming environment. Before undertaking a plan to curate more first-person organic content from your casino floor, reach out to your regulatory team and include them in the process every step of the way. This collaboration will help create a more cohesive approach for capturing all the rich, dynamic, organic content that exists on the casino gaming floor.

Making a commitment to capturing and using authentic and organic content in your social media casino marketing is a proven strategy capable of providing you and your guests with a number of solutions to poignant problems.

You need rich and cost-effective content to promote the unique value propositions of your brand to your guests, followers, and potential guests. Organically sourced content is capable of accomplishing those things. Your guests, followers, and potential guests need content that doesn’t make them regret their decision to use social media and to follow your brand. They use social media to consume content, but they expect to be entertained, enlightened, and educated during the process. Organically sourced content is capable of accomplishing all of those things as well.

74% of people use social media as a tool to research and inform purchasing decisions.

Competition for the entertainment dollar is fierce; it always has been, and it always will be. In response, casinos all over the country have vowed to provide the highest possible level of guest service by anticipating and catering to our guest’s every need, and to hold their opinions in very high regard. Isn’t it time that we made the same commitment to our guests online? If our commitment to guest service doesn’t extend to how those people interact with our brand online and the type of experience that they have with our content, then our commitment to guest service does not go far enough. In today’s noisy world, one of the most precious things that a guest can give us, besides their money, is their attention. It’s time we start taking that seriously.

Justin Shank

Justin Shank