By Jim Kabrajee
While it was common a couple of years ago to view “customer engagement“ as just another marketing channel, with the access your customers have to your brand through mobile and Social Media, the power of balance has changed. As casino marketers recognize this growing power, we need to rethink all our marketing strategies and be ready to engage our players on every front, at every point of contact. We are well beyond using social media marketing as a bullhorn for marketing promotions. Today we need to build our casino brands through social media engagement strategies that not only enhance our marketing, but also reap additional benefits throughout the organization.
Before we begin, let’s talk about how we define customer engagement and how the most successful marketers do it. Engagement is an effect, a reaction, a connection, a response and an experience of players with one another and your casino. Social Media marketing in 2016 is about crafting brand experiences based on player insights and leveraging these insights to increase customer engagement. Our observation is that most casinos still use social media as a bullhorn, as a one-way message rather than crafting strategies that take advantage of the opportunities for connection, engagement and dialogue.
So how do the most successful marketers develop strong Social Marketing strategies? They start by making sure their overall casino brand translates into a social marketing brand. You’ve probably heard that the best Social Media programs employ brand “storytelling” and communicate with customers and prospects with engaging content. Well it’s not just a brand story for the marketing department – you need to look at multiple strategies that plug into that brand story and then make sure that every program, promotion, and public communication you deploy in social media adds something to that brand story.
And the brand storytelling is not just outward-facing, not just for your customers; the best ones are also integrated into an internal brand employment strategy for your employees and prospective employees. An internal brand strategy needs to be embedded in your corporate culture and influence all departments in the casino, not just marketing.
Here’s an interesting example of what I’m talking about.
Our client, Miami Valley Gaming is a racino located in Lebanon, Ohio. We opened in December 2013 and despite having four other properties, including full-service casinos, in the immediate vicinity we lead the market. We did this by differentiating ourselves by tapping into Ohio loyalty and pride. We created a set of fictional characters that Ohioans related to and enjoy. It centers on a fictional company called the “Lucky Buckeye Company” and the Buckeye is Ohio’s State symbol.
CREATES BRAND TRUST
Through the various media campaigns; TV, radio, social media, online marketing and Out-of-home the market enthusiastically embraced the brand. This brand is trusted and respected. It is seen as friendly, fun and progressive. Just what we needed in order to begin leveraging the storytelling into other non-marketing areas for the casino.
Miami Valley Gaming is not only competing for local customers but for local talented employees, we also needed to find a different way to approach recruiting to separate them from other casinos. To stand out in a crowded market, we realized Miami Valley Gaming needed a social recruiting strategy that leveraged the appropriate social property to recruit candidates with differing skill sets. Our approach needed to be engaging so applicants could learn the benefits of working at the casino and make the application process as seamless as possible.
What made this strategy a great success story is that MVG appreciates the importance to the community of the fictional brand. The Lucky Buckeye Company brand and characters have been present since MVG’s inception, and they knew that is was wise to continue the brand story with the characters that made it so meaningful to customers. Whenever people see the characters’ faces on billboards or on digital and social channels, they have an authentic connection to the characters which is unique within the gaming industry.
We wanted to extend that story by reaching out to prospective employees on Miami Valley Gaming’s social and digital properties and the MVG website to build their social community and promote MVG as a great employer and a great place to work. At the time of launch of the social recruiting strategy, Miami Valley Gaming was introducing a new character to be called Lucy. We showcased her recruitment process and Lucy applying for a role at the Lucky Buckeye Company. Miami Valley Gaming saw this as an opportunity to attract new employees and at the same time build their internal culture.
During the TV campaign when Lucy was joining the “Lucky Buckeye Company” as the new Lucky Buckeye Inspector, we ran a Facebook contest to not only introduce Lucy to the audience but also asked the audience to provide their own videos explaining why they should be the next Lucky Buckeye Inspector. This grew engagement with the brand and became an integral part of our employee acquisition strategy.
Miami Valley Gaming employees started to promote MVG’s social properties to their own base of friends and colleagues and had fun telling their stories about what it’s is like to work for MVG. The casino’s brand and reputation grew even stronger.
INCREASES CADIDATE POOL
Our goal was to increase the number of candidates applying at the casino. Since the inception of the social recruiting program in January 2015, Miami Valley Gaming is thrilled that their candidate pool has increased by 39 per cent and their patrons have Lucy, a new and beloved character to engage with.
It is evident that social recruiting has come of age due to a demand from both candidates and recruiters. Younger candidates want lots of insight into an organization’s culture before they are ready to investigate compensation and benefits. Our social strategy enabled Miami Valley Gaming to do so in a fun, engaging and most effectively a cost effective manner.
Engagement in social media channels illustrates that it is not only passive job seekers that you reach, but active recruitment activity is also acceptable by these communities. Today we are seeing more opportunities for candidates to share their CV’s on social platforms as more companies invest in recruiting tools and platforms designed to operate on social platforms.
Social media engagement is an ongoing hot topic for every brand and everyone is trying to integrate it into their marketing plans. Some brands make it look easy, but it isn’t. It takes lots of patience and, foremost, a social strategy that is rooted in the brand story.
The need to cultivate authentic relationships with your audiences has never been so important because the next post you share could be the one that lands you your next high roller, brand advocate or star employee. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to use that brand story to build an ongoing relationship through your HR department, Operations, and Player Services.