Social Media Success: One casino’s social media winner

by | Nov 14, 2014 | Branding, Digital Strategy, Gaming, Marketing, Social Media

Many companies I come across struggle with the role social media should play in their overall marketing mix and don’t properly align it with their traditional marketing activities. The fact is the online world in which we live, work and play is becoming more social. For those in the gaming industry, building a strong presence with social media is now more important than ever.

For companies new to the medium, jumping into social media can be a challenging and time-consuming process and every organization needs the right strategy to fit their own business needs. Rather than speak in general terms about how companies might do this, along with the pitfalls they might encounter along the way, I want to focus on a campaign Marshall-Fenn Communications recently developed for Miami Valley Gaming in Ohio. This case study will help illustrate how social media can help promote the brand and enhance the on-property experience while acting as a support mechanism for more traditional brand activities.

Miami Valley Gaming
First, a little background on the client. Miami Valley Gaming opened its doors December 12, 2013 bringing a world-class gaming, racing and entertainment complex to Southwest Ohio. It features 1,600 of the gaming industry’s newest video lottery terminals; four restaurants and two bars; a racing simulcast centre, broadcasting races from around the country; and a racetrack.

Ohio is a competitive arena for gaming, and one that is becoming quickly saturated. By the end of 2014, Ohio will have 11 casinos vying for customer loyalty. We know from our experience in the industry that gaming is a business where customer loyalty is paramount, and differentiating among the competition is key. So how did we go about doing this for Miami Valley Gaming?

Ohio is the Buckeye State. And, as luck would have it, the Buckeye is a symbol of luck — a fact too good to ignore when we were developing concepts for the launch of Ohio’s newest casino.

The Lucky Buckeye Co. is a fictional company whose sole purpose is to ensure every Buckeye is lucky. We imagined every facet of this company as if it were a living, breathing brand. What’s the aesthetic? How many employees? And who would work there?

To bring the company to life, we created two central employees: ‘The Manager’ and ‘Richard,’ to convey their story and tell us what the opening of Miami Valley Gaming meant. From their perspective, it was essential that everyone had a lucky buckeye.

We endowed them with quirky, endearing personalities, driving our audience back to Miami Valley Gaming, lucky buckeyes in hand. Not only did the campaign prove to be a huge success in driving traffic, we exhausted the entire supply of buckeyes in Ohio!

A campaign of this kind is ripe for a social media play. Once a story like The Lucky Buckeye Co. is created, its extension into social channels becomes a matter of adapting the concept based on established guidelines. Again, it simply became a question of: What would the Lucky Buckeye Company do in social media if it was a real company?

Knowing social media was going to be integral, we created 12, 15-second videos based on buckeye-related topics that featured the Manager and Richard at the MVG property. These videos were meant for online viewing – within the Miami Valley Gaming website as well as select social channels. We then developed a communication and content strategy to support the vignettes and focused on developing relevant content themes and topics for our audiences. Specific content was developed for acquisition and retention purposes and was designed to be shared to help create a sense of community. The goal is to get people to the property to experience what Miami Valley Gaming is all about.

To get ourselves into market, we developed a three-month content calendar for Miami Valley Gaming and selected specific social media platforms to communicate with our audiences.

We wanted to connect with fans of the property via promotional, entertainment and jackpot winners’ posts, with the ultimate goal of driving traffic to the property. We developed unique content to support the vignettes and the Lucky Buckeye Company. This included posting questions, fun facts, and engaging fans while linking to the Lucky Buckeye page on the Miami Valley Gaming website.

We leveraged Twitter primarily for timely updates on promotions, entertainment, recent winners, and upcoming events. Our team created original content to share via Twitter that is lighthearted and fun, while driving users to the Lucky Buckeye page on the Miami Valley gaming website.

Instagram is a great vehicle to promote the social vignettes as the 10-15 second video aligns perfectly with Instagram’s time allotment. We used images of Lucky Buckeye promotions, upcoming events, and Miami Valley Gaming amenities to connect with customers to help build our community. Instagram photos could also be posted directly to Facebook and Twitter to help round out our social strategy.

It’s important to mention that we also leveraged hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to allow the content to be more easily discovered by new followers. In addition, trending hashtags can be used in social media efforts in order to piggyback off of what people are already talking about, which allows the content to reach a wider audience. Video content is becoming increasingly more important for social media use. Our Lucky Buckeye Vignettes were an important promotional vehicle leveraged to engage fans on a number of levels. They also provided an opportunity to increase social reach.

To create additional awareness for the vignettes we have implemented a pay per click (PPC) advertising campaign to drive traffic to our Lucky Buckeye page. We leveraged Facebook media to target specific audience segments as well as geographic locations important to Miami Valley Gaming. The Google Display Network and YouTube promoted search results are driving traffic to our Lucky Buckeye page on the website. We also leveraged Google Engagement Ads which are new, creative ad formats that help connect and engage with consumers in a targeted manner. The beauty of using PPC is that it’s measurable and allows us to test and optimize based on the data. It is also highly targeted which, in a competitive market like Ohio, is important for our client.

Closing the Loop
Our intention with this campaign was to showcase the high quality and exciting gaming experience Miami Valley offers. We chose to take a holistic approach with our marketing efforts using social media to close the loop. What I mean by this is that our social media wasn’t out there as a stand-alone. It was connected to a larger campaign and supported our traditional advertising. We are continuing to produce engaging content and promoting it on specific social platforms to drive people to our Lucky Buckeye site, present an offer, capture data and drive them on property. By having a bit of fun, we are able to create an emotional connection with our audience and helping Miami Valley differentiate themselves.