GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 13 - June 2010

Socialnetworking andthe iGaminglandscape By Adam van Vlaardingen Social networking is no longer just a pre- teen phenomenon for updating each oth- er’s current favorite MTV music videos; it’s part of our daily lives. Social network- ing has also hit the iGaming world, and the iGaming market stands to reap the rewards of this largelyuntapped, effective communication vehicle. Yet, evenwith so much hype surrounding the term “social media,” there remain large contingents of operators and affiliates who are reluctant toembrace themedium. Outwith theold and inwith thenew There are several reasons to operate on- line social networks as a principal source of communication. By transforming consumers into content- producers, operators and affiliates alike are able to leverage organic content and developbrandawareness onamass scale. By developing a feedback loop, not only are you encouraging opinion sharing, but youare increasing thedialogue surround- ingyourbrand. Promotingdiscussionand gettingconsumers involvedwillhelpbuild trust and recognitionof yourbrand. Social networking not only extends your reach, italsohasanadvantage inpotential immediacy of impact. An operator or af- filiate looking for feedback on a potential ideawill receive information significantly faster through social networking medi- ums than throughmore traditional forms of communication suchas e-mail. Social networking is a long-term project with long-term impact. Involvement in social media has a tremendous upside, but requires a significant investment of numerous resources to effectively and ef- ficiently implement. This investment of resources is what will truly impact your desired results, and the reality is that theseefforts aremeant tobe shared. The development of a following requires the involvement of a group of people. In order to inject personality, promote dis- cussion and receive feedback, a group of participantsneeds tomanage thedialogue and offer more personal responses. This long-term commitment will be a major factor inproducing long-term results. WhatHaveWeLearned? We are always learning new things about social networking as the medium is still growing in scope and scale. It is not an exact science, and that is what makes it so attractive to affiliates and operators who want to expand their communica- tion scope.Whatwehave learned so far is that social networking has a tremendous impact that is far-reaching.Dependingon which form of social networking is being used, it canbe effectively implemented as avarietyof tools. AcquisitionTool For operators searching for new affiliates, or affiliates seeking new players, vehicles like Twitter and Facebook can be excel- lent ways to acquire additional business. Effectively utilizing these mediums lets you avoid the “salesy” approach and al- lows you to focus on the appropriate tar- gets for your message. You can develop a Facebook Fan Page for your brand and promote offerings through it to gain ac- cess to a pool of individuals who prefer thismedium, or you can Tweet the latest promotion andgain the attentionof users on-the-go through themobile interface of Twitter. RetentionTool By developing a personal dialogue, op- erators and affiliates are able to increase rapport with their targetmarkets. This in turn leads to an increase in trust, which ultimately leads to retention. But reten- tion requires consistent care and atten- tion. Just likea relationshipwitha friend, social networking creates a bond that re- quires regular communication in order to retainstrong tiesamongoperator, affiliate andplayer. In this vein, it is important to remain consistent in your communica- tion, responding ina timelymanner toen- courage a flow of dialogue and to sustain interest. CRMTool By openly encouraging feedback, youwill undoubtedly encounter some negative criticism. The important thing to remem- ber is that if people are willing to bring up something negative, they are actively thinking of your brand and are looking for a solution. By monitoring this feed- back, responding with immediacy and addressing the issue, youareactively sup- porting your customers and developing your relationship with them. Eliminating the “cookie cutter” response and adding a personal touch issimplyoneway to regain the trust of customers thatmayhavebeen lost due to somethingentirelyavoidable. Although it may seem daunting at first, your involvement with social media will help support yourmarketing effortswhile opening up new opportunities that are presented through the use of these me- dia. According to a PewResearch Center surveyof individuals 18 years or older, al- Social Networking and the iGaming Landscape