And the argument continues... can social media drive converting traffic for online gaming?

THE ANSWER IS 'yes', even though the methods are different to conventional ways of driving traffic to online gaming sites? Clearly, no traffic will ever have the same value as organic SEO traffic where potential players have searched for keywords and phrases relating to online gaming - anyone who successfully finds something by specifically searching for it will go on to be the highest depositors with longer player lifetimes.

That said, social media has two key elements that both need to be worked accordingly: mass and social interaction. There's no denying that out of the 750 million people currently registered as Facebook users, one or two are destined to be interested in online gaming. However, Facebook being a comfort zone between people and their relationship to others, anyone marketing on the social platform has to completely understand what makes something go viral in this environment and how people are influenced by those within their personal networks.

There are many statistics floating around the webosphere'. All speak about the numbers regarding shared content how valuable a like' is to a brand, how many people are beginning to transact within Facebook, the value of a real review and how customer service efforts from Tan' pages are beneficial to brands. But in short, it's all about trust and comfort.

In a recent poll carried out by the Science Museum in London, having access to Facebook came fifth in a list of things that people could not live without. This was ahead of flushing a toilet. I'm not sure if that's a reflection on the popularity of Facebook or the British population, but it does show just how high people rank Facebook and what an important part of everyday life it has become.

But how to capture the right audience?

Targeting via Facebook ads does have flexibility, but it's very difficult to get into the right target groups with the right offering and a succinct message. Instead of the direct approach, gaming acquisition should be a two or even three pronged effort.

Fan capture

The first is to capture fans. This can be achieved with relative ease depending on what you are offering people to become fans of. Sweepstakes and contests have already proved successful as an acquisition tool for brand fan pages. Along these lines, a gaming brand can create a method of engagement that would appeal to their target audience but is not a direct 'buy now' offering. It's a subtler approach.

Social interaction

Step two would be to begin social interaction. Put your brand in front of your fans, but don't just pound them
with endless messages to deposit. Answer questions, introduce yourself and give your fans reasons to introduce themselves in return. In short, be social. Invite your existing customers to become fans and share their experiences. Word-of-mouth is really the crux of marketing on Facebook.

Create a method to capture names and emails. Now that Facebook pages use iFrames, creating lead capture within your Facebook page that sends leads directly to your CRM system is not a complicated task (see me for details).

Build an 'off Facebook' list in parallel to building your brand's social presence. Have a complete social marketing strategy and understand the differences between traditional and social marketing. Understanding what makes people share some items and discard others will also help you to better understand what to present to the followers and fans of your brand on Facebook.

New era

We are living in an era of recommendation and reviews. In a recent article on the Mashable website, the following stats were released in relation to businesses with a brand presence on Facebook:

- 56 percent of consumers said they are more likely to recommend a brand to a friend after becoming a fan on Facebook.
- 51 percent of consumers said they are more likely to buy a product since becoming a fan on Facebook.
- 78 percent of consumers who 'like' brands on Facebook said they 'like' fewer than ten brands.

The article continued to assert that it's crucial, when sharing information with brand fans, to make the content compelling, the marketing messages subtle and not to release so many updates that it clogs a user's newsfeed. Users are quick to 'unlike' a brand. The same survey reported that 81 percent of fans unlike the brand when they feel that they are being bombarded with overwhelming marketing messages.

Facebook marketing agency, Social Code, has also released data regarding Facebook advertising. Over a ten month period, the agency analysed four million pieces of data collated from 50 million client companies across a spectrum of industries.

The data released offers the following insight:

• Facebook users over the age of 50 are 28.2 percent more likely to click an advertisement than 18 to 29 year-old users.
• Women aged 50 and older are even more likely to click advertisements, at a rate of 31.2 percent higher than young adults.
• The gap between the rate at which men aged 50 or older click advertisements is much narrower than women, representing only a 16 percent difference from their younger counterparts.
• Older Facebook users are nine percent less likely to click the 'like' button on an advertisement.
• Overall, men are 2.2 percent more likely to click 'like' than women.
• The like' rate for men over the age of 50 is 11 percent lower than younger males, and nine percent lower than people from all age groups.

It's important to remember that these figures are based on paid advertising and that paid advertising on Facebook is only 50 percent of the way to market a brand properly when utilising social interactions. For a truly successful campaign, offer advice, tips, information, promotions, even jokes that would encourage your brand followers to share, retweet and comment.

The first stage in all of this is getting people to 'like' your brand. Another way of doing this, even away from the Facebook environment, is adding social plug-ins to your site. Interact with your existing users directly from your gaming software and website. There are many social plug-ins that can be added directly to your existing offering. People can 'like' your brand, comment and interact using a choice of different plug-ins. There are even statistics available to measure these interactions using the Facebook open graph code which is universally available.
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