Why social media is non-negotiable in the modern iGaming industry?

Choose your networks wisely

Facebook is ubiquitous, with its 845 million users representing approximately 11 percent of the global population. Without exception, every social marketing plan should have Facebook activities at its core. However, there is a misconception that Facebook, and possibly Twitter are social media, and this is certainly not the case.

Although they are the two largest social networks, they are not the only ones for affiliates to consider. In some emerging gambling markets, Facebook is not the dominant network; for example, Google’s Orkut network has 66 million worldwide users most of whom stem from Brazil and India, and even Google+, which recently launched to mixed reviews, acquired 40 million users in its first few months, is still growing remarkably and will continue to gain importance as Google merges all of its services into one super social juggernaut.

Foursquare is having a remarkable impact and the latest social darling is Pinterest whose popularity amongst 18 to 34 year old upper income women should be of primary interest to bingo affiliates.

In short, having a Facebook page and Twitter account is not the same as having a social media campaign and success will be bom from understanding where your potential customers are and following them.

Understand how social media is impacting SERPs and PPC

Recently, Google has aggressively consolidated its product range by deep linking its social networks to the traditional search functionality. Independent of everything else in the social sphere, this has a dramatic effect on an affiliate’s business which is driven primarily by search. First came the incorporation of+1 functionality into the search algorithm, and in in January 2012, Google released ‘Search plus Your World’, a further development of social search. The feature, which is integrated into Google’s regular search as an opt-out feature, pulls references to results from Google+ profiles.

There are two reasons for Google’s dramatic moves in this regard. The first is to ensure importance and growth of its own social networks and the second is to improve search functionality, as this is where affiliates are victims of their own success. Google has incorporated user generated content into SERPs because it is harder to corrupt or manipulate than clever SEO tactics.

Prepare and listen

Before you launch your brand presence on social networks, check the availability of your vanity URL. Find one that’s simple, easy to remember and consistent across networks. Services such as Name Vine check domain names, Facebook and Twitter extensions instantly.

Once you have that sorted, start listening. There are social media engagement and monitoring tools such as Radian6 that offer incredibly useful services but when starting out, such costly products are not always necessary - instead use Twitter and Facebook search functions and spend time evaluating who is talking, what they are saying and, most importantly, what competitors and gambling operators are doing and how effective they are.

Social media is a two way conversation and listening to that conversation before joining in is singularly the most important step in starting a social media campaign.

Content: engagement, not broadcast

The old paradigm of creating a message and shouting it at the audience does not work in social campaigns, where the audience has a voice. In order to have success, affiliates must talk to the public rather than at them, and content should be relevant and timely.

• Proactive: deliver compelling content that serves customers needs before they even know it - don’t wait for the community to initiate the conversation.
• Systematic: create an editorial calendar so you know what you’re going to publish and when.
• Persistent: distribute content on a consistent regular schedule.
• Multichannel: engage in all touch points; establish a presence where the customers are likely to spend their time.
• Two-way: listen to the way the community responds to campaigns and messages.
• Relevant: any interesting or humorously original or shared/re-posted content has value, although the latter must be identified as shared.

Understand and maximise your Facebook EdgeRank

Having volume of fans/followers on Facebook is an inaccurate statistic as to the effectiveness of marketing. This is because your message will only be seen by a portion of fans; with this grouping being determined by Facebook’s own algorithm called EdgeRank.

EdgeRank = Affinity x Age x Type

• Affinity represents the strength of the relationship between you and the individual reader based on the direct relationship between both people, and the wider shared network.
• Age is the time since the item was posted. Newer is better.
• Type is the kind of item that has been posted - a news item, a comment, a ‘like’, etc. More authority is given to direct items, and less to comments; less still to likes.

To see what your fans engage with the most, and when to post it on Facebook, third-party services such as EdgeRank Checker work well to determine:

• Most effective day of the week to post content.
• Popular keywords that drive engagement.
• What type of media is best for your audience.
• How often to update.

Use the technologies available

Tools such as HootSuite allow you to publish once and distribute across multiple networks. You can integrate your Facebook page, Twitter account, Google+ page, Linkedln profile and other social networks in one easy-to-use interface.

Services like North Social and Pagemodo deliver the applications that most fan pages need. Most of these services provide a free version of some applications. This may be a good first step into the Facebook world if your budget is tight.

Use social plug-ins

The most underutilised free tools are Facebook and Google’s social plug-ins. Google’s +1 button is served globally over five billion times per day, and a new study from Gigya shows that users who visit third-party sites through Facebook Connect spend 50 percent more time on those sites and view twice as many pages.

Aside from use on third-party sites, social plug-ins can provide a deeper level of engagement, while driving traffic. It doesn’t matter how big or small your offering is, plug-ins are free to use and are a quick and easy way to market your brand or message through referral traffic.
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