Social media continues to have a significant impact on casino marketing communications, and for good reason. It brings together thousands of casino enthusiasts and their favorite gaming brands 24/7, 365 days a year.
Nancy Smith, CEO of Masterminds, the originators of the Sherpie Awards, says, “The experimentation phase is ending. Critical mass is being built in social media communities, and casinos are now creating specific strategies for these channels to enhance brand awareness, improve customer service, generate leads and increase brand affinity.”
For the 2nd annual Sherpie Awards, Masterminds partnered with Global Gaming Business to narrow down the best of the best from over 100 casinos across the country. Ryan Leeds, Masterminds’ VP of strategy, announced the Sherpie Award winners during the Social Media Boot Camp held at this year’s Global Gaming Expo on October 3. He pointed out that this year’s winners engaged their audiences in innovative ways that kept their customers coming back for more, both online and on-property.
Following this year’s announcement, four of the Sherpie winners, Ryan Chartrand from Pechanga Resort & Casino, Noah Besheer from River City Casino, Miiko Mentz from the Cosmopolitan and Eric Peterson from Caesars Entertainment, were on hand to present their case studies to an appreciative crowd of approximately 80 casino marketers.
Congratulations to all of the winners this year.
Best App / Interactive Game: Pechanga Resort & Casino – ‘Slot Wars’
In Pechanga’s latest social gaming go-round, called “Slot Wars,” Facebook fans were given a chance to design their own slot machines and battle each other for the highest score. This Facebook game not only got fans talking about the casino’s primary product; it engaged them for long periods of time and got them sharing the experience with their friends. As a result, players significantly increased their slot play on-property and had more positive feelings about the Pechanga brand.
Best Social PR Stunt: Tropicana Casino & Resort – ‘That’s Bull!’
On April Fools Day, Tropicana marketers shocked their Facebook fans with a fake picture of a bull standing in the middle of their casino. Through engaging posts and a partnership with a local entertainment weekly, they created a lot of buzz for their brand and upcoming rodeo, receiving over 45,000 impressions on Facebook alone. They kept the conversations going with additional Facebook photos showing a cute costumed bull making various on-property appearances.
Best Online-Meets-Offline Promotion: River City Casino – ‘Hide & Go Eat’
River City Casino leveled up its social interaction by creating a scavenger hunt involving 20 double-sided paper coins hidden throughout the property. The casino’s Facebook fans stepped away from their computers and came into the casino in search of the gold coins, each worth dinner for two at 1904 Steakhouse. This hide-and-seek promotion not only created awareness for the restaurant, but also bridged the gap between online and on-property engagement.
Best Use of Facebook Connect: Mohegan Sun – ‘Shine Maker’
Mohegan Sun’s use of Facebook Connect, the “Shine Maker,” lets you invite your friends to a user-generated experience where you customize your own “Shining Moment” with just a few clicks. Your selections lead to a short video catered specifically to you, showing the excitement that waits for you at Mohegan Sun. The Connect platform makes sharing the video on Facebook and Twitter a breeze, spreading word of the casino’s brand even further across the web.
Best Viral Video Campaign: MGM Grand Las Vegas – ‘You Decide’
MGM Grand’s YouTube campaign uses annotations to let you decide at a single click whether the characters will have a good experience or a bad one. These ads keep the viewer engaged from start to finish, and provide an exclusive room rate deal at the end of the “Good” video, which is sharable on all social networks. The choose-your-adventure style of these ads helped MGM develop stronger brand recognition and engagement, while achieving a “viral” status of over 200,000 views.
Best Multi-Property Branding Initiative: Caesars Entertainment – ‘No Resort Fees’
Caesars Entertainment went viral with its stand against resort fees at all nine of its Vegas properties. After a crowd of angry showgirls protested on the Strip, #NoResortFees and #AngryShowgirls trended locally on Twitter. The casino brand also hosted a user-generated video contest where fans could voice their opinions. By encouraging its fans to talk about the “No Resort Fees” campaign, Caesars sparked an impressive amount of engagement among its social media community.
Best Use of Twitter: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas uses Twitter for what it’s truly meant to be: a two-way conversation with consumers, and a vehicle for customer service. This casino thoughtfully caters its tweets to suit the cultured interests of its followers, a group it calls “the curious class.” The Cosmopolitan’s social appeal comes from tweeting a distinct balance of personable interactions, VIP deals and interesting tidbits that has earned it over 31,000 followers to date.
Best Use of Geo-Location Platforms: Caesars Entertainment – ‘The Great Race to Rewards’ and ‘Top Guest’
After Caesars’ success with the geo-location platform “Top Guest,” Caesars Entertainment created its own geo-location promotion centered around its Total Rewards program called “The Great Race to Rewards.” Users racked up points and earned prizes by “checking in” and interacting with the app’s easy-to-use mobile site. The best part was that there was a little something to win for everyone. This kept players engaged—both online and on-property—in hopes of winning more prizes.
Best in Show: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas created a cohesive, multi-platform social media campaign that worked because it focused on one key target audience deemed “the curious class.” The casino catered its tweets, status updates, YouTube uploads and contests on Flickr and Foursquare to this social media community, making them feel exclusive and valued. By interacting with its audience beyond the realm of self-promotion, the Cosmopolitan humanized its brand voice and gained a massive, actively engaged following before the casino doors were even open.
Masterminds is an award-winning, full-service advertising agency specializing in the travel, leisure and gaming consumer. Gaming clients include MGM Resorts International, Pinnacle Entertainment, Penn National Gaming and IGT. As a leader in social media marketing for the gaming industry, Masterminds offers social media consulting and training. Their goal is to build a social media competency and infrastructure within their clients’ marketing departments. They develop brand strategies, custom applications, acquisition promotions and engagement tactics for casinos across the country.