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Social Excellence

3rd Annual Sherpie Award Winners Announced at G2E

Social Excellence

By now, it is no longer a question of if your casino is using social media—it is a matter of how well you are using it and how efficiently you can adjust to the ever-changing platforms. Recent evolutions, such as the switch to Facebook Timeline and the colossal spike in Pinterest users, have caused a fundamental shift in the way casinos interact with and engage their customers every day.

Masterminds—the originators of the Sherpie Awards—teamed up with Global Gaming Business magazine for the third year running to narrow down the very best examples of social media marketing from over 100 casinos across the country, in 10 prestigious categories. According to Masterminds CEO Nancy Smith, “this was by far the most advanced competition of any Sherpie Awards to date. Casino marketers are really stepping up their game when it comes to social media – competition was intense.”

Ryan Leeds, Masterminds’ VP of strategy, announced this year’s Sherpie Winners during the 2012 Social Media Boot Camp held at the Global Gaming Expo on October 1. Eric Peterson, director of new media at Caesars Entertainment, was pleased to take home the Best In Show Sherpie Award and shared details of his case study with the highly engaged audience. In addition, two other Sherpie winners, Noah Besheer from Pinnacle Entertainment and Brian Best from Boyd Gaming Corporation, presented their award-winning case studies for “Best Use of Twitter” and “Best Multi-Property Branding Initiative” respectively.

Thanks to everyone who attended, and congratulations to all of this year’s Sherpie winners.

2012 Sherpie Social Media Award Winners

Best App / Interactive Game:
Monte Carlo Resort and Casino – “What’s your VIP?”

Monte Carlo Resort and Casino launched a month-long celebration entitled “National VIP Month,” which gave guests of the resort an opportunity to live like Vegas VIPs. To go along with this campaign, Monte Carlo created an interactive Facebook application in which fans could upload and customize a photo with a VIP phrase and an eclectic selection of props, and then submit it for the opportunity to join Monte Carlo as an official VIP. This not only engaged Monte Carlo’s Facebook community in a fun way; it also reinforced the casino’s “We’re all VIPs” brand.

Best Facebook Promotion:

Foxwoods Resort Casino – “Anything But Ordinary”

To support its fully integrated “Anything But Ordinary” campaign, Foxwoods developed a Facebook sweepstakes, which used gaming-inspired messaging and encouraged fans to discover their inner King, Queen, Jack, Ace or Joker. Fans could enter to win one of five different packages, each of which corresponded with a different card and was crafted to suit different tastes. This impressive and in-depth promotion reached over 10,000 unique entries, a 46 percent growth in Facebook fans and nearly 143 million Facebook impressions.

Best Use of Social Media for Public Relations:
Isle of Capri Casino Hotel Boonville – “Farmer’s Pick Buffet”

Isle of Capri Casino Hotel Boonville successfully produced an integrated campaign to promote the grand opening of its Farmer’s Pick Buffet. From recipe and food blogger contests to well-received YouTube time-lapse construction videos, Isle of Capri’s customers were kept engaged and excited from start to finish. The buffet’s Twitter campaign reached nearly 3,000 accounts and made almost 5,000 impressions, and engagement on their Facebook page increased 59 percent. Traffic to the buffet section on the casino’s website also increased by 64 percent. This all translated into notable results upon the buffet’s opening, with a 9 percent increase in covers at the restaurant and a 16 percent increase in revenue.

Best Use of Video:
Pechanga Resort & Casino

Pechanga Resort & Casino’s overall use of video has continually delivered a human experience that its customers have grown to love and trust. Ryan Chartrand, Pechanga’s humorous, personable community manager, often appears in the videos and shows viewers that the casino isn’t just a faceless corporation, but a fun, welcoming atmosphere. From slot debuts to celebrity interviews and event coverage, Pechanga’s collection of videos is as entertaining as it is engaging. With over 650,000 video views, Pechanga knows that producing memorable, sticky content is the fuel of social media.

Best Use of Twitter:
River City Casino

River City Casino embraces Twitter as a two-way conversation and a customer service channel. As opposed to tweeting an endless stream of promotional content, River City uses a strategic blend of humor, wit and personality to bring a human element to its tweets. The casino frequently mentions, replies to and retweets to its tight-knit community of 1,200-plus followers. River City has truly added a personal touch to their social endeavors that makes followers feel appreciated and understood.

Best Use of Instagram:
Revel Resorts, Atlantic City – “Revel Nightlife”

In the last year, photo sharing has become a very popular and engaging method of social sharing. Revel Nightlife, which opened this year, is not only an early adopter of Instagram, but it is already seeing much success. With almost 3,000 followers and over 100 “Likes” on any given upload, Revel Nightlife manages to effectively appeal to a younger demographic by posting appealing photos of their nightlife, concerts and entertainers, or just light-hearted quotes. In fact, its #revel hashtag currently houses over 20,000 photos.

Best Use of Pinterest:
Barona Resort & Casino

Barona Casino in San Diego, California, is at the top of the leader board for being one of the first casinos to take advantage of Pinterest. They use the network to show off their beautiful property, the depth and breadth of amenities, and to show what’s happening in the surrounding area, giving users all the more reason to consider Barona as their next escape. With over 100 followers and almost 400 PINs, Barona has shown that Pinterest is another way to target its older, primarily female demographic.

Best Online-Meets-Offline Promotion:
Pechanga Resort & Casino – “Grease Slot Machine World Debut”

As the first casino in the world to debut the new Grease slot machine, Pechanga used both traditional and new media to transport fans from their living rooms to the casino floor. With a wildly successful YouTube teaser video that reached over 14,000 views, and a Facebook promotion unlocking Grease-related social deals just for their fans, Pechanga made certain to excite customers to be first to play the new slot. Pechanga also planned a launch party exclusively for Facebook fans and special invitees, where models dressed as Grease characters to snap photos and give away Grease-themed prizes. Pechanga saw an increase in hotel occupancy days prior to the slot’s official launch, and reach the casino’s Facebook page grew to 2.4 million.

Best Multi-Property Branding Initiative:
Boyd Gaming – “BConnected Social”

Boyd Gaming and its nationwide network of casino entertainment properties implemented an innovative customer loyalty program entitled BConnected Social, which rewards players for actively engaging in social activities. With over 600,000 registered users, customers can earn Social Points simply by using the BConnected online and mobile platforms, sharing offers and events on their favorite social networks or checking in to any Boyd Gaming casino using Facebook Places or Foursquare. Since the program’s launch, Boyd Gaming has collectively received an 83 percent increase in “Likes,” 70 percent increase in engagement and 93 percent increase in overall impressions on Facebook. Not to mention, the website saw the highest traffic in its history, with over 700,000 visits in the beginning month alone.

Best In Show:
Caesars Entertainment – “Total Rewards”

In preparation for the launch of Escape to Total Rewards, Caesars planned an integrated 90-day plan, in which they relied heavily on social media as a central hub to expand the reach and awareness of their efforts. The campaign encouraged customers to escape from the mundane and create their own totally rewarding experiences.

In addition to a tremendous amount of traditional support, Caesars strategized its approach across Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, video livestreams and online games to spread the word. They generated buzz via influencer and blogger outreach and garnered endorsements from several influential celebrities on their social networks. They also ran a Picture Your Escape Facebook Photo Contest, and they hosted an Escape to Total Rewards interactive online game on a dedicated website.

Total Rewards membership increased 20 percent. Collectively, Caesars’ Facebook fan base increased by 93 percent. The @Total_Rewards Twitter campaign reached over 70 million impressions. Most importantly, though, Caesars strengthened its relationship with customers by showing they cared what their players wanted at a time when casino-goers were seeking more from loyalty programs.

Masterminds is an award-winning, full-service advertising agency specializing in the travel, leisure and gaming consumer. Clients include Pinnacle Entertainment, Penn National Gaming, IGT, and Pocono Mountains CVB. Masterminds’ Social Sherpa division provides social media strategic planning, community management, custom app development. Visit