Golden Whale Marketing

Social Media Marketing During A Casino Crisis

The casino industry finds itself in the middle of unprecedented times. Everything we used to be tasked with as casino marketers (drive attendance to that casino promotion, focus on increasing floor traffic) is everything we are NOT supposed to do. Casino marketing departments all over the United States and the world are in meeting after meeting after meeting, asking themselves the all important question – what the HECK do we do now?!

And more importantly – is it even appropriate to “market” during a crisis?

So I reached out to my network to see how everyone else was handling the situation. I talked to Andrea Feehan right away, as she is a fellow social media nerd and is also Paid Media Project Manager at Nordstroms. Knowing Andrea is based out of Seattle, I knew she would be a few weeks ahead of us in California and could shed light on what was to come. Her insights were invaluable, almost like looking into our future. A future which would be at our marketing doorstep in two weeks time. Based on her invaluable insights, I was able to put together a social media plan.

There are a few rules, when in the middle of a crisis:

#1) NEVER utilize a catastrophic, terrible situation as a marketing opportunity. Anything lighthearted or commercially driven will seem suddenly inappropriate and inauthentic in the social media feed, and will backfire swiftly.  In order to show that as a business you still have a heart and a soul, stick to posts showing how you are giving back to the community and helping in whatever way you can. Whether that’s sharing COVID-19 resources with your community, or tagging the local food bank to show your support for local non-profits who are helping those in need, this is the only kind of content that will gain ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ during a time when we all just want to see some good, heartwarming news for once. And EVERYONE can create their own good news – the opportunities to give back and donate are endless.

#2) Assume your business is the last thing on anyone’s mind. Know that what your customers are dealing with right now is more important than your event or what you’re selling, so your ad is not going to get any love. Unless of course, that ad follows rule #1 above. 

#3) Remember that our social media feed is full of terrible, bad news.  Now more than ever, people could really use to see GOOD positive news related to the current situation – such as a food donation, businesses joining together to help each other or their employees, shifting operations online in order to protect the health of their community, literally doing ANYTHING to increase health and happiness of those around them. I personally had a casino client make a large food donation to help the local community and the post broke engagement records. That’s the kind of positive PR coupled with affordable awareness we strive to achieve all year long – it just so happens now is the most appropriate time to go all-in with your community relations strategy.

#4) Don’t go dark. Media streaming and social media consumption has already increased drastically, as customers are forced to find entertainment from home. On social media we have a real opportunity to connect with our audience in a way we never have before. It’s easy for the customer to put a casino in the “big, heartless, greedy business” category, and anyone who works in social media knows exactly what I’m talking about. We see such accusatory comments over and over again on social, from disgruntled guests whose last trip to the casino was not a lucky one. Right now, we have a captive audience that is more willing than ever to engage with us in a deeper and more meaningful way – the trick is to make DEEP and MEANINGFUL content. In other words, truly heartwarming content. The casino who does this, wins.

I recently read a great article by Julia Carcamo on GGB News. Please read the article here, it is excellent.  In the article she says: 

“Stay connected with customers. If ever social media will prove it’s worth to our industry, it will be now. Holding your customer’s hand in a “we’re going to get through this together” manner could be your secret ingredient. Utilizing digital marketing channels to create conversations with customers can allow you to harness one of the most powerful marketing tools you can have: word of mouth. This is also a great time to test posts to enhance your ability to work with the algorithm that favors brands that are truly engaged with their fans.”

She’s right. At no time in history can I think of a more important time to utilize social media and to connect with our customers on a very real level, to show what we stand for as a brand. Now that there are no slot tournaments to push or shows to promote, all we have left is brand content. 

So how do you pivot from the typical promotional casino marketing materials, to ‘brand’ pieces that feel 100% non-promotional or self serving…

I like to think of ‘push marketing’ versus ‘pull marketing’ in this case.

Traditional marketing is ‘push marketing’ – you have an advertising message and you ‘push’ it out on all the channels. This was basically how all marketing operated on all channels, for a very long time. And then social media came along. Now when we push out a message, the audience can talk right back… and they expect a speedy, authentic response. 

‘Pull marketing’ is the opposite of ‘push’ marketing. Instead of us deciding the message and pushing it out, instead we pull… we ask the audience what they want from us and how they view us… And we listen. We respond. We do more of what they want to hear about, and less of what they don’t. We focus on their needs instead of our own. 

And that is exciting because it means as a marketer is today’s digital age, we can truly connect with our customers and learn what makes them tick (without a spendy survey). And because the interaction with our customers is now a two-way conversation, during times of crisis it’s our turn to listen. It is our time to ask the questions we should be asking our customers, so we can improve and pivot. Now is the time to learn how our customers actually view our brand and what part we play in their lives. Let’s let our customers lead the conversation for once, and we follow. In a crisis, it’s time to pull (each other up) and not push.