Having reviewed the winning Romero Awards this year and for several years now, I can say with confidence that constructive creativity is finding its way into the digital space with increasing frequency. As Amy Fanter, a marketing writer at Odds-On Promotions who is also one of our judges, put it: “The most impressive thing to me:  I cannot believe how much more amazing social media promos have become... actual measurement tied to floor revenue!!!  I truly see the mind of John [Romero] and the foresight of Dennis [Conrad] in how these awards will continue to elevate the industry.”

Progress on the social media marketing front in particular was on evidence at another conference earlier this year, the National Indian Gaming Association’s annual tradeshow. Here’s a couple of snippets from MaryEllen Gibson, social media manager, Pala Casino Spa and Resort:

Social casino: “When we launched mypalacasino.com in December, we started with paid social marketing on Facebook as well as e-mail marketing. The great thing about the social casino is that it brought us users who weren’t involved in our social platform before; new users to our Facebook page and new gamers to the platform. We had a strong social media platform before we introduced this app, so it only helped us grow it. You can’t send them to an empty space. In digital, if someone isn’t comfortable the first time, they pull it off their phone and good luck ever getting them to come back. Their first experience has to be a great experience.

“We’re not looking for world domination. What we’re looking for is to engage our guests when they’re not on our property. When they do that, they feel like they’re still gaining rewards with us, and when they’re on property, they’re able to earn points to play the (social) game.”

Videos on Facebook: “To us it’s hugely popular. When Facebook first started, photos were really popular, so you’d go out and take all your photos. Well, photos kind of got boring after a while so now it’s video. So for us, we’re posting three or four pieces of content video a week. That can be something our chef is doing; a new slot machine we’ve got on the floor; some concert footage… we’ve always got something new out there. We work very closely with our directors to see what’s going on in the property. Probably the most important thing about being social media manager is being social with our staff. You don’t want to be the last person to find out about something really cool. If we see our videos slowing down a little bit, we try to ramp it up through the weekend with promoted videos. If you’re starting to use Facebook and you haven’t used promoted posts, that’s definitely something you need to look into.”

Needless to say, we’ll be offering attendees a big helping of information on the digital marketing front at the Casino Marketing & Technology Conference. On the social media front, Julia Carcamo, senior vice president of marketing for M Partners, will lead a session with two other accomplished experts in the field: Brandon Cox, founder and creative strategist, Ever After Agency and Jerry Epstein, CEO, Engaged Nation. Each of the participants has worked closely with casinos on successful digital marketing campaigns that were either social media focused or included social media component.

Another can’t miss is the Romero Awards. Each year at this conference, the Awards breakfast is one of the best-attended functions and it’s about more than people showing up to see if they’ve won something. There are 62 winners this year, and, as we’ve done for several years now, each of their winning entries will be described in detail, financial impacts included. It’s the ultimate “steal this idea” marketing session, and it works because it’s not just about big casinos with bigger budgets than yours. All of the underlying thinking behind these entries is transferable, a fancy word for “tweak it as you see fit and run with it.”

What’s cool about this conference, or any good marketing education event, is that you always come away with ideas that you can apply immediately when you get back to work. If the winners this year are any indication, we have some emerging leaders in digital marketing who are really worth paying attention to. Hope to see you there so you can see who I mean.