SBC’s Sam Cooke has taken a look at how the gambling industry has approached Facebook and how Facebook has handled the gambling industry. In this second of three parts, he examines the current status quo.
So what is the current state of the relationship between the gambling industry and Facebook? This is a site which dwarfs all other social networking sites with a 1.28bn strong user pool. To put this claim into perspective it has close to 600m more monthly visitors than Twitter; it’s closest competitor. (http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-networking-websites)
Bookmakers have long realised the importance of a social media presence mainly opting for Facebook and Twitter, though the likes of Pinterest are also used to some degree. (https://econsultancy.com/blog/9803)
Below is a list of the top bookmakers in terms of purely Facebook presence.
- PADDY POWER – 1,256,283 Likes
- WILLIAM HILL – 508,905 Likes
- SKYBET – 466, 798 Likes
- LADBROKES – 345, 441 Likes
- BETFAIR – 326, 149 Likes
- CORAL – 234, 974 Likes
- BET365 – 121, 859 Likes
- BETFRED – 118, 604 Likes(Stats collected as of 12/05/2014)
It’s clear to see that Paddy Power top the bill by quite a margin. Indeed they have more likes than the following two bookmakers combined. Why is this? The ongoing social media campaign by Paddy Power is one that seeks to dominate by entertainment. To the extent that reading through their Facebook page, if you were not previously aware, you could easily mistake it for a memes and amusing sports based content page. As an example their most recent status at the time of writing featured a picture of Steven Gerrard consoling Luis Suarez with the tagline, ‘Seriously, NEXT year. That’s definitely the year’. It alone had almost 5,000 likes.
They swamp social media with this type of content and know how to utilise it, which seems to be to not focus on the actual gambling and deals available. Their Twitter too has a large following (317,000) for a reason; they’re funny, often controversial, the recent Oscar Pistorius campaign is one of many examples, and it is this sort of thing that gets re-tweeted on Twitter and shared on Facebook. Yes, as with any controversial subject matter it can also put people off; the very same Pistorius campaign earned the title of most complained about advert in history with over 5500 sent to the Advertising Standards Authority. (Guardian Paddy Power)
Yet rather than apologise sheepishly, they instead bragged with the response ‘’In your face, KFC!’, to the MailOnline after they made contact for a statement. (Daily Mail). This was in reference to a KFC advert which drew a measly 1,671 complaints. Theirs is a marketing campaign which they know wins friends and alienates people, but as long as they’re winning the right sort of friends then it’s worth it. The very online petition, shared across Facebook etc. to the tune of 120,000 signatures, aimed at highlighting the public’s disgust almost doubtless benefitted the bookmaker rather than hindered it in the long term. (Guardian – Outbrain) (Ecounsoultancy.com)
Overall there’s very little ‘gamble now!’ mentality. They opt for a more subtle approach in the hope that Paddy Power is the one you associate with fun, and the bookmaker you remember first and thus the one you go to, either online or instore when you do want to gamble. Of course they do include links to promotions but these are few and far between. After all laughter is the best medicine, and it seems the best catalyst for increasing Facebook exposure.
Other bookmakers somewhat mirror this evidently successful approach but tend to intersperse it far more frequently with betting deals and promotions, the more classic system of betting shop should advertise current betting deals. William Hill and Skybet are two such examples.
Social gaming apps are another big way in which the gambling industry is making the most of Facebook as a portal for expansion.
The industry had long been popularising no-cash, free-play casino and gambling based games on the site in a bid to get a following and ultimately hope they move on and ‘upgrade’ to real money based alternatives.
Apps such as Bingo Friendzys, a game released in 2012 by the firm Gamesys (http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-19162971) was Facebook’s first foray into the real cash gambling app world. The site was quick to point out that this venture was strictly UK only, the site Gamesys also operates the country’s top bingo and slots website Jackpotjoy.com.
The firm Zynga, famous (or should that be infamous?) for the ever popular Farmville, are the one best associated with gambling in this form. They currently operate real-money online gambling games ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino which they established in partnership with BWIN.PARTY. () Whilst recent moves have seen Zynga become more independent of Facebook, previously players were required to have a Facebook account (http://blogs.wsj.com) (Pokerfuse), its ties to and usage of the site are still undeniably vital for Zynga’s longterm success and so a complete separation is highly unlikely.
In 2013 the first major bookmaker to launch Facebook’s first real cash sports betting app was, surprise surprise, Paddy Power. The Paddy Power In-Play! app, though currently extremely limited in territories (that is just the UK at this point), has made sports betting more social, more accessible and frankly more fun than ever before. Like all social media it overloads you with information – you no longer need to wait for a text, whatsapp, whatever, from a friend to tell you about the bet they’ve just made; Facebook has already let you know. Paddy Power said of the app; it will ‘enable customers to bet on a wide variety of sporting events through Facebook, while also giving them visibility of, and the opportunity to engage with, other users’. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2359776/) (http://www.sportsbettingapps.net)
The future potential growth of the gambling industry it would seem relies on it harnessing the unbelievable power of Facebook, and all those sites who trail relentlessly in its wake.