Social Media has been growing rapidly among people over 45 in the United States, particularly with women over 55.1 In fact, this demographic is the fastest-growing segment in social media. Overall, women now outnumber men in every group in social media, making them 56.2% of the U.S. social media audience. These are numbers that simply cannot be ignored in online gambling affiliate marketing.

Luckily, there are an unprecedented number of media tools now available to connect to your audience — namely, using social networking to deliver greater profits in the online marketing game.

At the heart of any good sales strategy is a connection. And bingo, with its lively history and colorful characters, has always been about connecting. Whether it is playing bingo in a traditional bingo hall or online at one of the most popular bingo sites like 123bingoonline.com, it would simply not be as exciting without the people you encounter in the room. Today, with the popularity of Internet bingo exploding2, bingo’s social history is finally catching up with its online future.

BECOME YOUR CUSTOMER

One of the first things to consider in using social media is that it is a non-controllable flow of information. People exchange information freely, and they can talk both positively and negatively about your products and services. Plus, the connections between people expand more rapidly than any other medium — exponentially building with each new contact.

That’s why it is important to be part of the conversation and integrate it into your marketing plan. You’ll have the ability to exert influence over the social group by shaping opinions — a key way to generate new customers and therefore build greater revenue.

So, how does this social media revolution represent a new and better way to make money online? In the past, sales strategies revolved around making customers come to you. Online social networking completely reverses this model, giving you the ability to go directly to customers by meeting them where they hang out. And it is not much different than what we do in real life — meeting people, building relationships, establishing trust, sharing, collaborating and serving customers. Quite simply, there is no better way to build your affiliate business than developing a thriving online social outlet.

You’ll not only connect with people who share common interests in gaming, but you’ll also be able to use the site as a customer relationship management tool, advertise incentives and promotions, and build long-lasting relationships that help not only win over customers but retain them in the long run.

One of the other challenges of social networking is that new technologies are constantly emerging, and some disappear soon after the buzz dies down. It’s wise to coordinate your website with a social networking community that is adaptable and accessible by as many people as possible. Here are a few tools that are seem likely to stick around for the long run:

Twitter: A form of micro-blogging, with shorter media and link-based posts, Twitter is the fastest-growing social media site. Between February 2008 and February 2009, Twitter grew by a whopping 1,300 percent, and then another 77 percent between February and March of 2009.3 Its largest demographic segment is users between 35 and 49 years old, setting it apart from other social media sites. Users subscribe to follow other people to see updates as they are rolled out. For online gamers, users can post scores, winnings and tips.

Facebook: A household name in most parts of the world and fifth in global Internet-traffic rankings, Facebook is more developed than Twitter, letting users build personal pages that talk about their personality and interests. Unlike Twitter, Facebook can form real communities among players with much higher levels of interaction, where they can get to know each other outside the game. As opposed to just blasting messages about yourself or your site, you can get to know potential customers and network more naturally. A Facebook group can be a great lead-generation tool, and also a great place to list incentives and deals for customer acquisition.

Blogs: A popular, highly effective way to share info, a blog is literally a “web log”, an online journal for you to write about yourself, your company, your promotions, etc. There are many blog platforms that make online publishing easy: Blogger (blogger.com, free); WordPress (wordpress.com); and TypePad (typepad.com). Blogging is a good way to show expertise and knowledge of the online gaming arena, and a great way to build a following and gain trust from your customer base.

Video: Video blogging, or vlogging, is becoming more and more popular, and so is the sharing of personal videos within an online social community. Also, short commentary videos are an ideal way to show your expertise on a subject matter and build a following within the industry.

MEASURING SUCCESS

Measuring the success of a social networking plan is a completely different ballgame than what has been acceptable in the past. Traditional measurements include, for example, the number of products sold or the number of new clients gained. With social media, we measure the effect on the brand – specifically your image and reputation as a provider of reliable fun and exciting games. It’s not the number of new people you sign up or how many times your website has been accessed in a day. The brand is your most important asset. It is why users will refer your site to others, and it can build your reputation as THE destination for a dependable gaming experience.

Which brings us to the next question. How do you measure the impact on your brand? One of the best ways is to gather information about reach and frequency. Are your connections growing and are people coming back more often? If so, you’re doing the right thing. Secondly, did your site help change the perception of your brand? Reading posts and interpreting the general vibe of your audience can help determine this. And finally, is your social media tool influencing the industry? Has it been referred to in articles about online gaming, or has it being monitored by other websites?  Is it seen as the go-to place to learn more about a particular game?

There are also new scientific tools to help you measure success. A company called Cymfony, has recently been singled out by Forrester research as one of the best in class for monitoring the online buzz about your brand. They use metrics that have already been mentioned above such as tone and influence, but they also use distribution data and competitive information, among other things, in their analysis. Blogpulse, now owned by Nielsen, is an automated trend discovery system for blogs. They apply machine learning and natural-learning processing techniques to discover which blogs are succeeding.

There is a lot of play going on in social media metrics, so much that it’ll require a whole new topic of discussion. Look for new articles here in the future that’ll help you use these technologies to your advantage!

FINALLY, THE BEST PART…

Perhaps the best incentive to enter the social media world is the low cost of putting together these marketing efforts. Expenses will vary with the details of your marketing plan, but it is generally acknowledged that the cost of communicating through social media is a lot cheaper than physically connecting. Most social media tools do not require a graphic artist, but you will need a writer than can communicate and build excitement. And once the conversations starts, and you begin connecting with prospective customers that keep bringing along new friends, you’ve actually lowered the cost of participation.

Human beings have always had a deeply rooted need for regular communication. Social media engagement is a very natural digital progression that utilizes modern technologies to facilitate efficient communication, bringing the excitement of gaming into the virtual world.

And, if you’re smart in the way you communicate via social media, it’s the perfect way to build a customer base online and grow your affiliate marketing business in the process.

References
1 http://www.insidefacebook.com/2009/02/02/fastest-growing-demographic-on-facebook-women-over-55/
2 http://www.casinoaffiliateprograms.com/news/Online-Bingo-Strong-and-Getting-Stronger.php
3 http://www.webcpa.com/prc_issues/2009_5/-50547-1.html


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