sme_bw2010_jay_baer_v1 from Michael A. Stelzner on Vimeo.

I was watching this video and couldn’t help but think about all of the mistakes online poker companies make when approaching social media. Especially the part about just setting up a Facebook page and ticking that off on your list of things to do to become a social media aware company.

Few poker rooms have a single person devoted to social media. And those that do radically understaff it. It’s sad to see a company that has 20 or 30 people who are in charge of buying ad space in local media and they don’t even have a single person 100% dedicated to social media or they have one or two people in charge of handling world-wide social media efforts despite the fact that if done correctly they could touch nearly as many as the other 20 – 30 people doing traditional marketing.

It’s a bit of a paradigm shift for many companies. Like Stelzner says, if they’re a fan on Facebook they already like you. If they’re following you on Twitter they already know you and your brand. But if you look at a lot of the Twitter and Facebook communications form online poker sites, and even some affiliates, they’re still trying to sell you in every communication.

I don’t mean to single out these companies but they are the two biggest in the industry so they set the bar for the rest of the online poker business.

Look at PokerStars’ Twitter feed:

Granted, they make a small effort to interact but as you can see the feed is basically a firehose of PokerStars related information. They’re on broadcast mode. They really don’t care about what’s coming back to them in terms of conversation.

Full Tilt is probably a little worse in this regard:

While I agree with Stelzner that the people who sign up and Like you on Facebook and Follow you on Twitter are already fans just hitting people up with self-promotional crap is the same as people who post about what they ate for breakfast this morning. Nobody cares!

I just wanted to compare this to internet marketing guy Jeremy Schoemaker who has 112,202 followers on Twitter compared to Full Tilt’s 14,154 and PokerStars’ 35,358. Notice how he actually talks to the people following him and how he’s willing to talk about topics other than himself?

I’m not putting Schoemaker out there as the greatest guy to ever do online marketing but two of the biggest poker rooms in the world don’t even have half of the following (combined). I don’t even follow either of them because I know it’s just going to be an endless stream of self-promotional Tweets with no real desire to engage in a conversation or ever hear any feedback.

They offer no real value. They’re greedy little bastards who link out to nothing and expect everyone to link in to them. That’s a little tongue in cheek but the point is social means social. If you showed up at a party and just bragged about yourself all night how many friends do you think you would have?

Social media is not a broadcast medium. It’s an interactive medium. But that point gets lost on people who are used to being in the broadcast media business and people fixated on their past success (in a broadcast medium world). A bunch of execs sit around a table and decide, “Hey Bob, you’re online marketing, right? Why don’t you post 20 or 30 tweets a day on a Twitter account so we can fill up some of our guaranteed tournaments that are missing their guarantees?”

They’re not taking the medium seriously so they don’t get serious results which justifies them not taking the medium seriously . . . sort of an endless cycle.

Ship It Holla Ballas!

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About Author

Bill Rini has been working in the online poker industry since 2004. He was a product manager for poker at Full Tilt and was the poker room manager at PartyPoker. Currently, Bill is the Head of Online Poker for WSOP.   Bill has been blogging about online poker since 2003 and is considered one of the leading authorities on the online poker industry.   "I like What Bill Rini said in his blog" - Doyle Brunson   "In other news, we had Bill Rini write an absolutely home run blog." Daniel Negreanu   "Industry insider Bill Rini has one of the most popular blogs in poker, with thousands of subscribers and fans regularly coming back for his universally respected insight into the industry" - Barry Carter (News editor for PokerStrategy, Co-Author: The Mental Game of Poker)

(13) Readers Comments

  1. @ ALCantHang

    That is a shocking lack of professionalism. Granted, Jordan Cooper could have used some more choice words, but if you were to look at his perspective (and mine, as well as many others to be sure), he is just venting the frustrations of a person who is tired of always trying to be sold on something.

    I thought that Bill had some fantastic suggestions, and it would be great if you were able to implement them and set your bar higher than the other poker sites out there.

  2. In scuba diving it means getting the bends, aka decompression sickness (DCS). Though, I’m not sure that’s what was meant :-)

  3. What does “get bent” really entails ?

    Back to the topic I think Bill makes very good points and those who are in charge of poker rooms social media should, at least, reflect on them.

  4. “It’s nice to see you’re arrogant enough to think I actually give a crap about major tourney updates or anything else related to your site.”

    If that is the way you wanted to “help”, you certainly have a future as a motivational speaker. I came here to discuss this with Bill, someone I’ve lifted drinks with and respect, not get in some forum-like dick-measuring contest. Lesson learned, I will talk to Bill offline so I won’t offend your sensibilities.

  5. Al, that’s definitely a good way to speak to one of your paying customers – telling one of them (who’s trying to help you) to “get bent”. Looks like it’s time to transfer funds over to Pokerstars.

    Good luck with the social media scam you’ve got FTP over. If they ever need someone who can actually do the job, and not tell their customers to get bent, I’m more than happy to refer them to many qualified individuals with extensive brand-side experience.

  6. Al,

    Good luck on that. I would really loooooove to see someone doing it right.

    Bill

  7. Nothing personal at all, I just wanted to point out what we’re trying to do. It’s a constant learning process from what works and what doesn’t. It’s been a vast improvement from when the only thing going out was a long list of promotional links back to the main site. I’m trying to drag them in the right direction.

    Jordan on the other hand can get bent.

  8. Dave, I applaud you for your coverage of the “unique” Twitter style in popular blogs/magazines. I’m sure it helps you look awesome to your social media industry friends at cocktail parties. Nevertheless, you couldn’t *pay* me to follow that account. Nor does having X number of followers mean anything at all.

    I just did a search for “poker” on Twitter and it brought back over 700 tweets this past hour. Although it was a lot of spam, I found 4-5 tweets (in just an hour) from people who are currently playing in, thinking of playing in, on their way to a poker game/tournament and other poker playing related personal tidbits. I checked and they all weren’t following either BetFairPoker or FullTiltPoker.

    You don’t think an @reply that says something like “Good luck, dude!” would be a good idea? Not only could it get a follow, but these people may not even be playing much online poker at all – and what site would these casuals rather play at? The one that reaches out to *them* like a human being.

    Bill is absolutely right here. You guys still don’t get it.

  9. With respect Bill, I think it is wrong of you to be passing judgement on a Twitter feed unless you actually follow it. Sure, it’s easy to grab a screenshot and comment on the last ten tweets but nobody views Twitter that way. Regular Twitter users follow many people so the tweets from these two companies would have been received as one of many in their personal timeline. The timestamps on these tweets tells us they are pretty well spread out meaning users have not been bombarded with self-serving links but rather timely information tweets (more likely to be ignored than acted upon but that’s another story).

    A huge leak commentators have about Twitter is they try and generalise for every industry and brand. However, every brand has its own strengths and weaknesses and this is what social media managers need to be plugging into rather than doing what everyone else seems to do.

    Stars, for example, used their unique Home Games to acquire more followers and spread the word while I’m sure Tilt would have been successful with some kind of campaign if they had been active when Rush Poker was just starting.

    One mistake of many poker Twitter feeds is that they acquire ‘egghead’ followers i.e. people who don’t put a profile pic on. These people only join Twitter to take advantage of offers available to followers having seen an advert on the main website. They have heard there is free booze at the party but don’t intend to talk to anyone while they are there…hardly very social.

    There is no correct way to do marketing on Twitter and it is still a learning process for everyone.

    With the Betfairpoker twitter feed we have tried to focus more on entertaining and educating followers rather than self-promotion. It seems to be working. Do a google search for ‘betfairpoker twitter’ and see the coverage we have been having from the Guardian to Techcrunch.

    It may not be the correct approach but it is different and it stands out from the crowd.

    Every brand twitter account will stand or fall in the end by ROI but measuring that accurately for social media is another huge unsolved topic.

  10. And Al, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t know you were in charge of the Twitter updates. It’s nothing personal.

  11. @Al, I grabbed what was there. Why should I go back to find a particular point in time that isn’t representative of what is normally posted? If a poker site posts 10 self-promotions in a row then that is the problem. The fact that they sometimes mix it up and throw in some actual content (produced by them) is not the point. And tournament updates, especially when they are FTP pro heavy updates, is, again, not really a great example of how to use social media.

    That is the part that is missing out of most social media strategies and the issue I’m trying to point out. I forget who said it but they said that you should post 10 links to other sites for every 1 link you post to your own in social media. Is FTP even approaching anywhere near that ratio?

    Al, what would you rather have, me saying stuff like this so you guys can reshape your strategy or to still have only 14,000 followers 12 months from now? I’m a former employee of the company. I’m an affiliate. I promote FTP. But I wouldn’t follow the FTP Twitter feed if my life depended on it because I don’t want to be bombarded with an endless stream of self-promotion.

  12. Congratulations, Al. Those 14,000 followers and $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee. It’s nice to see you’re arrogant enough to think I actually give a crap about major tourney updates or anything else related to your site.

    Your demographic is poker players, not FTP fanboys. When’s the last time you did a Twitter search column for “poker” and just spent a few hours responding to people? (even if it has nothing to do with Full Tilt)

    Social media isn’t an advertising campaign. It’s paramount to letting 100,000+ hang out in your office 24/7. Why should anyone bother following you if you’re just going to ignore them not listen to what *they’re* saying.

  13. Nice job grabbing the feed to make your point. Did you go back far enough to see when we give regular tournament updates during majors and answer questions from followers? Or when we do interviews with our pros with questions submitted by the Facebook “fans”?

    While the Tilt social media may not be where it should be, we are working it out (with a crew more than one). We’re also not the biggest twitter account but we just gained control of @FullTiltPoker in February and I’m pretty happy to have it up to 14,000 in a little over 2 months.