Boyd mining social media, games

16 April 2012

LAS VEGAS -- Boyd Gaming is enticing Farmville fans to abandon their virtual crops in favor of real-life prizes.

The Las Vegas-based gaming company, which owns 17 casinos in Nevada, Mississippi, New Jersey, Louisiana, Indiana and Illinois, is going social with the Monday launch of its upgraded "B Connected" website.

The gaming industry has been quick to embrace social media, with casinos adding social media staffers to their teams and amassing Twitter followers and Facebook friends.

But Boyd is taking it one step further by turning its online player rewards program into a game on its website. Club members can compete for points and badges, and their achievements are tallied on a leaderboard displayed on the B Connected site. Mystery bonuses and promotions will be tucked like Easter eggs around the site, encouraging players to log in and play more often.

Gamblers are accustomed to racking up points using a players club card at their favorite casinos, but Boyd will also reward them with points if they tweet about the casino or post something on social media sites using an opt-in feature called B Connected Social.

"As we migrate our customers to using the online product to book a room, there is a cost savings for us to book that hotel room online. We want to reward customers through the B Connected Social program to do that," said Brian Best, Boyd's corporate vice president of e-commerce. "We want to reward them for sharing that they're coming to Las Vegas and staying at one of our properties."

Checking into a Boyd casino on Facebook or Foursquare accumulates social points, as does booking a hotel room online, logging into the B Connected mobile app and sharing property promotions with friends on Twitter. Those points can be redeemed for entries into giveaways. From Monday to May 15, giveaways will be held weekly and include trips to Hawaii, gift cards and slot play.

Going social is a "natural progression" as the company continues to develop its digital products, Best said.

"The average Facebook user has 200 or so friends, and it benefits Boyd Gaming for them to share that information and share events and promotions that are happening at our properties with their friends, spreading word of mouth and exposing casinos to a much wider customer base," Best said.

The company found that there was a significant demographic overlap between social game players and casino customers. A 2010 study by social game creator PopCap found that the average social gamer is a 43-year-old woman.

"In certain markets of ours, some of the most engaged customers are part of the older demographic. (B Connected Social) is not targeted to a young crowd. It's targeted to our customer base," he said.

Along with the social media game feature, the new version of B Connected Online also sends out alerts to players about upcoming events, promotions or offers they can redeem based on information customers put in their online profile. Country music fans will receive e-mails or texts (depending on preference) about an artist appearing at a Boyd property.

Players club members are not automatically signed up for B Connected Social. First, B Connected players must sign up for the website at www.bconnectedonline.com, then click to opt in to the social features.

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