Social Media and Online Poker
Online poker is feeling the effects of the social media phenomenon. Just days after Facebook began its era as a public company trading at a market cap of $80 billion, PKR introduced a smart promotional tool on the social media giant that points the way to how online poker operators of the future can remain relevant. Social media gaming company Zynga has long known about the powers of Facebook for generating a user base and could be looking to cash in on those efforts when poker regulation comes to the U.S.
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Social Media Promotional Campaigns
PKR's Fantasy Poker League challenges players to create a WSOP fantasy roster with a salary of $100 million to spend on eight of poker's top competitors who will earn points based on their finishing position in 59 WSOP events this summer. It's a neat promotion that has caught fire with poker fans on Facebook. Free to enter, anyone can take their shot at assembling the best team in hopes of scoring an iPad 3 for their efforts.
Online poker rooms often create promotions that largely fail to generate attention to their brand. PKR's promotion is smart for a few reasons. First, it's simple enough for anyone to understand. A big pitfall of many online poker promotions is that they're too complicated. People have short attention spans. No one wants to read a bunch of fine print in an attempt to understand what they're getting themselves into. A simple message can go a long way.
PKR also scores points for thinking about the bigger picture and creating a social media promotion that is rooted in brand awareness. Most online poker promotions have one simple goal: get players depositing and playing at the site right now. PKR is showing they can play things a little more cool by creating value for poker fans in hopes that down the road they'll attract new customers because of it.
It's a smart promotion because it is costing PKR next to nothing. They're reaching out to the poker masses with a popular marketing tool that is costing them an iPad 3 and a few hours of an in-house software developer's time to create the app. In turn, thousands of people are being exposed to their brand through their daily Facebook browsing.
PKR offers real-money poker with video game 3-D graphics. They offer a special first-time deposit bonus to PokerTips readers of 100% up to $800 when using bonus code PTIPS100.
Future of Zynga Poker
Zynga CEO Mark Pincus used to oppose the idea of using his company's popular Facebook poker application for real-money gambling. But having to answer to shareholders has a way of lowering one's standards. Zynga's share price is down 30% since the company made its IPO last December. Zynga Poker's 30 million users are an online gaming gold mine. The online poker world should brace itself for Zynga's entrance into the real-money gaming arena.
Zynga recently created a stand-alone platform for their poker game. This gives them the flexibility to offer real-money poker down the road without having to depend on Facebook green-lighting the venture. However, Facebook has indicated it may permit real-money gambling at its site provided it is legal in the jurisdiction where the games are taking place. Indeed, people playing real-money online poker at Facebook is a possibility for the future.
For now, Zynga is waiting for U.S. regulation to give them the opportunity to cash in on their social media approach to online poker. Expect to see them partner with a land-based casino company sometime this year similar to the agreement 888 Poker has with Caesars Entertainment to provide software for real-money poker when Caesars can legally offer it to U.S. residents.
Lessons in Social Media
Online poker rooms like PKR and 888 Poker, whose PokerCam tables allow players to see each other during gameplay, are taking a page from Zynga Poker's playbook by creating a social dynamic around their brand. These are both examples of how an online poker room can remain relevant as the Internet continues to organize itself as a social experience. Poker is a social game and the operators who can best integrate that reality through their online offerings stand the greatest chance for success in the future.