Getting social on the Strip

Just as the telephone transformed communications in the 20th century, social media is leading the charge for communication change this century, and Las Vegas will be the center of the social media universe during the Social Media Summit from Feb. 9-11 at Planet Hollywood Resort.

Not only will Las Vegas play host to the social media super conference, but two prominent local corporate leaders will be highlighting the agenda.

Beverly W. Jackson, vice president of social media and content strategy for MGM Resorts International, is a keynote speaker and will focus on solutions to build content strategy and working with influencers across content channel.

“My keynote address will detail the challenges of building a social and content Center of Excellence,” says Jackson. “At MGM, we are actively leveraging various social channels to engage our guests, extend our guest service experience and expose guests to our portfolio of brands and unique entertainment experiences.”

Jackson’s role is new, created by MGM Resorts International’s chief experience officer Lilian Tomovich. Jackson’s biggest responsibilities are to build the resort group’s Center of Excellence to support business and to create completing and engaging stories that drive awareness and loyalty for brands and guests.

Also on the summit’s program is Nick Mattera, senior director of digital engagement for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Mattera is presenting an industry case study on how LVCVA leverages storytelling to redefine the “What Happens Here Stays Here” marketing campaign to connect with consumers across generations.

“We are leveraging the summit to showcase the evolution of our digital marketing efforts over the past year,” said Mattera.

Along with the Las Vegas experts, the Social Media Summit is welcoming high-profile corporate speakers and subject matter experts from Time Inc., Mattel Inc., U-Haul and Sprint.

The Social Media Summit provides attendees with the latest thinking on how to optimize key social channels to engage audiences, establish brand trust through content creation and storytelling, and harness powerful technologies to stay ahead of the competition. The summit also helps attendees measure and prove return on investment to accelerate business growth and revenue.

A key part of the Social Media Summit is establishing the value of storytelling to any audience.

“Our social media strategy uses storytelling as an essential building block,” said Jackson. “We are focusing on telling stories whenever possible because the objective is to create long-term, actionable relationships with our brand loyalists, advocates and prospective guests. This helps us to build experiences that are customized and unique to further our position as an industry leader,” she continued. “It is through storytelling that we create loyalists and advocates.”

LVCVA also recognizes the importance of storytelling in social media, and in the past six months LVCVA has released more than 40 pieces of video content that feature more than 50 venues from across Las Vegas.

“This video content has everything from popular DJs Krewella in an elevator to taking a deeper look at the downtown dining scene by following a chef around to see some of his favorite dining spots,” says Mattera. “We have created separate social strategies for each channel we are on with the understanding that consumers have that expectation.

“While there may be some crossover, if you visit us on Facebook as a consumer, you will receive a slightly different piece of content and story than if you visited us on Instagram or Tumblr,” he continued. “One channel does not work ‘best’ per se, but we have seen significant growth as of late on some of the emerging platforms like Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest.”

As expected, the Social Media Summit attracts attendees from every sphere of the corporate world, and the 2016 summit isn’t any different. Coca-Cola, Caterpillar, McDonald’s, Macy’s, the San Diego Zoo, FedEx, State Farm and Toyota all will be in attendance.

“It is always exciting to spend time with other leaders and share experiences which are unique to us who are actually building and changing this industry,” says Jackson.

While the social media industry will unite as one in Las Vegas, both Jackson and Mattera agree that tackling the Las Vegas market via social media is different than any other market in the world.

“There is an abundance of content and stories to be told in Las Vegas and it makes our job incredibly exciting,” says Mattera. “Keeping Las Vegas top of mind for the leisure, international and business traveler is a top priority and social media gives us many platforms to reach a variety of audiences. We are excited about the content and activations we have planned for the coming year.”

Another major difference in the Las Vegas social media market is the constant need to communicate with international markets, whether it is with Brazil or Berlin, or Vancouver or Venice.

“We have globalized our social media strategy so that we have nine country-specific pages and strategies, not only translated content, but culturally relevant content,” says Mattera. “We work with our offices in each market to ensure that we are speaking to consumers in those markets in the right way and at the right time. We are creating partnerships with our carriers and travel trade partners to grow our reach and create larger digital activations.”

For MGM Resorts International, its successful social media strategy with international guests is driven by three tactics:

• Engaging guests during the times that are convenient for them;

• Focusing on narratives that bring people together through shared or united experiences;

• And developing two-way engagement.

“The ability to understand where our guests are and when they are beginning to plan their trip to Las Vegas is a figurative and literal experience,” says Jackson. “The entertainment and food cultures are global themes and are experiences which are conversation starters both online and in real life. We deliver unique experiences which are aspirational but also attainable for our guests.”

One experience Jackson is looking forward to at the Social Media Summit is meeting more of her Las Vegas-based social media colleagues.

“I am still relatively new to the market and to the industry, so I am excited to meet other professionals from the Las Vegas market,” says Jackson. “We are the people changing business and doing so in a fluid marketplace like Las Vegas. It is an exciting time.”

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