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The UK’s online gambling sector was worth more than £2bn in 2012 and bookies have been quick to adapt to the digital world to make sure they are maximising their market share.
For example, most of the major bookmakers have smartphone apps and Paddy Power has come up with some excellent viral ads to help raise its profile.
It’s an industry we’ve touched on previously, with stats showing the Irish betting shop is the top performing brand on social networks while Coral proved to have the most user-friendly website.
And with this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at how William Hill uses the four main social networks.
William Hill has 461,000 Facebook fans and posts several updates per day, all of which are sports-related.
Nearly all of the updates feature a photo or video and a comment about an upcoming sporting event such as the latest odds or a promotion for a fan competition.
The social team aren’t shy about asking for ‘likes’ and shares, with posts frequently asking people to “like if you agree or tell us why you don’t,” or simply stating “SHARE.”
This is a straightforward way of encouraging people to engage with your posts which in turn shares them among their own social circles, and to be fair it seems to work.
William Hill’s post tend to get a few hundred ‘likes’ and comments, which probably reflects the fact that in general people tend to be quite partisan about sports so are willing to shout about their opinions.
Surprisingly few brands bother to respond to commenters on Facebook, but William Hill does an okay job of interacting with its fans by making use of Facebook’s new ‘reply’ button.
It’s also interesting to note that William Hill posts relatively few links back to its website, but more often links to Facebook competitions where people can win money by correctly predicting sports results.
In order to enter users must have a William Hill account so it appears to be a data capture exercise, but it also lets you know how much money you would win if you bet £1 and your prediction came true.
This is a great way of tempting people with the offer of easy money and probably encourages a few users to head to Williamhill.com to place a bet.
In all honesty I expected William Hill’s Twitter feed to just push out news about the latest odds, but it does a good job of responding to all kinds of customer queries.
This includes questions about withdrawing funds, odds enquiries, account queries and tongue-in-cheek refund requests.
As a result it has clocked up more than 50,000 followers, which is quite impressive for a bookies that has a limited presence outside the UK.
That said the social team does also tweet a number of odds updates each day, which you would expect as it makes the most of Twitter’s strength as a live newsfeed.
It’s also interesting to note that William Hill tweets the same score prediction competitions that it promotes through Facebook, although they are hosted on a different platform, so it would appear that they have proved to be a successful way of encouraging people to place bets online.
William Hill also operates a number of separate feed for its other services, including the In Play Radio channel which gives commentary on sporting events and details the live odds, and a dedicated horse racing feed.
These two are still active and tweet a number of times per day but only have a few thousand followers each.
Gambling isn’t the kind of industry that one would immediately associate with Pinterest so it’s no real surprise that William Hill hasn’t taken to the social network with much gusto.
In fact the Online account doesn’t have any pins or boards at all, while the others have a couple of boards each that haven’t been updated in months.
It could be that William Hill keeps these pages open to prevent anyone else from pinching the usernames, but personally I think it would be a much better idea to delete them all as it looks really sloppy to have dormant social accounts.
The former has only been updated five times this year, though it did recently host a Hangout that allowed people to pose questions to footballer Robbie Savage using the hashtag #askSavage.
In my opinion Hangouts are one of the few worthwhile features currently offered by Google+ as it gives a great opportunity for users to interact with celebrities and sport stars.
As such William Hill may be able to extract some value from the social network if it can find an audience for regular Hangouts with its brand ambassadors.
Other than a few notable exceptions such as ASOS and Cadbury, very few brands actually dedicate much time and effort to their G+ pages so it’s not unusual that William Hill seems so uninterested.