What Happens in Vegas … Is Advertised on Facebook: Q&A with Nick Mattera

Mattera sat down with SocialTimes this week at the Adobe Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah to talk about how Sin City markets itself to a mobile-savvy and international customer base.


Nick Mattera may have one of the most desirable tasks in the marketing world: persuade people to come to Las Vegas.

As the Director of Digital Engagement for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Mattera finds ways to bring the tried-and-true “What happens in Vegas…” marketing strategy into digital and emerging platforms. Much like any other business, the LVCVA has to change up messaging quite often, to cater to sports fans, foodies and those looking for the best deal on a long-distance flight.

Mattera sat down with SocialTimes this week at the Adobe Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah to talk about how Sin City markets itself to a mobile-savvy and international customer base.

SocialTimes: Can you talk about your strategy with regard to social advertising?

Nick Mattera: Everybody knows us for our “What happens in Vegas… stays in Vegas,” campaign. It’s iconic, but it’s a traditional campaign. Over the years, we’ve really looked for ways to make that campaign in the digital space — a digital-first approach to a traditional campaign.

We’ve taken the idea of “What happens here, stays here,” and created stop-motion videos, 15 seconds or 6 second videos for Instagram or Vine, we’ve created Pinterest boards that tie to the campaign. Imagine Dragons, they’re in one of our commercial spots. For an extension of that, we created a pop-up concert in front of the Bellagio fountains that we only communicated via Twitter about an hour before.

It was a social-first execution that really tied people back to our TV campaigns. People are cutting the cords; they’re not watching commercials like they used to. They’re not watching TV like they used to, so we’re looking at digital as a way to reach consumers at scale. Consumers are spending more time than ever before on Facebook and Twitter, and they’re expanding their time spend on Tumblr and Instagram and Vine. We’re creating channel-specific strategy to make sure we’re resonating with those consumers. If somebody’s passionate about Vine, and you entered into that space with a video that just didn’t make sense to them, they’re not going to have the right perception of Vegas because you didn’t tell the story the right way on that channel.

ST: You mention Vine and Instagram. How have you been working to get your messaging out to a more mobile-friendly consumer base?

NM: Our social media strategy is essentially mobile-first, when you think about the content that we’re putting out: 16- and 6-second videos that are really snackable, viewable on a mobile device. It’s not longform content that people don’t want to consume in that space.

When you think about how we take traditional and make it digital, we’re using paid media with Twitter and TV targeting. We know there’s a second-screen mentality; if you’re watching TV, you’re probably also on Twitter, scrolling through. We’re looking for ways to infiltrate the mobile space, knowing that if they’re watching a television program that our commercial is currently running in, we want to sequentially message them on Twitter.

If something is trending — if you think about the Super Bowl or the Oscars, or if you think about the recent thing with the dress — we want to insert ourselves into the conversation in a funny, playful way. We have white and gold hotels — Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Trump Towers — so we jumped into that conversation almost instantaneously and asked people what color our hotels were.

That’s one of the more fun things that we do. We brought Grumpy Cat to Vegas. She had an awful time, but it was great at the same time. Lebron James, before he decided to move from the Miami Heat to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he held a meeting in Las Vegas with Pat Riley and Dwayne Wade. We got wind of that and we put out social content instantaneously, saying “There’s no better place in the world that can have a decision this big be made.” It was a business message, but it resonated with consumers.

ST: When brands try to contribute to a trending topic, some really hit it well, but others completely miss the mark. Can you talk about the thought process that happens when you decide to step into something or leave it alone?

NM: There’s a lot of thought that goes into it. There’s kind of an editorial chain of command. We debate it. Sometimes, we don’t have the time to go into it, but we’re brand-conscious and we have a tone of voice.

If it makes sense to the destination, if it makes sense to the verticals, if it’s something our consumers are talking about, we’ll insert ourselves. More often than not, we don’t join in the conversation. We find the right moments and the right times and we definitely want to be a part of it, but we’re protective of when we do it and how we do it.

ST: You’re not only trying to bring in people from the U.S., but appeal to an international clientele. How do you market Vegas internationally?

NM: 20 percent of the visitation to Las Vegas is international. We focused on six key markets to launch social strategies: the U.K., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany and Australia. And France we’ll be launching in the next few weeks.

It’s not reiterating our domestic strategy. It’s not taking the content that we have and repurposing it. It’s localizing Vegas content. When I talk about sports as a key driver domestically, we’ve got the NFL and NHL and MLB. When you go into Europe, it’s more about the English Premier League or the Champions League. In Australia, there’s the Rugby Sevens that happens in Las Vegas. There’s chefs that have come from the U.K. or Australia and they’re opening restaurants in Las Vegas.

There’s a lot of stories that can be told and localized. That’s a key initiative for us that we’re really excited about. We really want to grow visitation from international markets and we think social interaction is really important.

Top image courtesy of Visit Las Vegas on Facebook.

Readers: What can you take away from Vegas’ social strategy?

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