The big thing happening in Las Vegas right now are some discussions about fairly famous tweeters @VegasBill and @24K.You can read Steve Friess‘s article here called “Setting the record straight about Vegas’ Twitter twerps” .  @Vegastripping then followed up with his own blog post called “Twitter  Racketeering for Fun and Profit“. I also saw this has triggered some parody accounts @VegasBilll and @2424k.

Now I haven’t had a lot of interactions with @24k or @VegasBill and don’t know their side of the story. In any case, I really don’t want to get into if they did or didn’t do anything wrong.  You all can decide that on your own.  I do want to follow up on one of  my old posts about casino and blogger social media  responsibility.

Most of us are using social media because we are interested in something.  Some times we are passionate about a subject and want  to share with others. So we start a blog and seek out others that have similar interests. At the same time, many companies know that  enthusiastic and vocal customers are a wonderful thing to have.  Think about Apple or Southwest Airlines where customers get behind them because of their quality or good experience. And now, with social media, those customers can be even more vocal or influential.

I’m sure you can see the problem that is coming.  As certain people in social media  become more influential, getting a few positive comments from them become almost as valuable as a review in a magazine.  In an industry that is quick to reward their favorite customers with all kinds of comps, suddenly the big spender is not the only one that can affect the bottom line.  This is where I want to talk about casino and blogger responsiblity in the social media world.

First of all transparency is far more important when dealing with social media.  Secrets, lies and deceit play really well on the web. Even the perception of this will draw comment and debate (Forget the talk of @VegasBill and @24K above, are you watching what is going on in Egypt right now?) Keeping secrets is hard enough with so many people involved and doubly hard when others are looking for questionable dealings.

As for us social media peeps, hiding compensation might even be illegal. Just recently the FTC explained its rules on blogging that requires disclosure of compensation for blogging or recommendations. There was some concern about this but, frankly, I’d rather know what the people I trust are getting in return.

Now, I’m not saying casinos should or should not support some of their more vocal customers. Casio marketing is way outside my area of expertise.  I would say you (casinos)  had better pay closer attention to what you do and how much you give out around social media marketing because if you are supporting the wrong people in the wrong way for the wrong reasons there is likely to be a backlash (Oh, and show some backbone when its the right thing to do. Obsequiousness might work well one on one but when everyone can see you it’s not very attractive).

As for the individual Las Vegas and casino bloggers, try to remember your roots and the interest and passion that got you into this.  I know what is happening above is certainly making me think more about it. If a casino enables your post because of a free hotel room or free pass, let your readers know and don’t feel obligated to give out a positive post. Your honesty and integrity is the real product you should be selling.

P.S. For the record, I have occasionally received some extras from the casinos mainly because it let me blog about something I couldn’t write about otherwise. It was noted in those posts.I’ve got some buffet coupons too. I’ve got far more comps just for being a regular customer.