Goodbye to the Sahara Casino, one of the last original “Rat Pack” casino-hotels in Las Vegas, Nevada. Opened in 1952, the Sahara Hotel and Casino has hosted everyone from Elvis Presley and Jerry Lewis to Frank Sinatra and the Beatles in the 1950s and 60s.

So what does Las Vegas and the Sahara Casino have to do with lessons in social media? Everything. How am I going to combine my passion for Social Media with my love for blackjack in Las Vegas? Let me explain.

In reading of the closing of the Sahara Hotel and Casino some themes have risen from the quotes of employees and visitors alike.

Social Media is More Than Gimmicks and Coupons

In recent years the Sahara has become known for its dollar games and the 6-pound, 2 foot burrito (dubbed “The Bomb”) available in the Nascar Cafe.

To sustain a community online you must value quality over quantity. Coupons and contesting certainly have a place online, especially if they are used to create growth or encourage user-generated content. In fact, contesting may be seen as a healthy percentage of your overall content strategy.

However, a community can not be sustained on coupons and contesting alone. The point of social media is to create value and engagement. And for most brands, they do not want to be considered a discount brand.

So be careful, if your brand is about more than discounts do not focus solely on the easy win with growing your social media channels. Social media is about more than gimmicks and coupons.

Social Media is About People

Retirees Brigitte and Daniel Quentin have frequented the Sahara Hotel and Casino for years. Brigitte Quentin said “We knew our machines and the staff. It was a hotel with a human dimension, it had warmth.”

A social media community is about people and relationships. The conversations in social media channels could be one-to-one, one-to-many or many-to-many. As a brand curating content and conversations it is important to remember that you are building long term relationships, you are looking to create a brand preference.

A community should have warmth and community managers should realize they are dealing with a customer on the other side of the computer. Sometimes a simple “I’m sorry” or a “thank you” will do more for your relationships than a very clinical and emotionless response.

Social Media is About Managing Communities of All Sizes

Tracy Reed, a Californian has visited the Sahara four or five times a year for 15 years. In learning of the closing of the Sahara she said, “it was like home. The other hotels are way too big. There’s no contact, you can’t meet people, get to know them. And here you got to know the employees, they got to know you by name, it’s just very homey.”

In the social media space many people, myself included, talk about the value of key influencers in your community. Know your best customers and know your best community members. These are the people that will share your message and their brand preference.

It’s very easy to manage a small community and answer every post when there is little engagement. However, what should happen when your community grows in size? 10,000 members? 100,000 members? 1,000,000 members?

Will you answer every question and respond to every post? You should endeavor to interact with everyone and make everyone feel special. It may be easier when your community is still growing, but brands who continue to scale with their communities will also differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Look at it this way, would your call center be OK without answering 80% of your call volume? You should be prepared to have the same level of service and conversation in your social media channels.

Share your thoughts below on the subject. I am incredibly interested in what others think about a brand’s voice scaling with it’s social media channels and communities.