February 13, 2014
Case Study

Social Media Marketing: Aria Resort & Casino's "storytelling" increases share rate 310%

SUMMARY: Social media marketing thrives on great content. But what separates flat and boring posts from the ones that spark sharing?

The Aria Resort & Casino worked storytelling into its updates on social networks and saw sharing jump 310%. Find out how the effort grew from the shadow of another less-than-stellar campaign.
by Adam Sutton, Senior Reporter


Everything in Las Vegas is competing for attention. Standing out can be difficult, especially for a new casino.

The Aria Resort & Casino opened in 2009 and Derek Schoen, Director of Interactive Marketing, helped kick off the first marketing campaign.

The campaign "The Center of Vegas. Shifted." emphasized that the Aria was new and that people should visit.

"We noticed that the campaign created a question in the minds of guests: 'why?'" Schoen said.

Many marketers would start wringing their hands at this point, but the Aria's team saw an opportunity.


The Aria's team answered with a technique Schoen called "storytelling." Instead of saying that people should come to the Aria, the team showed why they should come and hoped the reasons were interesting enough to share.

Step #1. Find something unique

The marketing team listed more than a dozen parts of the Aria that helped make it unique. The list included:
  • barMASA — A top quality Japanese restaurant.

  • Gold Lounge — A lounge devoted to Elvis Presley (the theme has since changed).

  • Blossom — A Chinese restaurant with quiet, intimate booths.

Step #2. Describe why it is unique

The team went a level deeper, listing why these parts of the Aria were unique. For example, the team identified the following four details that made barMASA stand out:
  • Chef — Head Chef Masa Takayama owns the first-ever Japanese restaurant in the U.S. to receive a three-star Michelin rating.

    "If you were to eat at his restaurant in New York, you'd be on a two-month waiting list," Schoen said.

  • Super fresh — "Our fish is not out of the water more than 24 hours before it is on your plate."

  • Cocktails — High-end Japanese liquors, as well as whiskeys, scotches and sakes are sold. They are offered in minimalist settings that emphasize the spirits "as they are," Schoen said.

  • Plating — The restaurant follows a Japanese custom of plating and serves patrons "what can only be described as works of art."

More than unique

These points were more than quirky details about barMASA; they were differentiators that helped the Aria stand out from the competition.

"These cool little stories showed that we were superior in these areas," Schoen said.

Step #3. Create imagery (images and video)

The team felt that these details, or "mini stories," would make great content for their audiences on Facebook and Twitter.

Wanting to "show" instead of merely "tell," the marketing team grabbed a digital camera from the office and shot what Schoen called "cool, fun, quick photos."

The photos were illustrations for the mini stories. They included photos of:
  • Several types of fresh sushi

  • Slot machines with monitors that resembled curved 40-inch televisions (the only ones in Vegas)

  • Private, quiet booths at Blossom, a Chinese restaurant at the resort

The team even made several video clips of:
  • Lumina — "The only fountain in the world lit by colors that you can even see in direct sunlight."

  • Crystals at CityCenter — An art display combining clear cylinders of bubbling liquid and "high-tech electronics that create a fascinating water show you can’t miss when you visit Las Vegas."

Step #4. Share the story

The Aria's team began sharing the mini stories with their audiences on Facebook (678,000 followers at the time of this writing) and Twitter (134,000 followers).

The team's initial campaign stated "The Center of Vegas has Shifted." Now, each mini story had a new twist on the tagline, such as:

The team included these taglines in the updates, and also included the initial campaign's hashtag, #TheCenter.

Step #5. Don't push for bookings

"In Las Vegas, it's very hard to get people to book ahead of time. Normally, people will pick one thing they really want to do and then they're going to play it by ear," Schoen said.

That's why the Aria didn't intend the mini stories to drive bookings online. Instead, the team sought to raise awareness of the Aria's differentiators and create a positive experience.

"We want to leave you with happy feelings and a lot of great knowledge," Schoen said. "It's all about getting into that consideration set, so the next time they come to Vegas, they can say, 'Hey, I heard about barMASA and I really have to go check out that sushi.'"


The Aria's team expected the images, videos and mini stories would attract interest from their audience and spark sharing.

"Our share rate on this content was four times higher than our average … The most-shared content we ever created was around 'The Center' campaign," Schoen said.

Posts created for the campaign increased several metrics above the Aria's average:
  • 310% increase in share rate on posts with "#TheCenter"

  • 200% increase in interaction rate

  • 320% increase in impressions

"I always love talking about storytelling," Schoen said, "because I think it's what every company should be doing, but isn't. I think it's what marketing today is all about."

Editor's Note: While the Aria Resort & Casino is the location for MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014, this case study came to us from the reporter as sheer coincidence.

Creative Samples

  1. First "The Center" campaign

  2. Post — Fresh sushi

  3. Post — Slot machine monitors

  4. Post — Lumina fountain

  5. Post — Center of cuisine

  6. Post — Center of intimacy

  7. Post — Center of fascination


Aria Resort & Casino

Related Resources

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 in Las Vegas

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