It’s not often you encounter a 24-year-old CEO in the gambling space, but Troy Paul is bucking lots of trends with his affiliate content company, Sports Gambling Guides. The company dabbles in search-driven SEO web content, but the real bread and butter of the organization is social media.
Paul and his friends were already passionate about social media and spent most of their time engaging on various platforms, especially when watching sports. So Paul monetized his interests by creating Sports Gambling Guides and partnering with social media content creators, or micro-influencers, as he likes to call them. These creators can then, in turn, monetize their own sphere of influence in the sports world.
Paul spoke with SBC Americas about the business, which is booming thanks to a new investment of $2 million from Astralis Capital.
SBC: Sports Gambling Guides’ focus is on social media, but you also have written content on websites. How do you balance how much attention you pay to each vertical?
Paul: It still is important to be producing written content on your own where you’re talking about what’s going on with teams, and you’re writing more detailed articles about whatever sport it is you’re focusing on. The unique difference between social media, especially marketing, and actual website marketing and website content, is that there’s a low attention span for people when they’re on Twitter or on Instagram. People look at something as they’re going through their feed, and you really have one sentence to catch their attention. If you don’t, they’re gonna keep scrolling. So it’s very high-level. Quick sound bites draw attention and bring engagement to whatever content it is you’re producing there. Whereas website content, you can get much more detailed and much more involved with whatever it is that you’re describing, or pitching, or really just breaking down for fans. We like to have a hybrid of both. Our main focus for SGG always has been and always will be is social media. That’s what we pride ourselves on. But there is always a spot and a place to be producing website content, we do find that important as well.
SBC: How do you scout talent to join your team?
Paul: It’s been a long trial and error process. Right now we have a team of 17 of us. A bunch of young guys all in their mid-20s, who like, like me, grew up on social media and really understand the intricacies of it and what it takes to be a talented content creator. It took us multiple years to really figure out the kinds of metrics that we’re looking for, and how to locate and contact and find deals and work with these small content creator accounts. A lot of it had to do with, in the beginning, really just thinking about what demographic are we looking to hit here? What state is coming online that’s really important to the market right now? What team has the most interest that companies that are looking to conduct branding or would want to be involved with this demographic?
Once we had that, it was just diving into the depths of Twitter and Instagram and hashtags and seeing what accounts are posting content that is relating to this target market we’re looking for. Then weeding through that, then reaching out to them and negotiating a deal. Our first year and a half was that grind that we were really involved in. Nowadays, we’ve gotten to the size and to the point now, where most small content creators have either worked with us or, at the very least, have heard of us. And they’re reaching out to us now saying, ‘Hey, I have this account that I’m working on. We produce this kind of content, why don’t you take a look at us and let’s talk?”
SBC: Do you help your influencers grow and develop their channel? And what kind of advice can you give to anyone trying to build a social media following?
Paul: The first thing about our team is we eat live and breed social media. We work with a lot of content creators. We see what type of information gets more engagement and gets fans sparked in sparks conversation. We’ve actually built an in-house team of graphic designers, video editors, and content creators. When you’re a micro-influencer and you work with us, you have our resources at your disposal. So we are working with our talent to help them improve their accounts to help them create more sophisticated graphics and more sophisticated video content to actually post to their fans. That way they can get involved with creating better content on that front.
Creating content is half science, half art. It’s understanding the demographics and the metrics behind what is, for lack of a better word, popular right now…At the same time, it’s really involved. Every content creator needs to find their own niche. If I could give any advice to any young content creator out there, you have to find something that’s different and unique.
Everyone in the world right now is posting, especially in the sports gambling space. They post picks. In my opinion, that’s outdated, it’s overdone, and it’s saturated. You need to find out what is different…Everyone’s always trying to chase the next big thing and hop onto this trend. I think the key for content creators is to find out actually, what do you love? What do you truly enjoy? Focus and figure out a way to create that into your own niche and your own angle and create your content around that. When you do that, combined with just being talented and having a team behind you who can create quality graphics quality content, in my opinion, it’s just a matter of time before you get noticed and you start to actually grow your channel.
SBC: It’s interesting you bring up picks. This seems to be the trendy content to do on social media, both for operators and affiliates. Is making picks here to stay at this level or do you see touting playing a different role in social media as the industry develops?
There’s always a need for it in this space. At the end of the day, lots of people are sports gamblers, and they’re looking to win. So anyone who can show data that they’re an expert and help people win, there is a market for it, especially in the social media space. That being said, it’s gotten to the point where it’s so saturated, and there are so many content creators that that sell this dream of, ‘I’m a winning gambler, and I can make you better,’ that most fans, in my opinion, have become numb to it. When you see someone promising they’re going to have an 80% win rate, I just don’t buy it. Right. So I do think that there is a need for it.
I also think there’s there’s something to be said about the community behind sports gambling, which has really grown in the last year and a half, two years since sports gambling become legalized. There has been this community that’s arisen from it. Everyone kind of gets along with each other and talks to each other…And surprisingly enough, that community is not based solely around making winning wagers. It’s less about actually winning money sports gambling and it’s more about having a good time with your friends. People underestimate the social aspect of sports gambling. I think catering to that side of the market with your content is going to lend you a lot more success than just trying to post pics and hope that people win with your gambling advice. I think that’s an overlooked side of the industry.
SBC: There always seems to be a new social media network that marketers need to pay attention to for growth. Are there fledging social media channels you think will have an impact in the sports gambling space?
Paul: I think the two fastest growing platforms are Discord number one I would say and TikTok number two. TikTok is well known by every sector, every industry, every person in America for the most part, but the sports gambling side of it and the content creation side of it is really just starting to grow. You’re really starting to see the emergence of TikTok stars that are solely based around sports gambling content. The same applies with Discord and that is really in the last 6-12 months.
SBC: Do your content creators vary content much across channels? Is it advisable to make one video or piece of content and then post it across every network?
Paul: I think, especially for young content creators, before you’re established, when you’re really trying to get from that zero to one, it’s really important to devote your time and your effort to one social media channel. Whichever one that is, if it’s Twitter, Instagram, if i’s TikTok it doesn’t matter. But you need to devote your effort to that one platform. And that’s one major commonality that I’ve seen with all of our successful content creators that we work with, is that they started and built up one platform and they focused on that. Then, once you build a brand, and you have a presence, and you have fans, and you have engagement, and you have all of that on this one platform, you can leverage it into other media platforms.
SBC: Are sports betting affiliates heading down a path of extremely micro audiences? Will major affiliate websites always be the dominant way to convert customers?
Paul: I think that affiliate marketing, and frankly, advertising in the sports gambling space is very much so trending towards social media advertising. The new world rrder is is people who are in their 20s and 30s, who are dual-screen while they’re watching sports games. They’re watching their favorite NFL team, and they’re on Twitter the whole time. And that’s the future of advertising in general. Advertisers want to focus on where they’re going to get engagement, where they’re going to get link clicks, and where they’re going to get people talking about what they’re doing. And social media in that sense, is, is the future, in our opinion.
I wanted to add to that, too, is that what are what we’ve seen with with social media is that not only is it more engaged, not only is it the future of advertising, it’s extremely cost effective to market through social media platforms, if done in the right way. I think this this new realization in the sports gambling market after what’s been happening to the companies overspending and spending too much for player acquisition…Operators are going to need to find cost effective and sustainable ways to continue marketing their products. And if you compare how much it costs to run a social media ad that gets engagement in is sustainable compared to traditional methods like Google AdWords, and SEO marketing, it’s not even comparable. Social media is unbelievably positive and effective, which lends itself to being sustainable, which is a big talking point right now in the sports gambling space–finding these cost effective and sustainable ways to continue marketing your products.