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Published February 27th 2012

3 Striking Ways That Credit Cards Are Using Social Media

The CEO of the web’s leading forum for credit cards, Michael Dolen is nice enough to share his thoughts on how credit card companies are using social media marketing to get new customers (and keep their existing customers happy).

Not all card issuers have fully embraced social media, but for the ones that have the dividends have paid off quite nicely. What follows are three of the most successful strategies I’ve seen them use within the past year.

#1. An uber-generous card offer to spur word-of-mouth publicity

The old way of thinking says that you should spend big money on TV commercials to get exposure for your product.

Sure, that may work, but do you know else can do the trick? Creating a limited-time credit card deal that is so outrageously generous, it will have everyone in the blogosphere buzzing about it.

The most successful example of this has been what Chase did with the British Airways credit card.

During a few weeks in spring of 2011, they ran a special online promotion (in the US market) where they offered up to 100,000 bonus miles to new account holders.

If you fly British Airways, then you might already know that 50,000 miles is enough for a roundtrip ticket to/from the US and UK.

So essentially, this was a credit card promotion where you could earn 2 round-trip transatlantic tickets for free. Depending upon the exact flights, the dollar value of this incentive likely exceeds $1,000.

My guess is that Chase probably took a hit on the expense of paying out all those free miles, but you know? Doing that for a few weeks was probably cheaper (and more effective) than running TV commercials.

It seemed like every personal finance blogger was talking about the offer, which of course meant loads of publicity for the British Airways credit card.

#2. The American Express “Link, Like, Love” program

This has been an excellent way for American Express to ramp up social interaction with customers and attract new ones.

So what exactly is Link, Like, Love? It’s a Facebook app that let’s cardholders score limited-time deals with partners. But this isn’t another daily deal site, it’s not even close. Rather here’s how it works:

  • You must have an American Express card to participate.
  • The coupons are free. To get them, you can visit the Facebook page and enroll in the offers you select – i.e. spend $20 at Whole Foods and get $5 cash back.
  • The rebate will be reflected on your American Express billing statement after you participate. It’s all done automatically.

Just like any deals site, not all of the offers are that generous, but many of them are.

As a result, this has not only increased the interaction on AmEx’s Facebook, but it also has generated a nice amount of publicity and has given non-cardholders another reason to apply for an AmEx.

That being said, I have heard from a few people that don’t like that the program since it is only offered through Facebook (they can’t participate in it outside of Facebook).

But overall, the response has been overwhelmingly positive and a real win for this credit card company.

#3. @BofA_help as a venue for customer complaints

As we all know, people love to use social media to voice their complaints. I know this first hand through my site, where on a daily basis people leave dozens of nasty comments.

Bank of America was smart in how they tackled this problem. Why not set up a special Twitter account just for handling complaints? And that’s how the @BofA_help handle was born.

If you check it out you will notice a few things:

  • It’s very active. While writing this, I pulled up their account and there were 10 tweets within just the past 60 minutes.
  • It’s personalized. No one likes dealing with a faceless corporation. BofA made a wise move by putting the faces and names for the BofA_help team on the Twitter page. I’m sure this helps tone things down, because from my experience people are less likely to have fits of rage when they can see who they are actually talking to.
  • They are responsive. How many corporate Twitter accounts have you seen that are practically dead? Well this certainly isn’t one of them! It looks like the team is constantly responding to Tweets (at least during normal business hours) on a daily basis.

Michael Dolen is the creator of CreditCardForum, which is a social platform where users post, comment, and rate credit card deals. You can view the top 10 cards of 2012 ranked by popularity.

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