Social Media

3 Things American Express Can Teach You About Social Media

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Traditional newspapers and magazines only serve one purpose: to grab and hold your attention.

That’s exactly how content marketing and social media work. Your goal when using these techniques is to get people’s attention and gain their trust.

American Express understands this perfectly.

For years, they’ve been at the leading edge of making digitally savvy moves. And a recent Mashable article has highlighted some specific strategies that drive their success.

Here are 3 things American Express can teach you about social media.

1. Always Start with Specific Goals

If business goals aren’t dictating your social media activities, then you’re wasting your time.

There are only three ways to do this:

  1. Increase brand awareness by growing your reach
  2. Build customer loyalty by engaging more and providing support
  3. Increase sales by getting more people to purchase, more frequently

American Express first started by addressing one social media goal: customer service.

American Express first made its appearance on Twitter (in 2009) with the @AskAmex handle, focused on servicing Cardmember and merchant questions and needs.

Since the beginning, American Express has built its social strategy on service, and it continues to improve its implementation by taking in user feedback.

From day one, they were intent on using social media for customer service.

And by organizing their internet marketing tactics behind one goal, they are able to out-execute their competitors and achieve the maximum ROI on their effort.

2. Partner with Other Brands

One of the most common social media mistakes is to waste time working from the “bottom-up”, instead of the “top-down”.

Instead of thinking of social media as community management, you should use it for business development.

At SXSW 2012, AmEx stole the show, launching Sync for Twitter and offering up Jay-Z tickets for SXSWers that completed the sync. Partnering with the likes of Whole Foods, McDonald’s and Best Buy, AmEx announced that after linking an AmEx card to their Twitter accounts, cardholders can tweet strategic hashtags to load deals onto their cards. With the hashtag #AmexWholeFoods, for example, a cardholder receives a $20 statement credit when he or she purchases $75 or more at Whole Foods using his or her synced card.

That’s how the definition of social media is replacing PR.

Your job is to find the existing, passionate communities of your target audiences, and figure out how to get in front of them.

One of the best ways is to partner with complimentary brands who also serve the same customers.

3. Focus on Your Audience’s Needs First

You will only be able to build an active, engaged social media presence if you put your audience’s needs first.

So don’t write blogs about your own products, and don’t Tweet about your company.

Instead, focus on building an audience by addressing the problems they’re having. Your job is to provide solutions to your audience by creating content and campaigns around those problems.

American Express started the successful OPEN Forum years ago to help small businesses.

By ignoring their competition and narrowing their focus, they were able to grow a new market segment for their business.

But that’s not all.

In February of this year, Twitter partnered with AmEx to open up its self-serve advertising platform to AmEx cardholders. AmEx even offered up $100 in free advertising to the first 10,000 businesses to sign up.

And we can’t forget the Facebook makeover from last year — AmEx teamed up with Facebook to give five small businesses a Facebook makeover and $20,000 to grow their businesses, as part of its Small Business Saturday program.

AmEx isn’t promoting their own problems (like, “We need you to come buy more stuff!”). They’re helping small businesses deal with their own issues.

They’re providing help, guidance, and money to help small businesses reach their own goals.

And in return, their gaining the most precious commodities of all in today’s business climate: attention and trust.

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