American Express Takes Social Commerce To The Next Level

This weekend I met up with friends and colleagues downtown for a get together at Slows Bar B Q. Going through my typical habit of “checking in” on Foursquare (I’m 9 days away from becoming the mayor), I noticed a special running – if I sync my American Express card with Foursquare, I could save $5.00. It would be completely frictionless moving forward, I don’t have to show my phone at point of sale, and it would automatically deduct $5.00 from my bill in the form of a statement credit.

On March 6th, American Express announced they were offering the ability to further marry commerce and social media through the ability to sync your tweets with your American Express card. By both following and tweeting hashtags such as #amexfashion #amexsushi or #amexcoffee for example, you could find yourself saving in the form of a bill credit based on offers that are contextual to those specific hashtags.

I can’t imagine the complexities involved in managing their billing system infrastructure, but what I do know is what drives them to incorporate (and innovate) social media into the very heart of their service offerings  is a desire to stay connected to their customer’s needs and evolve.

UPDATE: Conversations in the halls at work with Scott Monty and the epiphany hit us. American Express was your father’s credit card! Has any brand changed their perception like American Express has over the last half decade? Absolutely mind blowing to think about.

You Are Here: The Confusing Landscape of Social Networks Just Got More Confusing


You’re out on a date when your wife asks if you want to head to the local comedy club to see her favorite comedian perform. “Sure, why not?” you say. His jokes are pretty entertaining, and his last HBO special that aired had you chuckling.

So off you go to the club, taking a table close to the stage, sitting through the opening act and without further adieu, the featured performer takes the stage!

There’s only one problem. The jokes all seem familiar. Yes, you heard them before.  In fact it’s the same act you saw on television. Annoyed, you clap politely, and force a smile when your wife exclaims, “Wait for the punch line this is a good one!”

The predictability’s killing you.

You see this is the conundrum that every social media manager faces.

Two is company, three’s a crowd…

Life was so much simpler 12 months ago. If you were overseeing content distribution across social media platforms, your focus was most likely bifurcated between twitter and Facebook. Sure you’d host your videos on Youtube, your images on Flickr, and your documents on Scribd, but they didn’t have the same internal visibility as the other two. This may be generalizing, but I’ve worked with enough CMO’s to boldly point out that they perceived the latter as curation sites and the former as relationship building ones.

So life’s good. You have your weekly editorial calendar, your humming along on interacting with your communities, and then Google drops a bomb on social media.


Ohai +1…

Hear that? It’s the collective world both yawning and groaning concurrently. The very prospects of Google+ have left the world of social media divided. On one side of the argument are purists who believe content is federated, and as such will make for the bed of straw necessary to house the stables. “Isn’t content agnostic?” they ask.

On the other side of the argument we’ll call them the social media compartmentalists, argue that the content you share on Facebook has very little opportunity to succeed on other channels based on the fact that community personas are distinctly different even if speaking to the same person.

Let’s put it out there. Both sides of the argument are right. Yes, content is free to roam the binary plains of the internet. Conversely, optimizing content is a necessity to reach your audience in a manner that they’re most receptive to. And that starts with understanding the behaviors of each respective community you manage.

For example, there’s a ton of pressure, both internally and externally for brands to develop a Pinterest presence. In fact one of the first questions I personally received while speaking at a Cincinnati Social Media Club meeting was specifically about when not if my employer will provision a pinboard.

This is completely backwards. We, as social media strategists, shouldn’t be expected to jump in the proverbial social media pool head first without knowing how deep the water is. By rushing into the “next big thing” you run the risk of incurring more damage than actually being methodical. And speaking of methods, here’s a quick one to keep in your back pocket while facing internal pressure to evaluate new channels:

  • Observe – What is the purpose of the channel?
  • Define – What value do you bring to the community?
  • Develop – How do you plan on engaging?
  • Learn – What are the metrics you will apply to help define success?
  • Optimize – How will you use your metrics to create deeper levels of engagement through insights?

In Conclusion

New channels aren’t going away. Quite the opposite, in this era of new entrepreneurialism, we will continue to see burgeoning social networks placed squarely between the eyes of the hip and trend setting. Yesterday’s Google Plus is today’s Pinterest. Today’s Pinterest may be tomorrow’s Diaspora. And so forth…

What’s lost on our shift from one social channel to the next is how this impacts our user base. I found a great quote I wanted to share with you; a passage from a post I read on Horse Says Internet. Nothing I’ve read so succinctly defines the point of inflection (and point of view) we as social agents, consumers of content and producers of engagement face every minute, of every hour of every day.

The idea of being able to seamlessly manage different identities on different parts of the Web is a holy grail that remains practically elusive. We think that because we can do this in real life, be a different person at work, at a bar, in our photography club, with our family, etc., we should be able to do this online. But in real life we shift identities intrinsically, with very little conscious curation, as many pieces of psychology research have shown…Online, where identities are much more publicly visible and personal branding much more explicit, there is a certain “natural monopoly” that the incumbent social networks have established (Facebook for personal, LinkedIn for professional, etc), and this will make it hard for new entrants to displace them.

Keep calm my friends, and carry on.

Lebron James Ushers Us Into The Lean Anywhere Paradigm

It started with a tweet from ESPN’s Bill Simmons earlier this afternoon.

Which lead to a click on the link to the video he mentioned as a must see.

Which further lead to the epiphany that:

  1. Lebron James just cemented a top 3 career highlight.
  2. The game was still taking place while I was watching said highlight on Youtube.

This was either the smartest marketing in NBA history – to quickly package highlights as shareable infosnacks and feed them to the masses of consumption hungry enthusiasts, or simple luck that someone had the foresight to push a highlight up before the game was even over. It goes without saying, I firmly believe “the dunk” may have just cemented the convergence of lean forward with lean back media consumption.

Substantiating all of this was the post-game interview with Lebron where our ESPN sideline reporter whipped out her handy iPad to show him that not only was the clip worthy of burning cellular bandwidth, but it was already viral.

Am I actually seeing this?! Whatever happened to the standard NBA copyright statement read before and after every game?!

I think it’s fair to say it’s officially been obliterated.

No media professional could have predicted where and how we would be consuming content but the signs were there. Whether you call it democratized content, transient media or “lean anywhere”, somewhere in a jail cell in New Zealand, Kim Dotcom is laughing at all of us making paper airplanes out of SOPA legislation documents.

It’s cliche but the world IS changing. It’s constantly changing actually and we are so close to living that AT&T “So four seconds ago” parody it’s scary. Oh we’ll get there too. Just wait until Google gets their act together with Hangouts On Air. Then I’m convinced clips will turn to streams, and we’ll be watching, engaging, commenting and +1’ing all forms of media in as real time as real can get.

The future’s crazy and I saw a glimpse of it through the power of a single slam dunk.