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How Building Communities Leads to Commerce

Social media remains a hot button issue, even hotter over the past couple of weeks with Facebook’s valuation and subsequent reactions to its IPO. Add to the mix an evolving public perception of Google+ and Foursquare's very public push to be a large prescense at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, and you've got a lot of attention focused on one space.

In the midst of all of this media activity, Twitter took time out during Internet Week New York recently to showcase ways that partnerships with them can not only help brands build community but also provide avenues for that community to purchase goods and services. The theme of the event was The Conversation is the Canvas which further illustrates that, especially in social media, effective campaigns begin best with regular dialogue.

Here are a few highlights.

Social Media is as American as American Express

American Express social media

The highlight of the #Twitter4Brands presentation was provided by Leslie Berland, senior vice president of Digital Partnerships and Development at American Express. The credit card company famous for digital initiatives with Foursquare and Small Business Saturday has fully embraced the digital nature of their community which has been reinforced by their new partnership with Twitter.

The idea itself was obviously born in the old marketing and general life adage of K.I.S.S. and illustrated with the launch of this program at SXSW:

AmEx JayZ

1. Securely sync your credit card with Twitter.

  • Awareness of the program and launch was done in conjunction with GoGo Inflight Internet – a very smart move to connect with all of the people traveling into Austin for the tech part of SXSW.

2. Tweet specialized hashtags from merchants to load the offer directly to your credit card.

  • Create tweets with #JayZSyncShow.

3. You receive a tweet back from the American Express Sync Twitter account informing you that your discount has been loaded to your credit card;

  • Which is clear; and
  • Redeem your offer. The savings are already there.

American Express did not stop there. They also provided the hashtag #AmexAustin10 for use with any Austin-area merchant during the conference.

What AMEX did was very straightforward:

  • They pinpointed the merchant’s need – creating an easy, seamless service for a customer; and
  • Created a bridge between the merchant and customer so that an easy, seamless purchase can be made through an action the customer was very likely to already take.

By engaging in these two planning actions, they gave consumers no excuse or exit strategy to leave the offer. The consumer is (1) already active on Twitter; (2) engaged with the brand(s); and (3) doesn’t have to perform any “work” in saving. There’s no print coupon or print confirmation. There’s not even a coupon code which incidentally work pretty well. In this case, the consumer sees something they want to purchase, says they want to purchase the item(s) (which they would probably do due to FOMO) and makes the purchase: a truly organic user experience.

Allowing simple conversation—one of the most important aspects of social media—a brand is able to show their consumer that they are part of the process and, in turn, these consumers are more willing to naturally jump on the soapbox for the brand.

Please note:Twitter does not view community building with the help of hashtags and creating points of purchase as exclusive actions—there is a natural progression and purchasing is not forced. My colleagues in social media will appreciate that little disclaimer and you as a brand should surely appreciate and embrace this concept as well.

What do you think? Can you incorporate this type of community building in any of your campaigns? Let us know in the box below, we'd love to hear from you.

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