Where Credit Is Due: AmEx Is Card King on Twitter

This post is part of the Twitter for Brands Series, which features winning strategies from the top brand pages on Twitter and provides tips on how to emulate their successes.

American Express has been a major player in the credit card game for decades, and when it comes to Twitter, it’s the clear-cut winner.

Since 2009, the main corporate handle, @AmericanExpress, has grown to over 437,000 subscribers (by comparison, @MasterCard has a little over 23,000 followers).

With that impressive number, it’s no surprise that Amex was recently ranked number one out of 90 top financial services that use social media in a report titled “Social Media Leaders” conducted by a New York research firm, Corporate Insights.

“Our mission is to be everywhere our cardmembers and merchants are — to engage with them, service them, deliver unique value that’s shareable, and create seamless digital experiences that surprise and delight,” says Mona L. Hamouly, one of two social media coordinators (Matt Burton is the other) that tweet for the @AmericanExpress handle.

“When we do a deep integration with a social media platform, we aim to bring unparalleled value to cardmembers, merchants, and the partner,” she says. And so far, the formula has been working.

Extra Credit for Cool Campaigns

One recent campaign in particular that has been garnering media attention is American Express’ new Sync service, which allows cardmembers to earn discounts by syncing their card to their Twitter accounts and using specific hashtags.

The merchant partners include Best Buy, Whole Foods, and McDonalds. Amex announced the launch of Sync at SXSW 2012 by giving out Jay-Z concert tickets to those who completed the sign-up process.

That’s just the latest example in a long line of Amex Twitter-centric initiatives aimed at keeping users engaged and feeling privileged, in the spirit of its “membership has its privileges” motto.

“We’ve launched a number of campaigns and contests via our Twitter page,” Hamouly says. “Everything from surprising followers with tickets to the US Open to Tweet-to-enter sweeps for prizes including trips to NBA All Star weekend, vacation pages, membership rewards prize bundles (comprised of popular items in the program), etc.”

Customer Service, Just a Tweet Away

Of course, behind all of the fun contests and rewards programs, the heart of American Express’ twitter strategy has everything to do with customer service.

A quick scan of its tweet stream shows that the majority of tweets are @replies, some of which urge cardmembers to connect with @AskAmex to handle their inquiry.

“The @AskAmex handle is purely focused on servicing cardmemebers and consumers who reach out to us via Twitter – that includes tweets directed to @askamex and/or @americanexpress or tweets that mention American Express that the team finds as they monitor the Twitterverse for chatter related to Amex,” explains Hamouly.

Notice that they monitor for mentions? That’s one of the vital ways that Amex keeps up with the conversation, says thanks when praised, and quickly addresses the concerns of unhappy customers to resolve their problems in a timely way.

The @AskAmex handle, which has 18,600+ followers of its own, is facilitated by five tweeters, whose collective goal is to help customers get assistance to questions, concerns, and issues.

All in all, Hamouly says American Express’ most important social media tactic is to pay close attention.

“Our social media strategy of listening closely, using a test-and-learn approach, and aligning programming to what resonates with our online audience and cardmembers helped us build an active community of cardmembers and prospects engaged in the brand experience,” she says.

And that community grows each day.

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