07 3 / 2012

American Express lately made strides in social — Foursquare users recently noticed Amex specials popping up during checkin. Now, Amex has teamed up with Twitter to bring more coupons to social:

Just tweet the branded hashtag and get the deal on your Amex card.

Widespread deal-tweeting won’t happen. Two hints.

The real deal.

  1. People know that tweeting promotions annoys their friends, and they don’t want to lose face.
  2. The coupons likely won’t be worth tweeting. (See the $5 McDonald’s coupon above. About 30 retweets on that.)
  3. Heavy users will create new Twitter accounts in order to send the promotional tweets (AKA what people who played Spymaster did). Fewer tweets will be seen by users’ friends, and the hashtag promotion will eventually lose steam and be forgotten.
  4. Besides that, the Amex hashtags are unappealing. They include the word “Amex” and are too long. Space on Twitter is at a premium, bro.

The secret to a successful Amex coupon campaign.

The secret to making the Amex/Twitter coupon program work is to award coupons in secret. Don’t require hashtags. Hashtags seem like a great way to track ROI, but requiring hashtags introduces social shame. People will mention brands more often when the incentive to do so is hidden by default.

Sharing will still happen — organically. People do share deals, when they genuinely want friends to take advantage of the opportunity.

But no, making sharing mandatory doesn’t work.