Industry Analysis – How Credit Card Companies Use Social Media

In Social Media & Online PR, The Digital Marketing Blog by SimonLeave a Comment

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Unexpected plans can turn out expensive. Whether it’s an upcoming birthday that you’ve forgotten about, or a hefty electric bill coming through the door just before Christmas, Credit Cards will always be there to provide you with the aim of short term financing.

This week’s industry analysis post takes a look at how the credit card industry targets it’s consumers through Social Media. With today’s economic climate undergoing a pinch on the purse strings – how is the credit card industry pushing the use of their services and what role is social media playing in their marketing mix.

American Express

Amex is over 160 years old and has over 90 million cards distributed around the world.  Research shows that Amex tends to attract higher end buyers than its competitors. Their ‘Card Member Communities’ cover the areas of travel and business. With the use of Social media it has helped bring these communities together through engaging content and conversation.

Their Facebook page boasts an impressive 4,450,154 likes and on Twitter they have a total of 655, 532 followers. According to Social Bakers they’re the 155th most popular brand on Twitter. Conversations about Credit Cards don’t normally tend to trend online, so Amex have created a number of different types of content to communicate and relate with their target audience.

Firstly, they’ve been teaming up with various luxury brands in order to deliver special offers and card discounts for one of the UK’s biggest events – The London Fashion Week. This is a fantastic way to gain sales and visibility within an ideal target market which is engrossed in huge excitement over the latest trends and styles. Also this community are highly present on Facebook, often sharing products and styles with their friends.


They’ve also been rolling out their fashion related posts onto Twitter as they’ve teamed up with Zappostyle and are encouraging users to Tweet their style in order to receive discounts and gift cards:

Another key target audience are frequent flyers, so they have collaborated with various travel groups and hotel providers to offer discounts with calls to action to increase the urgency of purchase.  


Finally, they provide fantastic content and ticket offers for music lovers. It’s not always easy to obtain high levels of engagement and interest on social media, but by delivering premium content that’s unique to a social platform, it gives fans and consumers a reason to re-visit your Facebook wall. #AmexUNSTAGED offers unique live videos of various music artists – see the example below which gives Facebook fans the opportunity to live stream a King of Leon gig:



Mastercard have a Twitter fan base of 61,433 followers and 6,937,224 Facebook fans. Social Bakers ranks Mastercard as the 120th most popular brand on Facebook above the likes of Pringles, Macdonald’s and Adidas. Let’s start by analysing their most popular platform – On Facebook Mastercard make the most of their sponsorship that they provide for Champions League football. With a huge captive audience around the globe, Mastercard showcase on their wall the unique opportunities that they provide for supporters and football fans. For example, the chance for kids to run out onto the pitch as a match day mascot.


They also integrate these prizes through Twitter which is another great way to gain further exposure.

As a result, Mastercard receive a fantastic amount of good PR and customer engagement from their prize givings:

These unique opportunities aren’t just restricted to sports, Mastercard also gave fans the chance to meet the cast of the ‘Sound of Music’ – a priceless event to match their #priceless slogan. These once in a lifetime opportunities are a fantastic way to engage with their customers as well as building brilliant brand authority.



Our last brand but certainly not least is, Visa. Of the 3 brands highlighted, Visa have the biggest following on Facebook, ranked as the 85th most popular brand by Social Bakers with 9,574, 529 fans. On Twitter they hold the second spot with regards to this case study, with a total of 117,889 followers. Visa released a marketing campaign for 2013 which aimed at targeting the huge amount of followers that love the NFL.  The aim was to bring fans closer to the action by giving away a series of gifts and timely offers relating to the competition.



At the centre of the campaign lays the ‘NFL Fan Offers’, which uses real-time communications to engage with Visa cardholders to get in with the chance of winning exclusive prizes such as:

  • Interview a NFL player
  • Watch the NFL from the Sidelines
  • Travel and tickets paid to Superbowl XLVLLL(2014)

These opportunities were brought to life through Social Media Channels namely Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, but first users had to enrol through the Visa website. All you need is an eligible account number, mobile and email address to enter. Once registered users can select there affiliation to their selected team to receive communication from Visa about the upcoming events and news surrounding the competition. The video below shows how Visa promotes this campaign through Youtube, showing past event where fans have gained exclusive access to backstage NFL areas and also getting the chance to meet one of the NFL’s most famous coaches and commentators – John Madden.

#Goinsix is a brilliant user generated content inspired campaign in where fans and followers have to create and send in 6 second short videos, photos or 6 word storylines, where Visa challenge customers to inspire and share what they love. The hashtag allows the competition to integrate across Twitter and makes up for a lot of the posts sent out to the Visa audience and fans.



What’s interesting to see is that there’s no posts from these brands on social telling people to sign up to their  credit services. They let their fantastic promotions, experiences and offers draw in the crowds, enticing them to want to be part of the brand experience.

Brand Comparison and Analysis

social analysis

Facebook brand analysis – Visa, Mastercard, Amex

The graph above highlights the interactions and engagement rates of the 3 brands on Facebook. Mastercard post the most but also receive the biggest engagement and interactions despite having a smaller fan base than Visa. We can also ascertain that American Express perform well in terms of interactions especially when you consider they have the smallest amount of fans.

twitter analysis

Key: (Orange=Visa, Green=Mastercard, Blue=Amex)

On Twitter, American Express are clearly leading when it comes to followers, their collaborations with various retailers are obviously working as they are bringing fans to come back for more fantastic and exclusive offers.

Twitter comparison

Key: (Yellow=Visa, Green=Mastercard, Amex=Blue)

Engagement rates on Twitter do differ, with Visa leading the way. Visa’s experiences that they offer and promote to followers create a huge amount of engagement and buzz. Not only that, the #Goinsix is one of the best promotions on Twitter that I’ve seen over – delivering a fantastic amount of user-generated content, buzz and engagement with some absolutely brilliant prizes being given away.


Despite the credit industry perhaps not being the most awe-inspiring product to market, the top brands are putting together some of the most fun and exciting consumer experiences on social media. The promotions and offers from Visa, Amex and Mastercard are the perfect example of brands giving back to customers exactly what they want – premium and exclusive offers and prizes.

These positive brand experiences are so important to persuade consumers why they should their brand over the other. It’s no wonder why some of major credit card brands are amongst some of the most popular brands on Facebook and Twitter.

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