Editorial Policy

Will Tweet For Deals: AmEx Joins Forces With Twitter

Marcia Frellick

March 12, 2012

Would you tweet to get discounts at major stores and restaurant chains? American Express and Twitter hope you will. The two companies have teamed up in a joint venture that puts a unique spin on the daily deals programs already made popular by Groupon and LivingSocial.
Here’s how it works: Customers who have American Express consumer or business card accounts must link their cards with their Twitter accounts. The card syncing page will require you to sign into Twitter and then enter additional information like your name, card number and email address.
Once your card is linked with your Twitter account, you can send out a tweet to your followers with a hashtag (the # identifier that works as a search term on Twitter) that is unique to a particular deal a store is offering. AmEx recognizes the hashtag (because you’ve linked your card to your Twitter account), and the discount is automatically loaded into your card. After you buy the item or service with that card, the discount is credited to your account in one to three days.
For example, qualified customers who tweet #AmExMcDonald’s, could get $5 back on their next $5 minimum in-store purchase. The Cheesecake Factory has a deal for $10 off $50 spent at the restaurant if you tweet #AmExCheesecake.
This system has time-saving advantages for both consumers and store clerks. The consumer doesn’t have to leave Twitter to look up a deal on a website, access a promotion code and then print out a coupon. And, because the deal’s hashtag automatically loads the discount onto a customer’s card account, store clerks don’t have to be notified.
For American Express, it’s a way to get discounts to its customers and potentially attract new business. If you’re sending out the deals to all of your Twitter followers, they will see the American Express name associated with bargains, even if they themselves aren’t American Express users and don’t qualify for the deals.
For Twitter, it is a step toward a business model that would generate income through advertising and promotions.
“American Express is turning Twitter content into commerce by connecting cardmembers to merchants and delivering real world value to both,” said Ed Gilligan, vice chairman of American Express, in a statement.
Companies, meanwhile, hope consumers will be willing to take on the role of advertisers in exchange for exclusive bargains. Merchants who signed on for the launch include 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Best Buy, Century 21 Department Store, The Cheesecake Factory, Dell, FedEx Office, FTD, Gulf Oil, H&M, McDonald’s, Seamless.com, Sports Authority, Ticketmaster, Virgin America, Whole Foods Market and Zappos.
The program has drawn some criticism, however. Twitter users could get annoyed by what amounts to more ads in their Twitter feeds — and be less likely to use Twitter themselves. Some critics are questioning what kind of information AmEx (and all the businesses that are offering the deals) will be able to collect about consumers who are essentially granting them access to their social media habits.