Today, American Express unveiled a new program with Twitter to let cardmembers sync accounts with the social network, and earn savings from big brands such as Whole Foods, Best Buy, and Zappos--just by retweeting certain hashtags.
With the partnership, AmEx helps fortify its role as the credit card for the social media generation--and, apparently, following through on the whole Social Currency  idea beyond offering membership points rewards. In addition to its partnership with Twitter, the company, which boasts more than 90 million cardholders worldwide, has already rolled out a national program with Foursquare for check-in deals and Facebook for rewards through Likes. AmEx aims to be the connective tissue between merchants and consumers on social media that will provide a mix of offers, data, and branding to its members.
As with Foursquare, the process of syncing your AmEx account to your Twitter account is a quick, one-time process. Once linked, U.S. cardholders have the opportunity to earn rewards by tweeting special offers from hashtags. "Tweet #AmExWholeFoods, get $20 back 1x on next $75 in-store purchase," Whole Foods might tweet. Once the consumer tweets the #AmExWholeFoods hashtag, the offer is automatically loaded into that member's account, ready to be redeemed effortlessly the next time he or she shops at Whole Foods.
"Twitter is already being used as a platform to connect buyers and sellers, but no one has really nailed it in terms of proving that Twitter conversations can drive directly to commerce, or that tweets can really be linked to transactions," says Dave Wolf, VP of global business and market development at AmEx. "That's what we're really excited about doing."
The benefit of the service is as much about the deal for the consumer as it is the data for the merchant. "We can go to Whole Foods or any merchant we work with and give them information and analytics," says AmEx vice chairman Ed Gilligan. "How many people used the offer? What was the size of the shopping cart when they checked out? Did that customer come a week later or a month later?"
In other words, AmEx has finally developed a way to demonstrate a tweet's ROI--and not just in terms of commerce. The deals will also have a benefit on Twitter, leading to "more trending topics, more followers, and more conversations," says Leslie Berland, SVP of digital partnerships and development at AmEx. "Are our followers growing? Are people talking about our business? Are people engaging with our content?"
It's a social strategy AmEx has used to take the friction out of the point of sale, and turn something as simple as a hashtag into a potential future transaction. It's also a social strategy we should expect AmEx to continue to pursue beyond Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter.
"We want to go where our cardmembers are," Berland says. "So when you talk about Instagram, if they presented an opportunity where it evolved into something that would be a natural fit for this, we would definitely look at it. We are looking at platforms that both have scale, and that we're able to put our technology in in a very authentic way. But yes, we can do this with a variety of different partners, and we, candidly, have many partners beating down our doors to do exactly that."