How American Express is using social media to rewrite the rules of leisure marketing.

December 1, 2010


The Small Business Saturday campaign kicked off with a press conference led by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg..

Small Business Saturday is  good for small business.  And good for AMEX’s business.

American Express is proving that you can use social media to do leisure marketing and cause marketing at the same time.

The rules of leisure marketing say you have to take care of your sales first, the world’s problems second.  But American Express is proving you can do both at the same time.

The Small Business Saturday campaign is encouraging holiday shoppers to buy from small businesses

How? By creating a special shopping day the Saturday after Black Friday. And encouraging shoppers to buy from small businesses throughout the holiday season.

Here’s how Small Business Saturday works:

  • At the campaign’s Facebook page, visitors are invited to register their American Express card.
  • As a reward, AMEX gives them a $25 statement credit if they spend $25 at a small business that accepts American Express.
  • To build a strong Facebook following and do more good, American Express matched the first 500,000 “Likes” with a $1 donation to Girls, Inc., a charity that fosters female entrepreneurship.
  • To help small businesses even more, American Express partnered with Facebook to give 10,000 small business owners $100 of social advertising, including help designing their ads.
  • The campaign’s Facebook page also invites small businesses to download a campaign poster for their storefront, and embed a badge on their websites.

You can Tweet about your favorite local business right from the campaign's Facebook page.

More importantly, it’s encouraging sales where America and American Express needs them most: small businesses.

The campaign has been for the most part a Facebook promoted event, but also includes a PR blitz that featured a press conference with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

How successful is the campaign?

  • It’s still in the first few weeks, so no final tallies have been done.
  • But already, hundreds of newspapers, TV and radio stations and bloggers across the country have covered the story.
  • The campaign’s Facebook page has generated 1.9 million “Likes.”
  • Tens of thousands of visitors to the Facebook page have posted links to the page on their own Facebook pages.
  • Small businesses across the country have downloaded and are displaying the window signs.

I got so excited I found myself tweeting and posting to all my Facebook and Twitter followers.

The site makes it easy to tweet about the project, and post a link on your Facebook page. You can also give a shout out to your favorite local business.

The campaign is a great example of how a leisure brand can partner with other great brands to help out a good cause.

And directly impact its own bottom line in the process. Bravo to American Express and CP+B, the ad agency who helped them develop the campaign.

Looking for more examples of great cause marketing efforts?

Geoff Livingston co-founder of Zoetica and author of the award-winning book on new media, Now is Gone, gives several more examples in this post for Mashable:  5 Creative Social Good Campaigns For the Holiday Season.

Do you know of an interesting campaign idea that’s rewriting the rules of leisure marketing, cause marketing or social marketing?  Tell us about it.


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