I’ve never been a fan of Twitter users pimping for brands via sponsored tweets, especially when that relationship isn’t disclosed. But that’s what American Express cardholders can do now, thanks to a recently announced partnership between Twitter and AMEX.
“Now, American Express Cardmembers can sync their eligible Card with Twitter at sync.americanexpress.com/twitter, and when they tweet using special offer hashtags, couponless savings are loaded directly to their synced Cards – no coupons, no print-outs,” stated the March 6 press release.
When cardmembers use their synced card for qualifying purchases either online or in-store at participating merchants, the savings are automatically delivered via a statement credit. Participating merchant partners include Best Buy, McDonald’s, Whole Foods Market, Zappos and others.
Here are some examples of tweets from participating merchants regarding the discounts they offer.
I admit to being cynical about all this, but three questions come to mind that I’d like to address:
#1. Cardmembers as AMEX advertising army?
Sure, this is social commerce, but the question is, do cardmembers really want to position themselves as marketers for brands just to get a discount? This isn’t the first time sponsored tweeting has been done; SponsoredTweets.com, the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Ted Murphy, pioneered this practice years ago and even counts celebrity tweeters like Kim Kardashian within its ranks. (And you thought all those brand mentions in Kim’s Twitter stream were because she actually loved the brands?! Not!)
#2. Even more Twitter spam?
I’m sick and tired of Twitter spam, how about you? Do we really want even more of it? Honestly, I no longer pay attention to my main Twitter feed, just @mentions and DMs, and I get spammed there too! So, a big “no thank you” to American Express for adding to the load.
#3. Is full disclosure mandated?
I read the terms of service governing this program and nowhere in there did I see anything that mandated full disclosure of the nature of the relationship between the cardholder and the brands being advertised. (Maybe I missed it, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)
To be sure, the Federal Trade Commission requires disclosure. “When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience), such connection must be fully disclosed,” states the FTC guidelines.
Ed Gilligan, Vice Chairman at American Express said regarding the program, ”American Express is turning Twitter content into commerce by connecting Cardmembers to merchants and delivering real world value to both. With the continued convergence of online and offline commerce, our closed loop continues to enable us to bring seamless, relevant ways to connect our cardmembers and merchants on the most powerful social and digital platforms.”
It all sounds good, and cardmembers can pimp themselves out like sidewalk barkers on Bourbon Street if they wish, but the first time I see one of these in my Twitter stream I’m blocking the SOB that tweets it. My motto is: just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Brands, take heed. In my opinion, this isn’t a social commerce best practice. But, feel free to prove me wrong. I’m always open to correction.