Credit Card marketing in Facebook

Rob Walker has an interesting article on how Chase has developed a credit marketing  program in Facebook.

“We felt Facebook would be a good partner for us, since they had such strong credibility in the students’ world,” explains Sangeeta Prasad, who oversees branding for Chase Card Services. “And we felt, you know, financial institutions lacked credibility. Students don’t see credit-card issuers or financial institutions in general as meeting their needs.” Thus the company started offering a new card it called +1, primarily by way of a “sponsored” Facebook group.

The +1 program was largely devised by Noise Marketing, a company that specializes in reaching young adults with nontraditional branding tactics. Making Facebook central to a college-focused effort had obvious advantages. “Everyone talks about the fragmentation of the media,” observes Noah Kerner, the C.E.O. of Noise Marketing. “Yet there’s never been such a concentration of people from one segment in one place before.” The Chase + 1 group has attracted so many participants in large part because of a rewards-program scheme. One tweak of this familiar tactic is that some of the rewards are tied to “credit education” material. Kerner maintains this coupling is what’s “really resonated” with students. “It’s connecting with them on a basic level: ‘O.K., you’re not trying to pull the wool over my eyes, and I appreciate that,’ ” he says.

That said, the education component doesn’t use precisely the same curriculum that, say, Consumer Reports would design. Students are advised not to spend money they don’t have, which is hard to argue with. But some might replace the counsel to “Pay at least the minimum due on time so you don’t waste money on late fees” with a blunt example of how fast debt can accumulate if the minimum is all you pay.

Kerner says that more good-behavior incentives are in the works — like rewards for paying your bill on time. And it’s the rewards that really seem to draw people in. The +1 system involves racking up “karma points.” You get 1 for joining the group, 15 for registering your +1 card, 5 for taking a brief “credit essentials” quiz and so on. These points can be disposed of only within Facebook: either spent at a special store (White Stripes’ “Icky Thump”: 10 points; Ticketmaster gift card: 35 points; Facebook T-shirt: 10 points), donated to one of several designated charities or given to other Facebook members.

Interesting isn’t it? Looks like there is a convergence of traditional direct marketing thinking with web and loyalty for which Facebook seems to be a great platform to begin with.

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