December 2, 2013, 1:58 PM

American Express turns social media posts into discounts

Cardholders can get deals from Zappos and others via specific hashtags.

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American Express Co. cardholders can access exclusive deals by posting on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare or TripAdvisor using retailer-specific hashtags, such as #AmExZappos for $30 off a $150 purchase at Zappos.com.

To access the deals, cardholders first must sync their cards to one of their Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare or TripAdvisor accounts. Then, when a shopper posts on his linked social network using a special offer hashtag, the applicable discount is loaded onto his account and applied “within days” when he uses his card at the participating merchant. Any word that starts with a pound sign (#) is a hashtag, which becomes a clickable link to all other mentions of that word.

Shoppers can find retailers’ offers and the related hashtags in the My Offers tab on Facebook, foursquare and TripAdvisor. They can see them on Twitter by clicking on the Favorites tab on the @AmericanExpress page on the social network.

Among the retailers’ participating in the promotion, which American Express dubs “AmEx Sync,” are J.C. Penney Co. Inc., No. 34 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide, Sony Electronics Inc., No. 17, and Newegg Inc., No. 14.

“We are working closely with our merchant partners to help them to reach the right card members with the right offers at the right time,” says an American Express spokeswoman.

In addition to the promotions it offers via AmEx Sync, American Express is also collaborating with Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the Top 500 Guide, to give shoppers a $25 statement credit when they spend $75 at Amazon.com through Dec. 31 using their American Express cards after they register their cards on AmericanExpress.com.

American Express also let shoppers register their cards for $10 off purchases at participating retailers on “Small Business Saturday,” a shopping event American Express created in 2010 to encourage shoppers to buy from small merchants. Small Business Saturday falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Consumers and businesses talked up Small Business Saturday on Facebook. Mentions related to Small Business Saturday jumped 1,200% on Saturday, compared with the daily average a week earlier. The use of the hashtag  #SmallBusinessSaturday on Facebook increased 2,300% the week leading up to the event compared to the previous week, making it one of the five most often used hashtags on the social network, a spokeswoman says.

Facebook users also increasingly used phrases related to Small Business Saturday in their posts. For example, the number of posts including the term “shop small,” was up 550% on Saturday compared to the previous week’s daily average and the hashtag #shopsmall, rose 900% compared to the previous week’s daily average.

In related payment card news, MasterCard International Inc. last week launched a free two-day shipping promotion when shoppers use a MasterCard credit or debit card at BestBuy.com, QVC.com, Macys.com, Kohls.com and Walmart.com.

To get their shipping costs reimbursed, shoppers must visitFreeShippingByMasterCard.com to register their cards. Then they have to e-mail their order confirmations to MasterCard to receive a statement credit for the cost of two-day shipping, up to $20 per order. Shoppers can also pay a $69 annual fee to receive free shipping credits at more than 24 retailers throughout the year.

“We know that free shipping is something shoppers are looking for during the holiday season,” says Anant Nambiar, MasterCard senior vice president, global consumer product development.

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