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Hashtags can now save you money when you shop

AmEx Savings Program

With 2011 noted as the year of the hashtag, American Express wants to continue banking on the success and popularity of the metadata symbol by partnering with Twitter to let customers tweet hashtags to earn savings at major retailers.

The new program allows AmEx cardmembers to sync their credit cards with their Twitter accounts so they can use hashtags the way they would with coupon codes when shopping online. The savings are anticipated to be a cash back type of discount, with the official “Tweet your way to savings” program’s example showing Whole Foods Market offering $20 back for the next $75 in-store purchase by April 30. 

AmEx Twitter DiscountsSome discounts could even result in a free transaction, as seen in American Express’ Twitter account showing a list of retailers that agreed to a partnership with the program. Of the many brands associated with AmEx, McDonald’s is offering $5 off the next $5 and up purchase, giving customers just enough loot for one free meal. The range of brands vary widely, from Best Buy to Sports Authority to Seamless.

“American Express is turning Twitter content into commerce by connecting Cardmembers to merchants and delivering real world value to both,” AmEx vice chairman Ed Gilligan said in a statement. “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.”

Gilligan said the service also benefits retailers as they can use the tweeting information to study how successful the program was in attracting customers, new and old, during the social media age. They also hope to track if the person who tweeted for the discount ended up coming to earn their reward.

“Are our followers growing? Are people talking about our business? Are people engaging with our content?” said Leslie Berland, SVP of digital partnerships and development at AmEx. “We want to go where our cardmembers are … We are looking at platforms that both have scale, and that we’re able to put our technology in in a very authentic way.”

Earning rewards by interacting on social media sites is not particularly a new idea, especially not from American Express. The credit card company recently partnered with Foursquare to let check-ins at various businesses earn savings on your purchases. To unlock the discount, a customer has to present the unlocked reward to the local business before receiving a credit back to their bank statement.

With businesses already offering Foursquare perks for check-ins, it won’t be a huge surprise if AmEx ends up with discounts from national brands as well as small shops. AmEx should start its own Twitter for each city to provide hyper local deals, just as the discount aggregator Scoutmob has with Foursquare.