As social media becomes a more important part of its marketing strategy, JPMorgan Chase & Co. is lining up partnerships in the hopes of getting its upscale credit card users communicating more online.
Just how far a card issuer can use social media to drive transactions and higher market share, however, is hard to measure.
"The big problem with card issuers' line of logic is that a brand's cardholders are not a community," Ron Shevlin, a senior analyst with Aite Group, says. "There is no sense of community or connection between two or more people simply because they have the same credit card."
Chase is aiming to change that.
The New York-based company recently signed deals with Conde Nast's Golf Digest and cable TV's Golf Channel to back a marketing program for Chase Sapphire credit card customers. The bank allows cardholders to redeem their card rewards for special golf experiences.
For the first time, Chase will harness customized content from the two golf-media companies to power an app (formerly a "Facebook tab") within the Chase Sapphire Facebook fan page, Jennifer McGarry, marketing director of Chase Sapphire, said in an interview.
Chase's goal with the feature is to go beyond merely promoting its brand through social media by luring consumers into using Chase's Sapphire Facebook page to actually make weekend and travel plans together, McGarry says.
The Facebook app allows users to list the golf courses they've played on, compare experiences with friends and set up golf games. The app provides information about upcoming golf events and tips from pros.
"This is the first time we've offered something specifically geared to helping people make plans and appointments together through our Facebook site, as we look for more ways for our customers to share content beyond a standard post," she says.
Chase launched its Sapphire page on Facebook last year and it has more than 48,000 fans, McGarry says.
Until now the Sapphire page has emphasized the card's various travel rewards. Chase Sapphire for several years has also offered cardholders access to special events at the Sundance Film Festival. Recently it added recipes on its Facebook page associated with its sponsorship of Bravo's culinary-competition cable TV show, "Around The World In 80 Plates Presented by Chase Sapphire Preferred."
Promoting golf events is not a new strategy for Chase Sapphire, but golf will be a bigger focus of special events through its new media partnerships, McGarry says.
For the moment, Chase does not use social media to drive card transactions or even to attract new card applications online, McGarry says.
"For Chase Sapphire, we are leveraging social media platforms for what they were designed to do — to engage customers in their lifestyles," she says, "and we are aligning our content around that goal."
While the goal of driving "engagement" through social media is a noble one, converting it to bottom-line results will be tricky, Shevlin says.