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Consumers ‘friend’ credit cards

By Marcie Geffner · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Posted: 12 pm ET

If you're a "fan," "friend" or "follower" of a credit card company or brand on a social networking service, you're not alone.

In fact, some 25 percent of people who have a credit card have made such a connection, according to a survey by Synergistics Research, an Atlanta-based marketing research firm.

Perhaps not surprisingly, though, these social connections appear to be more about self-interest than friendship.

In fact, one-third of the people who became a "fan," "friend" or "follower" of a card company or brand said they did so to find about special promotions and deals. Half as many people wanted to learn about or share experiences with the brand or company, and less than 10 percent had contacted a company via social media to request information or resolve a problem.

The survey, "Exploring the Changing Credit Card Market," was conducted via Internet interviews with 1,000 people aged 18 or older, according to the research firm.

Synergistics Chief Operating Officer Genie M. Driskill said in a statement that card issuers should "respect the social nature of the media," focusing their messages on discounts, promotional announcements and responses to customers' inquiries.

"The largest proportion of those pursuing a connection with a card issuer have done so for reasons of self-interest, such as to take advantage of special offers or promotions, rather than because they like the brand issuer or card," Driskill said.

The most popular way to establish a connection with a credit card brand or company was through Facebook -- though LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter were also used.

A little informal research suggests that becoming a "fan" or "friend" of a credit card issuer or brand isn't always straightforward because it's sometimes difficult to tell whether a Facebook page is or isn't official.

A search for "American Express" turns up a company page that has more than 1.2 million "fans," and an official "MasterCard" page has been "liked" by more than 38,000 people. But a search for "Citicard" returns half a dozen pages that don't appear to be company-sponsored and have limited numbers of "fans." A group called "I bet I can find 1,000,000 people who can't stand CitiBank and CitiCard" has a grand total of 47 members.

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff

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