Credit cards catch on to social networking spend

41% of UK businesses now use social networking sites to win new customers, according to Regus – the office solutions company. The same survey found that a third of UK marketing budgets go straight into managing social networking sites.

So it’s perhaps not so surprising that credit card providers have started to catch on to social marketing spend. For two years now, American Express in the US has held a competition on Facebook which offers five companies a social media facelift and $20,000 to grow their businesses.

The same provider allows American business with some of its credit cards to buy advertising credits for the site with their reward points. AmEx also has a strong partnership with location-based networking site Foursquare.

In the UK we haven’t had such a clear link between business credit cards and social networking yet. As it has in the past with rewards such as prioritised ticket booking, it’s possible AmEx will migrate the service across the pond, though there’s no indication that such plans are afoot as yet.

So what are SMEs to do in the meantime?

A number of business credit cards already offer rewards largely in the same vein as consumer credit cards – that is, points exchanged for days out and ‘experiences’ as well as money off at retailers. All very nice but not much use for bolstering the marketing budget.

Julia Kukiewicz is editor of consumer information site Choose. The site offers market research and debate into the home media and mobile and personal finance industries, as well as covering rights issues for consumers. Follow Choose for more on twitter at @choosenet.