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3 New Facebook Apps That Differentiate: Citi, Mercedes and KLM Airlines

Written by: David Noam, Marketing Intern

With the new year has come a rush of new technologies and products as companies battle to capture the attention of consumers. More than ever before, companies are recognizing the vast potential that social has to offer, and are actively integrating Facebook Apps into their products in an effort to differentiate themselves and forge deeper relationships with their customers. From financial institutions to car manufacturers, companies are focusing their efforts on incorporating one of America’s new favorite past times into their product offerings—social connections. While companies once invested much of their money into radio and TV, they are now investing more and more into interactive advertisements and other offerings relevant to the social media world and their customers’ personal lives.

Here are three of our favorite new interactive Facebook apps designed to differentiate each company in 2012:

Citi’s ThankYou Points Sharing App

CitiBank recently unveiled their newest add-on to the ThankYou Rewards program: the ability to pool, give, or receive ThankYou Points via Facebook. The ThankYou Rewards program was introduced last year as the typical credit card rewards program with a twist: customers could transfer rewards to other Citi customers on the CitiBank ThankYou Rewards site. Responding to customer feedback, Citi built a Facebook app to help improve the program.

“With the new ability to pool points together through their social networks, ThankYou members can rally their friends towards a bigger reward— whether they are interested in combining points to book a weekend getaway or supporting a common cause. Citi is constantly listening to our clients as part of our commitment to deliver rewarding experiences that fit into their increasingly digital world. This new app is a first in the marketplace and a fun, flexible way to share ThankYou points experiences,” said Ralph Andretta, who heads CitiBank’s loyalty and co-branded cards program.

Members who sign up for the Facebook App can now create a group, set a particular points goal, and invite friends to pool ThankYou points for individual/group purchases or charity donations. But be careful; whoever creates the group has control over the points! The program is a great use of the Facebook platform, and separates CitiBank from other payment card companies by recognizing the social potential of a rewards program.

Mercedes Benz’s Facebook Enabled Cars

This past week at the CES 2012, Mercedes Benz revealed their new mbrace2 telematics system — a new smart screen dashboard system with high-speed wireless Internet equipped with specially designed Google, Yelp and Facebook Apps. The mbrace2 telematics system was created for their new 2013 models, and will be first seen on the 2013 SL-Class this spring. Recognizing the inherent safety issues with installing a Facebook enabled dashboard in their cars, Mercedes engineers worked with Facebook developers to design a stripped down version of Facebook centered around location. Drivers can check in to see who is near them, or see a list of nearby restaurants their friends have liked. In addition, Mercedes created a series of pre-written messages, which can be published with a few clicks that state the driver is enroute to the destination, and provides an ETA based on the current traffic. No word yet on how advertisements will play into this service, but it certainly would present a great opportunity for localized and targeted ads.

KLM Airlines’ Meet & Seat  

In an act that is sure to be met with equal amounts of enthusiasm and skepticism (count us among the enthusiastic), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is developing a Facebook App which allows passengers to select their seat neighbors based on their Facebook profiles. This is a great angle for KLM to take. Not only are they attempting to make their flights more enjoyable, they are making the flight an event—an opportunity to meet someone new, be it for friendship, business, or, though they might not explicitly state this, romantic purposes.  Who says you can’t incur a serendipitous encounter? Not to worry, both passengers must not only opt into the program, but agree to sit next to each other.

All three of these companies have clearly incorporated social into their marketing strategy by leveraging the social graph. What other Facebook Apps have been released lately that work to differentiate? Let us know in the comments!

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