Citibank’s parent company has developed an original way to use social media as a customer engagement tool. Citi released a Facebook application that ties in with its loyalty reward plan, for the first time making it possible to combine points toward a shared goal – while the company grows  a treasure trove of data.

The Citi ThankYou Point Sharing App enables customers who are also Facebook friends to pool their points together to make a charitable donation or to purchase an experience or a product from the program’s catalog. They must link their ThankYou account to their Facebook account in order to participate.

Supporting the app’s launch, the company is running an advertising campaign that includes giveaways of points. The app can also be used to do things like track points and create wish lists based on the ThankYou catalog.

ThankYou members earn points by using their credit card or their checking account. Citi had previously enabled members to transfer these points to another member using its online banking system, but widening the program with a Facebook app obviously gives the company access to considerably more information about its customers, their affiliations and their online behavior, which is especially valuable when combined with the transaction information contained in any loyalty rewards program.

“As our ThankYou members imagine all the ways to use their points this year, this app extends the possibilities,” Ralph Andretta, head of Co Brands and Loyalty at Citi Cards said in a statement. “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.”

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  1. Great use social media to engaging customers. In an era when every bank seems to be taking away or adding charges for services this adds value for both the bank and customer at no extra cost. It seems this will track ROI in a way that is not common in Social Media analytics? #eValue #SocialMediaROI

  2. This is a very smart move on Citi’s part. On one hand, they are testing a new approach to building their social media presence by allowing cardholders to share their rewards points, which makes sense and seems to be working.

    On the other hand, if successful, the experiment will give another push to the huge campaign U.S. issuers are currently waging with the aim of driving consumers away from debit cards and towards using their credit cards, which is already producing results. The Citi guys may not have thought of that when the point-sharing program was launched, but will surely welcome the positive (from their point of view) side effect.