MasterCard's e-payments service has arrived - and it's evolved in part thanks to social media. Announced at the CTIA Wireless show in May 2012 as PayPass Wallet, it was rebranded as MasterPass with a splash in February 2013 at Mobile World Congress. The first implementations rolled out in Canada at the beginning of April for the e-commerce sites of Jaunt.ca, Grocery Gateway, Porter Airlines, and WagJag.
But social media revealed a problem: consumers who hadn't tried a mobile money solution seemed more interested in the products, while those who had adopted one were less positive about them.
A year ago, MasterCard began using Conversation Suite, a social media monitoring and engagement tool that lets it monitor and respond to conversations, blog posts, and press. A study by Prime Research, the company that built Conversation Suite for MasterCard and provides the data that drives it, found that conversations about mobile money were twice as likely to originate from a non-adopter. Early adopter sentiment was 58 percent positive, while those yet to adopt were 76 percent positive.
"As we headed into Mobile World Congress, we wanted to get a better sense of the conversation," says Marcy Cohen, vice president and senior business leader on MasterCard's Worldwide Communications team. The company didn't anticipate seeing such a fall-off in approval, according to Cohen. The results "led us to believe that we need to make our solutions simple."
Cohen is responsible for social media, as well as corporate relations for MasterCard. By using Conversation Suite to monitor both press and social media mentions in real time, she says, "At Mobile World Congress, we were really proactive in the conversation and dominated share-of-voice among all of our competitors, both in traditional and social media."
MasterCard also used Conversation Suite to shift the conversation during its PayPass press conference at the CTIA Wireless show in 2012. As a cross-functional team sat in front of the 40-foot LED Conversation Suite screen that's a focal point in its New York headquarters, they watched the live blogs and tweets from the press conference begin to wend their way across social channels.
"We quickly realized there was some confusion around what this product was going to be and how it would differ from Google Wallet. People also were concerned about safety and security," says Cohen. "We fed this feedback to the team that was demonstrating the product on the show floor and changed the messaging around the product. We also quickly figured out who was driving the conversation around the announcement and fed them some of our key points."
For example, her team created an FAQ that responded to some of the questions being asked, and they reached out via Twitter to the most influential people, offering one-on-one briefings. "We quickly turned the conversation," she says.
The Prime Research study looked at social commentary over a six-month period across 43 markets and in 26 languages. It found regional differences in consumer concerns and opinions. For example, the most positive countries overall were China, Australia, and the U.S., while the most skeptical countries were France, the U.K., and Canada.
Cohen says the timing of the survey - before product launch - allowed MasterCard to make tweaks to the product and messaging before it went to market. Her advice on making the most of social listening: "You don't want to do it when it's too late and you can't actually implement change. Do it at a time where you can take the insights and affect what the product actually looks like."
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.