Experian Has Sophisticated Presence on Facebook

Credit bureau engages chatty customers on the top social network, but says it doesn't mine the data for marketing purposes.

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Tue, May 15, 2012

CIO — Experian has a sophisticated presence on Facebook, but says it doesn't mine that data

Facebook, the most visited site on the Internet, houses a gold mine of information for marketers eager to know what consumers think and do. And little excavation is needed: Facebook's 845 million users willingly post personal tidbits during the 53 billion minutes they spend on the site in a given month.

As the three credit bureaus--Experian, TransUnion and Equifax--delve deeper into products and services that help businesses profile potential and existing customers, Facebook becomes a natural place for these companies to dwell. All three maintain pages there, but it's the one with the smallest following that's doing the most interesting things.

Experian, with a little over 6,460 fans, uses Facebook to promote its financial literacy program and to try to educate individuals, one-on-one. The company posts a mix of tips, news stories and inspirational quotes. It also posts chatty status updates that often ask questions designed to get people to respond. "Happy President's Day! Who is your favorite president?" "The most I ever spent on a meal was $____." "What are you saving up for right now?"

Competitor Equifax, by contrast, mainly issues statements about financial topics and points its 122,650 fans to its corporate blog, where it promotes products and services.

Experian's goals are to engage consumers, promote financial literacy and strengthen the Experian brand, says Gerry Tschopp, senior vice president of public relations. He insists that the company isn't mining consumer activity on its Facebook page for marketing purposes. "No. That's not the forum for anything like that," Tschopp says.

"We're trying to get them to act and change their lives. To think, 'Maybe I should save. Maybe I should pay down my bills,'" adds Maxine Sweet, vice president of public education at Experian. Sweet also writes an "Ask Experian" consumer column on the company's website.

Some consumers share too much, asking for financial advice or revealing personal details on Experian's Facebook page or its website. But for Experian to dive into those conversations would violate regulations and internal ethics guidelines, Sweet says. Instead, inappropriate questions or revelations are heavily edited or not published, she says. "People get very personal with us."

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