After seeing the little blurb buried deep in today’s Wall Street Journal
(p. B-9), I checked out the press release, and then headed to Facebook to see Visa’s new app aimed at small businesses. To gain that all-important viral effect, Visa is giving away $2 million in Facebook advertising credits, $100 to the first 20,000 businesses that join its new The Visa Business Network on Facebook (see note 1).
Visa’s Facebook page advertising the network looks good (see screenshot below). It’s very “corporate,” but I prefer that over lame attempts to look hip. It’s dominated by a large video at the top explaining the program, plus three more along the bottom explaining other aspects.
Visa Business Network (promotional) page on Facebook (24 June 2008)
Selecting the Join this Network button takes you to a page where you are encouraged to add the Visa Business Network app to your Facebook profile. After adding the app, you must complete a short form to identify your business to the network and upload a picture if desired.
It only takes a few minutes, and your company is visible to anyone searching the Visa Business Network. It doesn’t appear that Visa’s network is searchable through the regular Facebook search. If and when that happens, the network would gain considerably more value.
Here’s how my Visa Business Network page looked after uploading a graphic:
The application also features a Business Resource section with the usual collection of business tools (from Google), articles and videos plus an Ask the Expert section.
While the idea of a general business network within a larger network seems a bit superfluous, Facebook isn’t exactly known to be particularly accommodating to business needs. Maybe this will work. Certainly, if Visa attracts the 20,000 businesses it’s earmarked advertising credits for, it will have a head start on others wanting to do the same thing.
However, we wonder how much effort the card giant will devote to the service. It doesn’t seem to align that closely to its core card-processing business. But if its goal is to merely improve brand recognition with small business owners, it could be a valuable effort. Clearly Visa has the deep pockets to fund it for the long term. Who knows, maybe some lucky Business Network member will appear in a Visa Super Bowl ad some day.
1. The $100 advertising credit was handled flawlessly. A few minutes after joining the network, I received an email to my main email account explaining how to redeem the credit.