visa goIt’s shaping up to be a big week for social media. Now Visa is making some social media news, this time on a more conventional platform than other recent entries, like Skittles.  The credit card is launching its first global advertising campaign, complete with a microsite, rich media banner ads with live video feeds from international locations, and a multicultural twist on Flickr.

The “More People Go With Visa” campaign’s microsite will feature a
“Gosaic,” which is Visa-speak for a collection of images submitted by
people through Flickr along with recommendations from them about
experiences that can be enabled through a Visa card. The “Gosaic” will
feature more than 200 merchant offers delivered to users depending on
their interests, location, and time of day. The whole thing launches
with ads on Fox’s “American Idol” tomorrow night, March 4.

While most of the attention around will focus on the advertising cost efficiencies gained through a global campaign, two other issues are critical. First, Visa is executing a social network through an established partner instead of completely going it alone, a la the Skittles social media effort. Expect the great majority of brands to follow this model because they simply don’t have the expertise or the personnel numbers to support anything else.

Second, think loyalty. It’s not front and center in Visa’s announcement, but this effort will make Visa customers more aware of international purchasing options and feed the Visa database with information about customer behavior. That information feeds loyalty program efforts. In the US alone, 240 million people are part of a credit card loyalty program, according to a recent report from Colloquy. Now Visa can start to tie the US loyalty program into the UK, EU, and AsiaPac. That’s the tangible social media benefit, and it’s very clever.

Now if social media programs could add some fire to the current credit freeze, Visa and other financial service brands would be in better shape.