Is Twitter Becoming an E-commerce Platform?

September 29, 2014 / By

Following a year-long trend of continuous platform upgrades, over the next few months Twitter will be rolling out a “Buy Button” that can be embedded in posts to allow users to buy a product with a couple of clicks. The feature, which will initially be limited to mobile and aimed at selling time-sensitive items like T-shirts and event tickets, could create a new revenue stream and eventually transform Twitter into an e-commerce platform.

The button will work very similarly to Amazon’s “One-click buying.” Once a user clicks on the “Buy Button” they will then be prompted to enter credit card and shipping information or, if it is already on file, ask them to click again to confirm the purchase. The initial sellers include Burberry, The Home Depot, the Red Campaign, etc. Over the next few months, the company expects to broaden the list of sellers and increase the visibility of its e-commerce tweets as the holiday shopping season approaches.

How will brands respond?

Since brands started incorporating social media into their marketing mix, the industry has been chasing one universal question — does social media drive revenue? Despite social media being applauded for its ability to develop and sustain deeper relationships with consumers, a desire to tie social media directly to purchase intent have rarely subsided. In several cases, brands have attempted to turn the platform into a direct response tool by solely touting key features and benefits versus creating content that connects with their audience. That use of Twitter rarely results in a deeper connection between consumers and brands; which is a differentiating benefit that Twitter offers compared to many other marketing channels.

This latest platform release will only add more fuel to the “purchase intent” fire. Although there is no crystal ball to predict how all brands will react to this latest announcement, here are multiple scenarios that we predict could happen:

  • The offering will attract more brands to the platform as it will be easier to connect purchase numbers to social media efforts.
  • For those who understand the importance of creating content that leverages what their audience is truly interested in, the “buy button” will be a complementary component to their messaging mix. Instead of using the tool to showcase the latest products, these brands will evaluate on a case-by-case basis what their consumer really wants before deciding what to market.
  • In some cases, some brands will rely too heavily on this service and steer away from a content strategy built on engagement and conversation; users will likely leave the platform as the experience they have come to know will be gone.

At the end of the day, the brands that will be the most successful will place a higher value on what their consumer wants based on how they are consuming media. Twitter’s greatest strength is its ability to showcase personality and shape perception of the content publisher. If word of mouth is social currency, the brands that talk “with” versus “at” their consumers, will be able to drive revenue, whether there is a buy button or not.

Photo Credit: Tabaq.com

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