Would you ‘Twurchase’ from Twitter?

Would you ‘Twurchase’ from Twitter?
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Retweets and likes are cool, but if you want to hang in the world of social media right now, it’s all about ‘Buy’, says Kate French, community manager at The White Agency.

We’ve all seen a product on a social channel and thought, “I want that!” Soon, thanks to Twitter, you might be able to buy that item right from the tweet it was featured in… but the question remains, would you?

Last week, Twitter announced that they are testing a ‘Buy’ button which advertisers will be able to embed into tweets so that people can buy directly from Twitter itself. Users can go from tweet to completed purchase in just a few taps – hence the start of a new revolution I’m coining “Twurchase”.

After clicking the ‘Buy’ button within a tweet, users will be given additional product details and be prompted to enter shipping and payment information (apparently safely stored to prevent multiple entries).

The trial is kicking off with a number of US test partners including retailers, charities and musicians but will expand to further partners in the US and around the world, including Australia. Learn about the update from the horse’s mouth and peruse the full list of test partners here.

Twitter isn’t the only social network testing these waters; it seems to be the season of social ecommerce. Back in July, Facebook announced that it was testing similar functionality on its platform, Instagram brought in Like2Buy links and Apple has just unveiled a new phone-based payment system. Social networks are jumping on the opportunity to close the loop between content that is shared on the platform and sales.

The motivation for social networks to explore ecommerce is obvious – firstly it’s an additional revenue stream giving social the chance to participate in the transaction. It also creates another reason for people to stay on the site and is a major selling point for advertisers.

So what differences does Twitter’s new ‘Buy’ button have to Facebook’s first stab and does it have more potential for success?

  • For Facebook, the brands with ‘Buy’ buttons on their pages are all small and medium businesses, whereas Twitter’s lab rats are retailers like Burberry and Home Depot, as well as several high profile music artists. These influencers could help drive users to make purchases. Artists like Eminem, bad gal RiRi and Demi Lovato all bring colossal followings to the table giving Twitter’s social ecommerce a leg-up.
  • Twitter’s ‘Buy’ button is also not a promoted tweet and will only be seen by existing followers, who may be more likely to convert. The idea is that since the potential purchasers are already fans of the seller, they are more inclined to buy.
  • Another advantage for Twitter is that it is truly a real-time network and the ‘Buy’ functionality is initially aimed at selling limited-edition or time-sensitive items. To encourage users to start using this feature, creating a sense of urgency will be a real plus for Twitter.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though; one area of concern is user trust. Although the company has experimented with ecommerce before, this is the first time it will be storing user payment details in its own systems. And we all know people tend to have an adult ‘tanty’ when it comes to social sites and apps having access to our information – the backlash to Facebook’s new Messenger app anyone?

Now Twitter has updated its security and privacy policies to reassure users that their payment and shipping details will be held securely and encrypted, meaning they’ll only have to enter their payment information once. Whether users entrust their details to an unproven retail player may act as a standard for the future of social commerce.

Another obstacle for Twitter could be that it is characteristically a frantic, messy place, which most of the time is part of the beauty of the channel. It’s the hyper-active child of social networks with new tweets coming at you quickly. Even if you saw something you were interested in buying, odds are a new tweet has caught your attention before you can hit the buy button.

So this all sounds very exciting for Twitter – high five Twitter! But let’s get to the bit we really care about: what this means for brands. How can brands use the ‘Buy’ button to engage with consumers and make it feel like a more personal shopping experience for them? One possibility could be sending ‘buy’ tweets to people that have retweeted or spoken about their product, or recommending products based on customer queries. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you tweeted a brand asking what accessory you needed for a particular product and they came straight back to you with buy now message for that product. Now that’s customer service.

At this stage, I can’t say I see ‘Buy’ buttons taking anything away from a brand’s primary website. In actuality, if a brand is constantly tweeting or posting the full spring catalogue, it may push consumers away. Rather, I think this will be particularly useful for limited-edition and time-sensitive offers, as well personalising the shopping experience for consumers.

There is surely more to come in the epic saga of social ecommerce and it will be interesting to see how other channels react. Particularly networks like Pinterest, which I find to naturally be a much more ‘shoppable’ channel, where I am already actively seeking out things I want. In the meantime, happy twurchasing!

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