Twitter Delves Further Into E-Commerce With Buy Button

Between Facebook’s Buy button, Instagram’s Like2Buy link, and Saks Fifth Avenue’s shoppable portal of customers’ pictures, this has been the summer of social commerce. And it’s not over yet. Today, after months of speculation, Twitter unveiled a Buy button of its own.

The button will be embedded in individual tweets, allowing users to purchase items straight from their Twitter feeds. This monetization initiative is different from the social network’s previous foray into e-commerce, an Amazon partnership involving hashtags, which essentially required users to publicize their purchases. Twitter’s Buy button is also notably different from the one Facebook debuted in July, in that the two sites’ testers are polar opposites.

For Facebook, the businesses with Buy buttons on their pages are all SMBs, whereas Twitter’s guinea pigs are giants. The 19 beta testers include retailers like Burberry and Home Depot; Red, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting AIDS; and several pop stars.

“It’s fair to say that none of the leading social media platforms have really cracked e-commerce,” says Robin Grant, global managing director of London-based social media agency We Are Social.

“Pinterest has made a number of promising developments but still lags behind Facebook and Twitter in terms of adoption and investment, and most brands have historically struggled to make F-commerce work for them,” he says.

The focus on musicians selling tickets and merchandise may give Twitter’s social commerce efforts a leg up, as Eminem, Rihanna, Hunter Hayes, Wiz Khalifa, and Demi Lovato all bring massive followings to the table. With 37 million followers, Rihanna is the eighth-most-followed person on the entire platform.

But while Grant says that #AmazonCart demonstrated Twitter’s understanding of the platform’s viral power, many people may not even notice any Buy buttons, given how quickly the average feed updates.

“When marketers tire of the novelty, Buy Now could well end up alongside Facebook Gifts in the social commerce graveyard,” Grant says. “Flash sales, one-off promotions, or offers could perform well on the platform; sustained sales are a very different ball game.”

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