Facebook & Twitter to join the “Buy” bandwagon


According to a recent study by eMarketer, India records the highest social networking growth as the number of active social network users in the country has grown by 37.4 percent in 2013. Even though the overall internet penetration is low in India, the number of active social media users in urban India is expected to cross 80 million this year, as opposed to 63 million in 2013. From being online platforms solely used for social interactions, to becoming a significant part of the marketing strategy for brands today, the growth of social media networks like Facebook & Twitter has been tremendous.

Twitter joins Facebook in offering “Buy” button to directly buy on these platforms

As the pressure is mounting on these social media networks to prove that they are successful sales channels, they are constantly making efforts to modify & introduce new advertising options. The latest buzz is that Twitter is following the footsteps of Facebook in testing a ‘Buy’ button that will now let users shop from their social media sites itself, without having to navigate to the retailer’s website.

Facebook’s Buy Button – Convenience or Clutter?

Facebook officially announced in July about the testing of a ‘Buy’ button that would appear in newsfeed ads and page posts. As of now, it is only being tested with a few small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S.

This is not Facebook’ first attempt to crack e-commerce as they previously introduced the ‘Gifts’ feature which was shut down within a year. Even though the earlier attempts were unsuccessful, the team is keen on working on other commercial purchase features within Facebook, with ‘Buy’ button being the recent result of it.

This button is expected to provide an added level of convenience for online shoppers to buy products from merchants within the Facebook framework itself. The customer can use his credit card on file with Facebook and make purchases directly. The option to save your payment details or just checkout without saving is also available. However, Facebook claims that the entire functionality has robust safety & privacy options and won’t pass on the payment details to any of its other advertisers.

The main objective of introducing this functionality is to increase the conversion rates and the return on investments for its advertisers. Not to forget that this new development will put them in direct competition with e-commerce sites like Amazon, also providing a new avenue for Facebook to gain some revenues through sales and payment processing.

Will Twitter Commerce reveal your identity?

Two months after the announcement from Facebook, Twitter revealed about testing its own “Buy’ button to facilitate sales & increase revenue. This facility to make purchases directly from tweets is available only to a small set of consumers in the U.S as of now. It is now being experimented with selling limited edition merchandises, charities, and concert tickets and is expected to grow with more product options based on the initial testing feedback.

Launching on the mobile platform first, Twitter says the purchase process will only have few simple steps & is completely secure. The user can simply click on the buy button, enter product details, choose payment option, enter shipping details and make a purchase. This payment data used by the user can also help in revealing the real names & details of its anonymous Twitter profiles, a move that can be greatly beneficial for marketers. However, Twitter denied the possibility of this and emphasized on working with Stripe to make the entire transaction completely safe & private.

Here’s how the marketers can benefit

The previous attempts made by these social media platforms to explore e-commerce have not been so successful. Pinterest, the only platform to have topped Facebook in driving referral traffic to retailer sites has made promising developments, but still lags behind when it comes to investment & adoption. If the ‘Buy’ option proves to be highly beneficial for Facebook & Twitter, brands that focus on time-limited offers and on-off promotions have chances of getting high investment returns. However, the performance of direct ‘Buy’ button when it comes to high value products & the ones that need more research & time is uncertain.

Will privacy be a concern for the buyers?

Social media platforms have been playing a major role in influencing the decision making process of its users. These networking sites possess large amounts of data about their consumer preferences which helps them to come up with tailor made posts and promoted ads. The ‘Buy’ option to be introduced will facilitate the quick shift from a promoted post or tweet to a shopping cart which saves a lot of time & effort for its customers. However, privacy & security around financial data is something that these social networking sites are constantly trying to assure its consumers.

Future of Online Shopping is here

For both retailers and social media sites, the objective is to successfully merge online commerce with mobile & social activity of people, without obstructing their user experience with unwanted targeted ads filling their timelines. Hence, if the testing of ‘Buy’ button turns out to be successful, it would open a whole new avenue for these platforms to not only influence our social life, but our shopping patterns too.

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