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Tweets for sale

Blog post   •   Sep 12, 2014 15:01 BST

Twitter has always been a popular and vibrant environment for users to discover promotions from brands and recommendations from friends, but there is now an increasing commercialisation of the network. Twitter’s latest foray into e-commerce has seen it introduce a “buy” button into some tweets this week, although you might not have seen it unless you’re one of the small percentage of U.S. users that the concept is currently being tested on.

It’s an attempt by the hugely popular social media company to build functionality into its platform by allowing users to buy goods directly from tweets without having to go through a third party. The development has been made possible following Twitter’s acquisition of payment start-up CardSpring which enables such “in the moment” commerce.

Twitter previously experienced mild success when it launched #AmazonCart, intended to allow users to buy products by replying to tweets containing links to Amazon product pages. Although designed to make life more convenient, users still had to venture to Amazon’s website to complete the purchase.

The latest, more serious leap into commercialising the platform launched on Monday is advancement on the Amazon experiment. It offers a bridge between online and offline retail and enables consumers to find offers on the social network from their favourite artists, brands and charities. Sellers will gain a critical new ability currently lacking on social media platforms; a serious way to convert the direct relationships they have with followers into sales.

It is a big step for Twitter but the company can take solace in the fact it is not alone. Facebook launched a similar “buy” button in July, which allows users on a desktop or mobile to make purchases through ads or posts on brand pages. Both Twitter and Facebook are claiming that they won’t take a cut from the purchases but instead increase advertising revenues as retailers flock to promote their goods on the social networking sites.

The difference to date with Twitter and Facebook’s advertising models has been that Facebook has reduced the organic reach of posts in newsfeeds, forcing brands to sponsor their posts. Twitter has not yet ventured down this route and enables accounts the opportunity to get their tweets into the feeds of every one of their followers. They enable sponsored tweets but do not algorithmically filter feeds in the same way as Facebook. Realistically though, organic tweet reaches are poor and promoted tweets are the way forward.

It will be interesting to see the innovative way in which brands adopt this new opportunity and how Twitter develops its “buy” button. Will we see viral purchasing patterns sweeping across regions? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter’s latest development.

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