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Facebook Trial A 'Buy' Button On Their Site

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The question of how to transform the vast user bases of social networks into consistent profitability has been pertinent since the very founding of these websites. Traditionally almost all social media companies have relied upon advertising revenue as their primary source of income, but this is fast being recognised as an unsustainable approach. The downfall of MySpace saw a collapse in profits from $470 million dollars in 2009 to $184 million in 2011, and the yoking of profitability to user population meant that such a decline is almost irreversible once it begins. Even Twitter, despite having over 230 million active users, made a loss of $69 million dollars in the first half of 2013 – and as the BBC notes, ‘almost all of Twitter’s revenue – about 85% of it – comes from advertising on its site.’ Facebook believe that they have a way to solve this problem.

facebook buy button
Source: digit.in
Facebook’s recent announcement that they would be trialling a new ‘Buy’ button, whereby users can purchase items directly from a business' Facebook page, on both their desktop and mobile sites is a vital move for the company. By allowing users to shop without leaving the site they increase page views while also inculcating people into the idea of using Facebook as not only a place for communication but also for commerce.

Amazon has already implemented a function for users to add products which they see in tweets directly to their shopping cart by replying to the message with #AmazonBasket, and Twitter themselves recently bought CardSpring, a start-up which helps process credit card payments through apps.

In the face of these moves towards alternative sources of revenue for social media companies Facebook’s implementing of a buy button would seem, if anything, overdue. This is not the first time that Zuckerberg’s outfit has toyed with the idea of incorporating an ecommercial aspect into their social networking world; they already allow users to purchase gift cards through the site, and in 2012 introduced a feature for users to buy their friends gifts such as socks and teddy bears – a feature discontinued after a year due to lack of use.

Part of the challenge of such a move is the security aspect. A string of recent high-profile online security breaches – the theft of the data of 145 million eBay customers in May and that of more than 150 million Adobe users at the end of 2013 – means that online customers are more wary than ever about what is happening with their personal details. Facebook themselves have not been immune from such vulnerabilities; in 2013 a Palestinian researcher found a gap in Facebook’s security which allowed him to post directly to Mark Zuckerberg’s personal page.

facebook buy button
Source: blog.experts-exchange.com
If Facebook can earn the trust of users and move towards achieving a critical mass of early adopters for the Buy button then it will undoubtedly prove lucrative. The online shopping market was worth $1,251 billion in 2013 and that is expected to rise to $2,357 billion by 2017.

By vertically integrating themselves throughout people’s commercial as well as social lives Facebook may be aiming to become the first post-social network; not just a place where people connect with their friends and share photos, but a framework within which people can live their entire lives.



Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Facebook Trial A 'Buy' Button On Their Site Reviewed by Anonymous on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 Rating: 5
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