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Twitter Introduces Buy Button

Site Looks Beyond Ads For Revenue

The rumours have being circulating for months, but it’s finally arrived: Twitter has introduced a Buy button for ‘a small percentage of US users (that will grow over time).’ The social media network’s move into the world of ecommerce has been anticipated for some time; up to a year ago the site was in a partnership with Starbucks and Amazon to experiment with giving users the ability to send friends a voucher for free coffee via a tweet or to add items to their Amazon shopping cart by using a hashtag.

This feature seems like the most straightforward way of going about things, however. It gives Twitter greater control over the process, and opens the door for a variety of deals and exclusives which will help to make the platform a serious contender in the lucrative world of ecommerce.

The system works by prompting users to input their payment details the first time they hit the Buy button. From that point on the details are saved by Twitter, allowing one-touch purchasing; anyone who has been a little drunk on Amazon knows how dangerously profitable this set-up can be.

Experts are already seeing a potential beyond companies simply promoting items. Some have considered how valuable the system could be for charities, which already rely heavily on Twitter to conduct their campaigns; the ability to send a small donation directly from a tweet could vastly increase their revenue. Similarly many musicians and artists use Twitter to inform fans about secret events or last-minute shows, and the ability to purchase tickets directly could make this a much more robust process.

As Nathan Hubbard, Twitter’s head of commerce, says: ‘Anything with a perishable component, temporal nature, or limited supply, is going to thrive on Twitter.’ It seems likely that the businesses which will take best advantage of the new feature are those whose product matches the fast-paced, real time nature of the site.

The move also comes just a short time after Facebook announced plans for their own Buy button last month. The functionality is likely to be slightly different, however. The nature of Facebook means that customers are more likely to be intentionally visiting a business’ page rather than have it pop up in their stream as with Twitter. Whether the greater discoverability of products on Twitter (particularly considering the marked success of the promoted tweets system) will be enough to weigh against Facebook’s far larger user base remains to be seen.

If Twitter does begin to make money off this move into commerce, it may allow them to scale back on the insertion of content into users’ feeds which they haven’t subscribed to – a tendency which has raised some ire in the Twitter community. Considering the potential for ads with integrated Buy buttons, however, you probably shouldn’t hold your breath for the return of a clean and uncluttered Twitter Feed any time soon.

For now the feature is only available with a small number of profiles including Burberry, DonorsChoose, Eminem, and The Nature Conservancy. If it ends up being a success with these outfits, expect to see it spread across the site in the near future.


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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Twitter Introduces Buy Button Reviewed by Douglas Clarke-Williams on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 Rating: 5
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