The recent news that Twitter is to add a ‘buy’ button has caused much debate in the ecommerce and social media industries. Until now, Twitter has generated revenue via advertising but this is a potentially major change in approach, with a button included in a tweet that allows a user to make a direct purchase.
Pop singer Rihanna and fashion brand Burberry have already signed up to take part in the initial trial. I will watch the results with interest but I am not convinced Twitter is a platform for ecommerce.
Mixing social and commerce
I am sceptical about this new service because we have seen over time that most people don’t like to mix news/social with commerce. This is despite the fact that everyone talks about social commerce in all its forms, but there is a difference between discussion and actually doing something. Also, Twitter was built on a kind of counter-culture spirit. As much as it is now used a lot by brands to communicate, I believe that it can only remain a marketing tool not a transactional one, great for driving conversation and engagement with a brand but less useful for sales.
Twitter as a marketplace?
Of course there is some potential to generate more visibility on certain products but I am doubtful about its ability to generate immediate transactions. It is also unclear whether it will just be a traffic generator or if they actually want to handle the shopping cart on Twitter. This would be a much heavier and more involved process where it is key to respect all the best practices of commerce. Knowing that Twitter would not hold the inventory, they would have to offer this service in a marketplace manner which requires a lot of processes that I doubt Twitter would want to deal with.
Ultimately, Twitter is a platform that lends itself to discussion and social activity, sometimes around products that people like. But it remains to be seen if that can be translated into users then actually buying products. I’m not convinced that people will do so in any great numbers, because Twitter is simply not perceived as a commerce platform.