If you’ve been keeping up with the latest on the big players in social media and e-commerce, you’ll already be aware of Twitter’s recently introduced #AmazonCart which has allowed its users to add items to their Amazon shopping cart by simply hash-tagging the desired product in their Twitter feed.
It seems Twitter has taken mobile online shopping a step further since the launch of #AmazonCart and now Facebook have announced the introduction of a ‘buy now’ button that will potentially position the social media giant amongst the biggest of the online shopping providers.
Facebook’s new ‘buy now’ option may only be in its preliminary testing phases, and not yet a guaranteed winner as Facebook have failed to bring real-money transactions to their social platform before, but it’s something for online businesses and marketers alike to watch over the coming months.
What does this new trend to bring online shopping to social media platforms mean for the rest of us conducting business online?
Let’s break down the functions of these new social shopping features and take a closer look at how they may be utilised to both market and sell products within moments online.
The Facebook ‘buy now’ button will feature on advertisements that appear in a user’s timeline and will allow the user to purchase an item, through Facebook, rather than being redirected to an online merchant’s website. The feature is certainly intended to encourage mobile and impulsive purchases by Facebook’s user base and stands to compete with the giants of e-commerce such as Amazon, EBay and China’s fast-growing Alibaba. As mentioned above, the feature is still being tested and will initially be available to users in the United States, with users in Europe, the UK, Australia and the rest of the world to follow in due course.
It’s not, however, the first time that Facebook has attempted to introduce social shopping options to its platform. Facebook Gifts was launched in 2012, a system that allowed its users to purchase physical gifts through the site and have them delivered to Facebook friends’ homes. It was abandoned less than a year later in 2013 after the scheme failed to build satisfactory momentum. Similarly, in 2010, Facebook introduced its own virtual currency called Facebook Credits that could be used to purchase virtual gifts for users. Facebook Credits was discontinued in 2012.
It is rumoured that Twitter has been testing a similar buy now feature. Tweets showcasing products have been appearing with a ‘buy now’ button included in the tweet. The products that are being shared on Twitter with the feature originate from an online shopping application called Fancy and it has been suggested that they aren’t so much a Twitter test, but a pitch to indicate what such a function could look like.
The ‘buy now’ buttons currently aren’t linked to anything but there is some hearsay that the buttons were indeed linked to checkout pages for a short period after their release. Perhaps a creative sales pitch or a leak on Fancy’s behalf, but with the recent launch of #AmazonCart and Facebook’s ‘buy now’ button to be introduced, all signs point to Twitter entering the e-commerce arena sooner rather than later.
Incorporating buying options into social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will mean that the line between marketing and purchase will become thinner. As of July 2014, Facebook has 1,310,000,000 monthly active users and 1.01 billion access their account via mobile devices. Some 16 Million local business pages have been created as of May 2013, a 100 per cent increase from 8 million in June 2012 and 7.5 million promoted posts have been made from June 2012 to May 2013.
With these figures in mind, there’s no denying that Facebook provides a huge audience and with it a powerful platform for marketers to encourage brand engagement. Marketers have already taken advantage of Facebook as a tool to better reach and engage with communities of consumers online, and with the introduction of a buy now option, advertisements and sponsored posts will have a new level of potency. With higher numbers of its users accessing their Facebook pages via mobile devices, the potential for on-the-run impulse purchasing cannot be ignored.
It is for these reasons that promotion of products and services online has proven to be the way forward for many Australian businesses. Facebook is already a popular platform for this type of promotion and with the introduction of its ‘buy now’ button, may prove to be the best social platform for not only marketing products, but converting sales as well. Twitter may be close behind, however, and Google+ (the second largest social platform) and the fast-growing LinkedIn are still in the mix for possible future e-commerce implementations.
Infodec Communications are experts in both new and traditional forms of online marketing. With our extensive experience, we can help you to promote the products and/or services your business offers by providing you with cutting-edge marketing strategies to cut-through the noise, communicate your benefits and beat your competition.