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Putting a Price on Social Media


This week saw Twitter take a bold step into the e-commerce arena with the introduction of its ‘Buy Now’ button.

Introduced to hand picked partners’ Twitter profiles, the innovative feature allows users to make purchases directly on and via the mobile-app.

Discussing the development, Nathan Hubbard, head of commerce at Twitter, told the New York Post: “You’re going to see native ad units become transactional. We’ve put a stake in the ground at the leading edge of this…” or in layman’s terms: the introduction of the feature is the first step to seeing content produced by brands, specifically for Twitter, having a commercial call to action.

With reported advertising revenues generating, last quarter along, over $277 million its easy to see why the social media heavy weight is keen to roll out the new feature across its network.

Despite the obvious financial incentive, Twitter is moving cautiously in rolling the new feature out across its social network. Solely operating in the US, and still only visible to a small percentage of its users, the ‘Buy Now’ button has only been made available to a selection of twenty-six nonprofit organisations, such as AIDs charity (RED) and artists, such as Eminem and Wiz Khalifa.

Only two US brands have been given access to the new feature: fashion mega-house, Burberry, and DIY Shed, Home Depot – both of which Hubbard holds as “…examples of partners that have done really innovative things on the platform”.

So where does this leave PR agencies? And how can they get their clients involved? Plans for the platform revealed that more brands would be added towards the final quarter of the year, including the courting of agencies. Already planned as an integrated feature within the online training tool for agencies, ‘Flight School’, the ‘Buy Now’ button represents an exciting development in making social media commercially measurable when reporting back to clients.

Embedded in posts for a small percentage of Twitter users, the ‘Buy Now’ facility allows users instant access to a wide range of products including; limited edition and time-sensitive promotions.

According to Twitter’s announcement: “This is an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile devices convenient and easy, hopefully even fun.”

Partnering with start-up payment solutions company, Stripe, John Collinson the company’s founder, recently told Wired magazine: “You should be able to drop payments into your website like embedding a YouTube video in a few lines of code. You should be able to do it instantly… that’s how the Internet works!”

We can’t lie; the new ‘Buy Now’ button really excites us.

With developments such as this finally moving towards delivering measurable results in terms of profits, it seems the future is definitely looking bright for the continued engagement of brands with social media!

Viva la Twitter!


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