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Posted on Thu 11th Sep, 2014 in: Industry Comment, Influence, Social Media by Rebecca Armstrong

This week, Twitter announced via its blog the test launch of a new 'Buy' button that will allow users to make quick purchases direct from tweets. The test will start over the next few weeks with a group of artists, brands and charities retailing on Twitter, including RED, Paramore, Pharrell and Burberry (well worth following the full list now). Twitter is hoping its Buy function will be 'convenient, easy and fun' with just a few simple steps - after clicking 'Buy' users will be asked to enter shipping and payment information and confirm. It's as simple as that. The question is, will it work for consumers and organisations on Twitter? Twitter's video launch We've seen ecommerce attempts struggle on Facebook and by nature social media users have avoided being associated with corporate sales plugs on channels which are driven by organic conversation. Saying this, if used responsibly, we think this one has the potential to enhance the relationship between brand and consumer and be of mutual benefit. Who will it benefit? The Buy button will be a huge advantage when it comes to measuring ROI on Twitter; now brands will be able to quantify sales direct with tweets very easily. It will also offer brands an interesting measure for a whole range of other metrics. For example, if David Beckham tweets about his H&M undies with a Buy button, how many people would make a purchase direct from his tweet? Or, if L'Oreal links its TV ad with a tweet to 'buy now', how many people will immediately follow L'Oreal's Twitter page and buy the latest age-defying product? Now it's got our attention! But it's not going to work for everyone. Twitter is fast-moving and spontaneous, which lends itself to low-cost, impulse purchases and the likes of ASOS, Topshop, beauty brands and supermarkets. However, it won't necessarily work for high-value products where the customer journey requires research, comparison or time. I think the button will have the biggest impact on the not-for-profit sector. With social media charity campaigns going viral on a daily basis, this simple function will enhance the donation aspect which has previously been quite disjointed. I imagine that if this simple button was in use during the No Make-up Selfie or Ice Bucket Challenge campaigns, then charities could have raised a lot more than they did from separate text and web donations. So what do brands need to think about? Essentially Twitter will become more of a marketplace but in order to capture consumers' attention effectively, brands will have to retail very differently to their other ecommerce platforms. Organisations can use the timely 'in-the-moment' nature of Twitter to their advantage, tapping into real time conversations, events and trends to capitalise at just the right time, with just the right content. Users will require sellers to tailor products, making them appropriate to their Twitter experience. Last minute holidays, gig tickets, music downloads, exclusive 'special' editions and flash sales would seem to be the perfect fit. In effect, if an organisation can offer its Twitter followers something different, timely or unique, the retail element could also be a tool to grow an organisation's social media community. Our top tips
  • Capture the spontaneous nature of Twitter with what you're tweeting to buy - it should be timely and easy for the user to make a quick buying decision there and then
  • Integrate the function with other marketing channels such as TV and radio ads, editorial features or in-store promos
  • Make it of mutual benefit by offering your Twitter community something special and exclusive
  • Take your measurement to the next level to analyse what factors influence your sales
We'll certainly be advising some of our clients to try it out and if executed well, we think Twitter's new ecommerce offering could strengthen not just sales but a brand's reputation and relationship with its community.

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