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Twitter’s Buy Button fails, but there is hope for Instagram, Pinterest

As buy buttons on social media have had a disappointing run, Twitter is killing off its own but that does not mean the rest are doomed, as experts say the social site’s disregard for relevancy and focus on convenience had it condemned from the start.

Twitter’s buy button is officially absent from its social application and Web site, which was not a surprise to many after its lack luster performance. But other social apps such as Instagram and Pinterest could still be in the game for a winning commerce angle since consumer behavior dictates long sessions spent within the apps and newsfeeds are fine tuned for each individual.

“Relevance is key,” said Scott Webb, president of Avionos. “Experience driven commerce, where the ability to purchase is woven seamlessly into a multi-channel customer journey, will ultimately drive higher conversions.

“Twitter’s mistake is that they prioritized the convenience over relevance,” he said. “Knowing the audience and what they are looking for at each point in their journey will be key to the success of a social commerce offering. Each step in the journey is an opportunity to collect customer data that retailers can use to refine and personalize offerings on social media, and across all customer touchpoints.

“Additionally, to better harness the commerce capabilities within social channels, it’s important to continuously test the effectiveness of the program. By gathering customer feedback, the success and value of the experience can be evaluated and improved upon based on user preferences. A rapid delivery model is the most effective way to gather this vital feedback and refine the product quickly to meet customer expectations.”

Buy button fail
User behavior on Twitter is inherently rooted in quick, easily digestible visits and not for long term browsing. The social media site created this user behavior itself by imposing a 140-character limit on posts.

The entire idea of Twitter is for and in-and-out experience where users can quickly get the information they need or want and leave. Introducing a buy button in this space without extensive data mining was detrimental for the strategy.

Twitter may have been able to succeed with a buy button if it leveraged that data to provide a highly pertinent experience, instead of valuing convenience over relevancy. Platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram in which images are more prominent and users spend a great deal of time in are more apt for product discovery and purchases.

“Twitter, as a platform, was not inherently built for commerce,” said Josh Payne, CEO of the leading native commerce platform, StackCommerce. “Users are drawn to it for its ability to convey small bits of information in a snackable manner.

“Slapping a Buy Button on the page doesn’t speed up the organic product discovery process,” he said. “It’s about understanding your audience and tracking what types of social content and commerce opportunities tend to generate interest, clicks, and transactions such as auto-play short form video content, etc.

“The platforms that succeed will forge the same kind of unique bond with their users via social commerce that they do generally across their content generation efforts, presenting compelling and shareable products and services that resonate.”

How to succeed
An email from Twitter to USA Today explained that it just was not investing in the buy button anymore. Instead, the company is focusing on conversions, its new advertising product that focuses on targeting to drive clicks.

While relevancy is an important factor for the buy button, authenticity goes hand in hand. The more authentic to the user experience any ad is, the more results marketers will see.

This is especially true for the buy button, and relevancy is part of that. The ad that includes a buy button has to seamlessly fit into the user’s newsfeed and be truly native, the only difference being you can click immediately to purchase.

“Twitter’s Buy Button was doomed to fail from the start, but that’s not necessarily the case for Instagram and Pinterest,” said Greg Ng, vice president of digital engagement at PointSource. “Authenticity is the key to success in social media. Twitter’s biggest problem was that it rarely served up buying and selling in authentic ways.

“Pinterest and Instagram have a leg up here because images and videos evoke a personal connection that is more brand centric and favorable to purchasing from influencers than Twitter’s ‘in the moment’ approach,” he said. “When social media ROI is directly attributed to purchases, it ends up creating a false demand for commerce experiences.

“In order to really get things right, retailers must develop non-commerce ways to measure the success of social campaigns. Given their unique positioning, there’s a real chance for Pinterest and Instagram shoppable content to be a win. However, they’ll need to evaluate if the demand is really there. Is it just the retailers who want it, or are consumers demanding commerce experiences too?”