• September 1, 2016
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Goodbye to Twitter’s Buy Button

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A number of social media sites began offering buy buttons in 2014 and 2015 to enable consumers to casually browse items and then make purchases without ever having to leave the site. Facebook, PayPal, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter were among the leaders in this trend, but Twitter has decided to ditch the buy button.

The 25 employees working on this initiative have been moved to its customer service and dynamic ads teams, as Twitter is moving away from e-commerce on its site. Given how little consumer traction the button was getting, it’s not surprising.

Only 6 percent of consumers planned to make purchases using the Twitter buy button in the coming year, according to research from Walker Sands. About one-third (32 percent) of consumers in Walker Sands’s “Future of Retail” study said they were likely to make purchases using social media, and they were more likely to use buy buttons on Facebook (18 percent), Pinterest (10 percent), and YouTube (9 percent).

Another popular alternative is Amazon Dash, according to Javelin Research. Amazon lets consumers attach dash buttons to physical products they buy most often through the site; they just tap the button to order the product when they are about to run out of it.

Michael Moeser, director of payments at Javelin, notes that consumers are more likely to gravitate toward sites that let consumers buy and pay for items in “the most frictionless” manner possible. Ideally, these systems should also integrate with other systems that store shipping and billing addresses so consumers don’t have to enter a lot of information on their small mobile phone screens, he adds.

So why didn’t the buy button stick on Twitter? It could very well be that Twitter isn’t the right medium for product content.

In general, 27 percent of respondents to Walker Sands’s survey said social media posts typically don’t include enough product information to make purchases. With Twitter’s 140-character threshold, that deficit is even more pronounced.

“Twitter doesn’t have the digital commerce real estate to give consumers the necessary information to make an educated buying decision. Consumers want to know about the company and the product, and they also need to feel confident they’re making a secure transaction,” says Sarah Traxler, director of marketing at CloudCraze, a provider of SaaS commerce on the Salesforce.com platform. “It is places like community forums, company websites, and within company blogs that make for better environments for fostering successful contextual commerce.

“Locations like these house the opportunity for dialogue between customers and the company to occur, including for questions to be answered in real time that are needed for the customer to feel confident in their buying decision,” she adds. “Contextual commerce, specifically in the B2B industry, offers a unique opportunity to insert personal interactions back into the sales process.”

In discontinuing the buy button, Twitter shifted efforts toward other, more profitable initiatives, like the dynamic product ads that it shows to people based on their browsing histories. According to the company, the ads bring in double the click-through rates and double the conversion rates of regularly promoted Tweets.

Twitter is also testing more customer service features, including one that will let consumers know how quickly companies respond to tweets and messages directed at them. Another is an updated Featured Tweet capability that will allow companies to place specific tweets at the top of their feeds for other users to see immediately.

These efforts build on other initiatives to make Twitter more appealing to businesses. In February, Twitter introduced a direct messaging feature that enables users to send private messages to businesses. The company also introduced customer satisfaction surveys that allow businesses to send customers private surveys.

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