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Strides in social commerce have been made with Facebook and Pinterest but, until today, brands and ecommerce specialists haven't been able to crack the code when it came to Twitter.
American Express and Twitter have announced they are joining forces by allowing members to sync their Amex cards with their Twitter accounts and then tweet special hashtags to make purchases.
This is not the first foray into connecting American Express member cards with social networks. They have focused on the interconnection with commerce and social since it launched its Link Like Love program with Facebook in 2011 and they have been promoting Twitter deals since last year.
But is this Twitter partnership just another gimmick or something more?
Starting tomorrow, American Express will be tweeting (and favoriting) deals and items that you can purchase with your American Express card through Twitter. Once you tweet and confirm with the special hashtag American Express will tweet back at you, the item is yours.
Not only can opted-in members buy a $25 Amex gift card for $15 but as of Wednesday, they will be able to buy products including an Amazon Kindle Fire HD, a Sony Action Cam and headband mount, a Donna Karan Urban Zen bracelet, and a Microsoft Xbox 360. Of course this will only be available until supplies last or March 3 arrives. Whichever comes first.
The response to this news has been mixed.
Gemma Craven, Executive Vice President of Social@Ogilvy, thinks this is another big step forward for American Express (CL):
By making a confirmation hashtag the mechanism by which the sale is actually completed, Twitter has created a way to bring their platform into the card purchase cycle - with Amex leading the charge (pun intended) in the financial services space.
Importantly this is for select discounted products only, many of which will only be available for a set period and on a flash sale model. Yet while this service is not yet ready for use on the large ecommerce sites that so many of us shop on, e.g. Amazon, if we look at the progress Amex has made since the first Facebook integration - which was based around being served deals that you first Liked on Facebook and then having to go and find them - the leaps ahead are plain to see.
Another believer in this new financial/ social platform partnership is Jonthan Gardner, Director of Communications at Turn:
People use social media such as Twitter when they are on the move, but also while they’re on the sofa, engaging with other media, shopping and socializing. Fifty percent of Super Bowl ads mentioned Twitter this year. Just imagine the potential for cross-platform marketing in this era of increasing purchasing and social media use on smartphones and tablets.
Facebook gifts has shown that social networks can leverage data and ease of use to make sCommerce work brilliantly. In the short term, this may not be a huge revenue source for Amex or Twitter. However, it is a smart marketing move and helps them claim relevance in the new commerce landscape. It also gets purchasers involved in socializing their actions and helping to market the offer through endorsement.
In the long run, similar to Facebook gifts, consumer behavior around Twitter purchases should provide an incredible trough of actionable data for marketers. We have seen that scale and deep data insights, expertise and context combined are the only way to find and engage the right audiences in a complex marketplace.
Further to these points, Gary J Nix of Blue Fountain Media believes this new purchase model is not to help us toward an end game of social commerce, but rather mobile commerce:
I look at this move by Twitter as more than a push towards ecommerce or social commerce: it's a push towards mobile commerce. The speed at which today's world moves creates a necessity for convenience and many of us are finding that convenience in our mobile devices. It's why Google came up with Google Wallet.
However, what AMEX did with their discount tests was: 1) they figured out security; 2) they figure out an easy opt-in process; 3) they figured out two huge social aspects--the promotion and the share; and 4) wrapped up the entire experience in a full purchase. More importantly, they did this all through a community that they built.
I guess membership does indeed have its privileges.
In opposition to Gary's comment, Leslie Campisi, Managing US Director of Hotwire PR, questions the validity of this product to the community. Who is it really for? The private, high rollers associated with American Express wouldn't naturally leap at discounted items you'd buy on Twitter. She continues with:
The real driver of adoption won't be the early coolness factor of tweet-to-purchase or whether the deals are too compelling to pass up. If Amex and Twitter are serious about the program, they're asking users to fundamentally change the way they shop online. So from my perspective the user experience of the transaction cycle makes or breaks the success of this initiative over the long term.
But what about the time this would take to actually make the purchase? Will the back and forth from Twitter to email be more trouble than it's worth? Brian Reilly, Social Media Lead at Revolution Digital, believes:
Ecommerce websites and platforms have seen much success from post-purchase social shares. Now, the social sharing will be the mode of purchase - it's genius, but it's also time intensive. Users sees a deal, tweet the hashtag, answer a confirmation tweet, and confirm via email in order to make a purchase.
Not sure if it's just me, but this sounds incredibly time-intensive and requires jumping from Twitter to email in a finite amount of time. It's worth it if it's a rich offer and is time sensitive. If it's a product that is full price and something that I can purchase via desktop or mobile process, I would opt to do that. The incentive much match the effort required to complete – I would most definitely try this out if I could save at least 5% on a purchase.
The next innovation I would love to see is the identification of consumers who have not only made the purchases, but who have also acted as an assist for other social sales!
I would say, though, that Julia Rieger, Director of Marketing at LiveIntent, is not a big fan:
I love that both Amex and Twitter are always experimenting with new ways to connect with consumers. However, this doesn’t seem like much more than a gimmick and I don’t see this concept stretching much further beyond very basic items.
Even of the 6 they've announced, I'd need to research four of them before tweeting an impulse buy: two are not mainstream products, and two of the mainstream ones have different models to choose from normally. It's probably a really great way to annoy your friends on Twitter, though.
What do you think? Will you be making any major purchases off Twitter anytime soon? And will this make you consider American Express to have the privilege to do so?