New initiatives by social media tentpoles Facebook and Twitter seek to enhance the ecommerce capabilities of both sites. Neither site has become the online sales juggernaut their owners and investors would like to see in the ongoing quest to find fatter revenue streams.
Facebook’s latest attempt at converting its users into buyers involves a very direct approach. As noted at Facebook for Business, the company has been testing the addition of a simple “Buy” button to product ads and page posts.
The Buy button shows up for both desktop and mobile users viewing Facebook advertisements or pages. Click the Buy button lets users purchase a product directly from a business, without leaving Facebook. The company is promising a secure process for buyers who make purchases this way, with an option to save payment details for future shopping.
Responses on Facebook’s post to the new Buy button have been mixed. The current trial is limited to a selection of US businesses only, but that didn’t stop a few users from asking for inclusion. And one user, Katy Messersmith, expressed concern that the Buy button “won’t do us small businesses any good if we have to pay to promote it for our fans to see the product.”
In January 2014, EcommerceBytes surveyed over 12,000 online sellers for our Sellers Choice 2014 Marketplace Ratings. While sellers reported finding marketing benefits to Facebook, they also lamented at that time a need to pay to get wide circulation for their ads.
Nicholas Franchet, who joined Facebook from eBay in 2012 and is the company’s head of global vertical retail strategy, said at that year’s Etail East Conference, “There is 10 times greater engagement in Facebook’s newsfeed than on anything on the right hand side.” His recommendation at the time – use sponsored stories to reach potential customers.
Meanwhile, Twitter’s recent activity focused more on the behind-the-scenes side of that site. The company announced their acquisition of CardSpring, a payment infrastructure company. While both companies expressed the customary platitudesregarding the deal, other details have yet to be disclosed.