AdAge has an intriguing article about upcoming enhancements to Twitter brand pages that include sweepstakes, contests and ecommerce. The report is purportedly confirmed by multiple, unnamed Twitter executives. The commerce part is particularly intriguing, especially in light of Jack Dorsey’s dual involvement in both Square and Twitter. But what would ecommerce on Twitter look like? Is this the start of t-commerce? Is it the next wave of social commerce? Will it be as uninspiring as fcommerce (Facebook commerce?) Of course this is all speculation, but the nexus of mobile, frictionless payments and real time is a compelling area to explore a new way to find, share, promote and pay.
Here’s a bit from the article:
Launched in December, the pages show the brand’s Twitter feed and images, but Twitter plans to add experiences, including e-commerce, contests and sweepstakes, according to three executives familiar with the matter.
The product will allow app developers to build experiences on Twitter, much the way they do on Facebook. The features will be contained within the brand’s tweet timeline, a departure from the 140-character limit of a tweet or images and videos that can now displayed. While no date has been set for the release of the product, Twitter has been telling clients to expect it this year.
What Would Twitter Commerce (tcommerce?) Look Like?
Location-based deals are nothing new, see Foursquare, Loopt and the rest, but Twitter has an audience orders of magnitude larger than those services combined. It’s not hard to imagine Twitter using your location to push out deals via your stream that are relevant to you from businesses near by. A deal from the local deli while you’re checking Twitter from the CVS next door could be just the motivation you need to pick up lunch while you’re out.
Deals are also a great incentive for users to follow brands on Twitter. The most successful brand pages on Facebook have far more fans than similar brands on Twitter. And there is plenty of research out there that shows that people follow brands on Facebook for deals and specials, so it’s not much of a stretch to see how deals could help brands build larger purchase-oriented followings on Twitter.
Location isn’t the only opportunity. The flash-deal model also works with Twitter. And there are plenty of good case studies on how short-term deals work well on Twitter. The Dell Outlet Twitter account being probably the most visible/memorable. The ability to deploy ecommerce opportunities quickly and to a captive audience is a powerful concept, if executed well. It’s easy to see how Zappos could deploy a deal on the shoes that a celebrity is wearing on Oscars the red carpet. Combining a deal with a promoted Tweet around a popular hashtag is a way to reach a very targeted audience in a much faster and more relevant way than an email 24 hours later, when the moment has passed.
The one catch of course is the payment gateway for all of this. Clicking from a Tweet to a payment page, to fill out a cumbersome ecommerce form is not going to get the job done — particularly in the mobile world. This is where a partnership with a company like Square and the wallet technology makes a ton of sense. Having secure, one-click-type payment ability will be the key to adoption and use of tcommerce payments. Being able to see a deal, and take instant action without the friction associated with typical ecommerce could be the thing that makes tcommerce really work.
What About fcommerce?
There has been a lot of skepticism around social commerce, particularly with the closing of several high-profile storefronts on Facebook. But there is little reason to think the tcommerce would suffer the same fate as fcommerce. Why? Because fcommerce was nothing more than ecommerce jammed into the Facebook chrome. As long as Twitter looks at the experience holistically and unique to the service there is no reason that it has to be as uninspiring as Facebook’s first attempt.
Twitter thinks about it’s platform in a much different way than Facebook does. Facebook is a utility, the plumbing of the social graph that anyone can build on, regardless of the effectiveness of what they build. Twitter is much more in control of the user experience and what is and isn’t allowed in the service. This control means that any solution is their solution, and mobile, real time and commerce are all areas of expertise for Jack and team.
Deals and brand offerings are pretty superficial. What if we think bigger. Could Twitter replace Western Union? Could sending money be as easy as sending a Tweet? Could you donate to a cause through a trending hashtag? There are issues to unravel with these scenarios, but there isn’t any reason to think that they’re not possible at some level at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Of course, this could all be smoke. Twitter could just let brands promote the deals they have on other services. There could be no true tcommerce solution. An integration with Square could be years off, who knows. But it is fun to think about, and it could be a whole new mobile, real time, frictionless way to send money to anyone.
Image via AdAge.