From Social to Sale: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest Expand Into E-Commerce



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E-commerce is the next big frontier for social media companies. Here’s how Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest plan to own social sales.


Although it’s still in its test phase, Facebook announced that businesses running ads on it would be able to add a “Buy” call-to-action button to their ads. Anyone clicking the button would be then be able to buy purchase the advertised item without ever leaving Facebook.

So far, the “buy” button follows the same format as all the other calls-to-action Facebook allows marketers to embed, such as “Sign Up,” “Download” and “Like.”

Facebook has already preempted privacy advocates by saying all the credit card info will be secured and users have an option of not keeping it stored on their Facebook account. There’s no word on how Facebook will split the revenue costs with advertisers (or if it will do it all.)


On the same day Facebook started testing its “buy button,” Twitter announced its own foray into the world of e-commerce. Twitter has acquired CardSpring, a online payments startup that enables publishers to add a variety of promotional offers to their platforms. These include coupons, discounts, loyalty cards and virtual currency programs.

Unlike Facebook, it’s less clear how exactly Twitter will use the CardSpring technology. In a blog post announcing the acquisition, Twitter had little to say about what its online payments strategy would look like, other than it would “help to bring in-the-moment commerce experiences to our users.”


Given how tailor made the Pinterest user interface is for showcasing products, it was only a matter of time before it started selling things.

By partnering with e-commerce platform Shopify, Pinterest will now be able to drive more than just online referrals, and actually account for direct sales. Shopify is an online platform that enables more than 100,000 client stores to sell their products through it on the web.

Now, all eligible Shopify stores will have Rich Pins, enabling potential customers to discover the top selling items and purchase them from the store directly. These Rich Pins will automatically display details such price and availability. This puts Pinterest on a natural path to become a full fledged e-commerce website. Companies will finally be able to put a hard dollar amount on the value of Pinterest activity.


With these three networks making big plays in the e-commerce field, we could be seeing the next phase in the evolution of social media channels. Along with social media marketing, brands now need to start along the lines of social media sales.

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