Social Media eCommerce is Kind of Awkward

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Shopping while Facebook-stalking. It's a weird juxtaposition that marketers seem infatuated with. But is it more than wishful thinking?

Social Media eCommerce is Kind of Awkward
Social Media eCommerce is Kind of Awkward

Rapid and rampant experimentation is part and parcel of social media, so news of the introduction of new functionality or technology on the major networks is not quite as exciting as it once was. Except in relation to eCommerce.

It wasn't so long ago that buy buttons, and other forms of direct buying, dominated the news around social networks. Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter all launched buy buttons in the last couple of years. Facebook has been experimenting with the feature for some time, as well. But whether or not customers are using these features remains to be seen.

The Washington Post called into question the viability of social media buy buttons earlier this year, with one of the article's most poignant arguments citing the conflicting nature of the social networking and online shopping experiences. It's just a strange notion; that users will go from swimming through various gossip and memes in their newsfeed, maybe sharing a couple of posts, or doling out some “Happy bday!” wishes, to then buy some sneakers.

Twitter apparently reckoned with this disconnect last month, when it pulled out of buy buttons, but other networks, like Pinterest and Instagram, are still full speed ahead.

Tangentially, Facebook is currently testing social payments in Thailand, giving these select users the option to pay page owners directly from the site, TechCrunch reports. Though this development seems more in line with Facebook's other efforts to pay content owners on its site, the notion of users visiting social networks to spend money is an odd one.

Time will tell whether or not vendors and social media networks can marry the shopping and social networking experiences, but given the poor customer turnout on social channels last holiday season—a paltry 1.8% as reported in the Washington Post piece—these resources may be better allocated elsewhere.


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