25 July 2014

Who’s buying Facebook’s button?

Announced at the end of last week, Facebook is launching a ‘buy’ button, designed to let users snap up products straight from the site. It follows hot on the heels of Twitter, which quietly launched a ‘buy now’ button earlier in the month, after much speculation. A week later, and this news is still proving cause for debate, with key commentators, including the FT, posing the big question: is this just window dressing or will actually help drive sales?

Here’s a snapshot of industry insiders’ views and predictions:

According to Mashable, this social/ecommerce merge is more than just about increasing ad sales. What they really want is to “use commerce as a way to boost engagement among users by giving them more reason to stay on site, as well as provide an additional selling point to advertisers.” A particularly interesting point when you think about it in context of today’s millennials. This generation is social media-savvy and often the best way to reach them is through social channels. For brands to stay relevant to their younger fans – they need to diversify. Could social shopping be the way to do this?

In the slightly more cynical corner sits Marketing Week. Lara O’Reilly warns that neither brands, nor Twitter and Facebook for that matter, should expect this move to “generate meaningful revenue…any time soon.” And it doesn’t stop there. She adds that ultimately users just aren’t really ready for this new tool, they will rarely “log in (to the sites) for a shop.” However, it’s not all doom and gloom – it may just take a bit of time for this innovation to catch on.

When it comes to ads on Twitter and Facebook, diginomica argues that “brands can do a hell of a lot on Facebook and Twitter themselves without having to advertise.” This also brings into question ad targeting. Derek du Preez states that “Facebook needs to get a hell of a lot better at serving up ads that are really tailored to its users.” He adds, “I can’t think of a single thing I would have bought from an ad on Facebook to date, if I had been given the opportunity.”

The views on this are very much a mixed bag but it seems most industry pros are approaching the move with caution. Will the new tools really be all they’re cracked up to be? We’ll have to wait and see but, in the meantime, it’s interesting to note that other social platforms are also getting in on the action. The FT reports that Pinterest is likely to get on board with the trend, having just partnered with Shopify, an online platform that encompasses more than 100,000 shops and makes sure that all pins of products include details of prices.

What do you think? Can you see a strong business case for buying into the button for your brand’s social channels?