Facebook Buy Button: Game Changer or Fail?

Those of us that use social media for business have struggled with the question of social media ROI for years. While there’s still no easy answer to the question, conversations about sales on social media may be getting a little easier due to the fact that both Twitter and Facebook have been tinkering with the addition of a “buy” button.

Since early July Facebook has been testing a way for brands to make a direct sales pitch to Facebook users. If all goes according to plan, the Facebook buy button will become available to advertisers as a new form or sponsored post.  Unlike current ads in the newsfeed, using the buy button allows a user to stay on Facebook for the entire transaction. After clicking “buy” the user is taken through a series of additional screens to collect shipping and payment information before checking out.

Like everything else on Facebook, this process is wholly theirs, so when a user buys a product they are providing their payment info to Facebook, not to the retailer. In fact Facebook will encourage you to store your credit card info so that you can purchase things quickly (think of your Amazon account). While this may make sense from a usability standpoint, many people are not terribly comfortable with Facebook’s security and there’s a big question around how many people will actually give Facebook their credit card information.

On the flip side there are those who are heralding the Facebook buy button as a major breakthrough and predicting it will change how brands sell online. Thus far Facebook has been unsuccessful with their eCommerce attempts but it will be interesting to see if social commerce turns a corner with the buy button.

At the moment the buy button is only available to a small number of companies, so keep your eyes open for it to roll out in greater numbers.

Twitter is not quite so forthcoming about their efforts, but rumors are running rampant. It started back in January when re/code uncovered a mockup of a tweet with a “buy now” button. While Twitter reps declined to comment at that point, they have noted that users are already able to get deals and discounts from a tweet. One could argue that taking payments is the next step and their recent acquisition of CardSpring, a payment infrastructure company, has a lot of people wondering if it’s simply a matter of time before Twitter will also introduce an ecommerce platform.

What’s your take; will a buy button on Facebook and Twitter be a game changer?

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Nicole Krug founded Social Light in 2009 to help clients go social. Through Social Light she helps clients hone their digital marketing strategies to bring more exposure to their brand and boost their bottom line.

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