Social shopping experiments continue on Facebook and Twitter. But why?

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Despite limited success so far, Facebook and Twitter are continuing their efforts to get you to buy stuff while you’re using their services.

According to reports late last week, Facebook is experimenting with adding a “Buy” button to status updates from selected brands. For instance, Sephora could post an update about a new color of eye shadow, and instead of making customers go to the Sephora.com website to complete the purchase, they could buy it simply by clicking the button right in the Facebook post — using a credit card kept on file with Facebook’s servers.

It’s not the first time Facebook has experimented with social shopping — nor is Facebook the only social network trying this.

Facebook Gifts was a short-lived attempt to let people buy actual, physical gifts and send them to friends within Facebook. It started in August, 2012 with the acquisition of gift-giving startup Karma, but Facebook shut down Gifts in August, 2013.

Similarly, Facebook Credits were an attempt to incorporate e-commerce into Facebook via a virtual currency. Facebook Credits were used mostly to purchase virtual goods within Facebook games, and for a time Facebook required all game developers on its platform to use Credits for in-game purchases. But after pushing them hard in 2010 and 2011, the company discontinued Facebook Credits in 2012.

Twitter, too, has been experimenting with in-stream purchases. The latest experiment, a partnership with Amazon.com, lets people add items to their Amazon shopping carts by tweeting with the hashtag #AmazonCart. That’s convenient, and a search for the hashtag #AmazonCart shows that some people are really using it. But the number using it must be minuscule compared to Amazon’s overall sales volume — and the hashtag hasn’t cracked the “trending” hashtags yet either. Sure, it’s an experiment. But it’s also likely to appeal only to a small number of purchasers, who don’t mind tweeting what it is they are thinking of buying.

These companies, it’s clear, would like social commerce to become a thing. But it’s not clear that customers really want this.

Are you making purchases on Facebook or Twitter? Let us know in the comments below!

More information:

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 1.15 billion monthly active users. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 w... read more »

Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting. Simply find the public streams you find most compelling and follow the conversations. At the heart of Twitter ar... read more »

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2 comments
Yellow bag
Yellow bag

Buzzing words are social bookmarking (Google stars) and social shopping, I think when people are bored of clicking around for the past years and now they are going to use the web more functional.

Jonathan Ybarra
Jonathan Ybarra

Social ecommerce comes at a price. Youre not funneling people to your website to potentially increase their cart value or consume your content. I suppose it will be most utilized to market to millennials in that theyre more likely to consume on social, more impulsive buyers, and have less money to spend anyway. It'll be interesting to see the ROI contrasted with potential foregone upsells.