In 2015, the word floating around was that Twitter had gotten stagnant. Audience growth had slowed down, ad revenue was decelerating. Some marketers were already predicting the fall of Twitter.
Perhaps it was in reaction to all this doom and gloom that the company has made some changes in the past week.
Bye-Bye Buy Button
Social commerce revenue seemed promising last year. In 2015, “revenues peaked at $14 billion in the U.S. and $30 billion worldwide” (source). The assumption by many marketers was that, with impulse buying being as big as ever, consumers’ desire to shop for what’s attractive and directly in front of them would translate to the social media world.
In some cases, this seems to hold true. Pinterest, a very visual social platform that advocates saving, or “pinning”, a tremendous variety of goods, lends itself to impulse buying. Often—in fact, 93% of—users “plan purchases based upon the pins that they view” (source). Polyvore is another such visual social tool, only dedicated to fashion and outfit preparation, and as such has also proved itself as a social commerce giant.
But despite the numbers looking favorable, with expert predictions of those numbers tripling (and beyond), Twitter is one social network that has pulled out of the social commerce race by removing the “Buy” button. This button, originally implemented in 2014 as a test within a small population, has not been adopted by the population as fast as Twitter would have liked. According to a BuzzFeed source, “people are not buying on social media right now,” and Twitter can no longer justify the continuation of their “Buy” team.
Does this cast doubt on the success of social commerce despite the fanfare of analysts? The situation is not certain yet, but it does appear that not all social media lend themselves to direct purchases.
In its place, Twitter has shifted resources into Dynamic Product Ads which have already shown promising results.
On a more positive note for Twitter marketers, Twitter announced an important change to its API that will make the 140-character limit much more palatable. The changes will exclude @names (usernames) and media attachments from the character count.
Tweets will have stricter formatting to allow for this development: a three-region split made up of a hidden prefix region, a display text region, and a hidden suffix region. The prefix region will contain the @mentions and be rendered as metadata. The display text region is where your 140 characters of content will go. The suffix region is where any attachments (e.g. GIFs, images, quote tweets) will live. (source)
What could this mean? Well, for starters, much more complete and clear messaging to audiences, without the awkward grammar workarounds. More liberal usage of visuals. Easier on-the-spot tweets when covering live events or a live Twitter chat, as more complete thoughts could be conveyed faster through photos and links. This new wiggle room could be what it takes to elevate Twitter marketing techniques.
What do you think about these changes? How do you feel about Twitter from a marketing standpoint? Do you think the removal of the buy button was a mistake or a smart move? Let us know in the comments.