When you're browsing the Internet, you're deluged with advertisements. Social media marketing integration has embedded sponsored ads into our news feeds.
Some users have browser plug-ins that prevent certain advertisements from appearing in their view. Other users simply tune out advertising all together. However, Twitter is testing new ways to integrate advertising and the purchasing process directly into our social media experience.
In early September, Twitter released an official blog post about these tests that allow brands to post Tweets with a small blue "buy" button. Users who select that option are shown a screen that contains their payment and shipping information, an interface built into Twitter. The accompanying promotional video asserts that "your payment information is stored securely." After the user taps "save and continue," they get to review the purchase. Twitter then emails a confirmation receipt of the purchase.
So far, only a few accounts in the United States have access to this "buy now" feature. A limited number of brands and artists have tested sales directly through Twitter. The pilot includes several musicians and bands, such as Wiz Khalifa, Paramore, Megadeth, Soundgarden and The New Pornographers.
It seems Twitter has been priming its social networking platform to include extensive advertising and payment systems for quite some time, having acquired ecommerce startups MoPub, TapCommerce and CardSpring.
MoPub specialized in demographic targeting, allowing brands to connect with prospective customers using location-based technologies. TapCommerce has helped app companies discover their ideal mobile audiences, driving increased app downloads and installations. In July, Twitter took over CardSpring, a company that helps break down the boundaries between online and brick-and-mortar shopping. Their systems allow users to add online discounts directly to their payment information and take advantage of the deal at retail locations.
However, another social media uprising has been popping up in the media lately, one that is critical of the mix between advertising and social media. Ello.co has experienced an explosion of viral interest, with up to 38,000 signups per hour. Ello has some very lofty goals, taking a sharp stance against advertising and the use of your personal information in marketing efforts. In the company's WTF section, the Ello manifesto states, "We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate — but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life." Many social media experts are keeping a close eye on the Ello beta, to see if they're able to maintain their promise of no advertising.
For now, Twitter's payment system is still in testing. However, it is likely that they'll be expanding their list of supported brand names and payment options. Your social media account and wallet are about to get a little closer.