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Shoppable social: the latest way to buy online

Social media has made it easier than ever before for businesses to connect with their customer base, as well as showcasing new products and promotions. Even though social media has enabled businesses of all sizes to compete in terms of marketing, one question that advertisers and entrepreneurs have grappled with over the past few years is how much of an impact social media actually has on a business’ bottom line.

In recognition of this, and perhaps to make it easier for businesses to make more accurate assessments of the ROI on their social channels, the three major social networks have been testing and introducing new features to enable people to make purchases directly from their platforms. Read our guide to the new era of social e-commerce below.

Facebook’s ‘Buy’ button

Last summer, Facebook announced that it would be testing out a new ‘buy’ button to accompany adverts and posts on business pages, meaning that for the first time, transactions will be able to take place completely through the social media platform, rather than linking to other transaction pages as is presently the case.

Interestingly, the tests are being rolled out across small to medium-sized businesses, which hopefully means that the feature has been built with businesses of all sizes in mind. Although there were hopes that the ‘Buy’ button would be ready in time for last year’s festive season, the feature is still in QA. Facebook is currently looking at issues such as security and privacy around making purchases, and updating design features to make the user journey as intuitive as possible.

What this could mean for you

Those ‘Yay, it’s Friday’ posts that come with an image of one of your business’ joyful offerings could now have a direct link to sales. Facebook is hoping this will help to drive sales and keep customers on business pages for as long as possible. As the service is still being tested out, there are no cost indications as yet.

Twitter’s Amazon Basket

The world’s biggest e-commerce site joined forces with Twitter last year to capitalise on the social media network’s huge reach. The partnership builds on information about changing consumer behaviours online – for example, people using their mobiles to shop, more people using social media to inform purchase choices or making spontaneous purchases based on appealing items that pop up in Twitter feeds. It’s a smart method of e-commerce that aims to make life more convenient for consumers – all users have to do is ensure that their Twitter and Amazon accounts are in sync, then they can tweet #AmazonBasket by replying to any tweet featuring the URL of a product they wish to purchase. The item is then automatically added their Amazon basket.

What this could mean for you

If you sell on Amazon, you can kick back and relax (after tweeting, of course). This mechanic means you’ll reach even wider audiences as people publically share what they’ve bought with their networks, which means free marketing for you. This feature is free to use – all you have to do is tweet the URL to one of your product pages. It might be worth encouraging your customer base to sync their Twitter and Amazon accounts – publish a blog post or a few social posts to let them know that this is an additional way to buy from you. You can find out more information here.


Instagram has proven a conundrum for businesses: on the one hand, it frequently outstrips Facebook and Twitter in terms of engagement and reach, but on the other, the limit on links (only allowed in the user bio) has meant that consumers wanting to find out more about a specific product need to leave Instagram and go directly to the business’ shop, then dig around for the item in question.

To ease the customer journey, Curalate, an agency specialising in visual content marketing, created Like2Buy. It’s already been used by the likes of Nordstrom, Vogue, and Target. The tool transforms that sole link into a portal that leads to a gallery of images from a business’ Instagram feed of all the items that are available to be purchased. Users can then click on those images and head directly to the retail page. The tool also enables users to create personal wish lists by liking items, which they can go back and purchase later.

What this could mean for you:

If your business can create the beautiful images that will sit well naturally in this community, this new function means a little less work! With Instagram’s huge engagement levels and more authentic sense of community, you can continue to create and curate beautiful posts of your wares, only with fewer barriers between your customers and the items they wish to purchase. To find out more about how Like2Buy could benefit your business, sign up to Curalate here – you’ll be sent information about demonstrations and the various services that they offer.

For free, impartial business tech help and advice, why not book a session with an O2 Guru? They’re available online, in store and over the phone.

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