When you think of online shopping destinations, Twitter may not be the first place that comes to mind. However, with ecommerce sales continuing to rise due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, social platforms want in on the action.
On Instagram, business owners can add a "shop" feature to their profile, allowing users to make purchases directly from the profiles of their favorite brands. Similarly, TikTok teased an upcoming shop feature and integration with Shopify earlier this year. Now Twitter is testing new strategies to integrate online shopping experiences into the user experience.
The platform previously had a "Buy Now" button before retiring the feature in 2017 to focus on other avenues. Now Twitter appears to be circling back on this idea giving business account holders new tools for converting customers on the platform potentially turning Twitter into a space where buyers can discover new products while engaging in conversation with brands and communities.
Here’s what we know about Twitter’s commerce experiments so far.
Why Twitter Is Testing Ecommerce Features
In early 2021, Twitter executives announced their goal to double revenue to $7.5 billion and reach 315 million active users by the end of 2023.
Working towards such ambitious goals, Twitter is looking to introduce new revenue streams to help grow and monetize its user base – and one of those key streams is an ecommerce play designed to give businesses the tools they need to drive conversational sales.
During Twitter’s 2021 investor’s call Bruce Falck, Revenue Product Lead at Twitter said:
"We’re also starting to explore ways to better support commerce on Twitter. Our MAP (mobile application program) efforts help us understand how our users are transacting on the platform. Installing an app via an ad is in itself a form of commerce. We know people come to Twitter to interact with brands and discuss their favorite products.
In fact, you may have even noticed some businesses already developing creative ways to enable sales on our platform. This demand gives us confidence in the power of combining real-time conversation with an engaged and intentional audience."
Essentially, the platform has aggressive business goals over the next two years and sees commerce as a viable way to increase engagement and revenue opportunities outside of traditional advertising.
Twitter's Ecommerce Test
The Shop Module
In July 2021, Twitter rolled out a robust ecommerce test: The Shop Module.
The Shop Module will allow brands to display products in a carousel format at the top of the profile. When a user visits a brand’s Twitter account, they will be able to scroll through a handful of products, have the ability to tap in to learn more about each product, and eventually purchase.
This initial test is designed to determine the shopability of Twitter profiles. Though consumers typically visit Twitter to connect directly with brands for questions and customer service inquiries, Twitter is looking to understand what in-app behavior can drive users to make a purchase. As more data is collected, it will be interesting to see if Twitter can see a clear link between conversation topics and sales of related products through the platform.
Twitter has rolled out this feature to a small number of brands across industries based in the United States, and Twitter users based in the U.S. who use the English app on iOS devices are currently able to see it live.
With the feature being deployed to business profiles offering vastly different products, Twitter is also testing which product verticals sell from the platform. See The Shop Module in action below.
Shoppable Twitter Cards
In March 2021, Twitter also began testing commerce features for organic tweets. Essentially, tweets that feature a direct link to a shopping page or product can generate a new Twitter card with a "shop" button and auto-populated product details.
When a user clicks the shop button, they would be taken directly to the product page of the account’s website. The shoppable Twitter card appears very similar to promoted tweets. With this feature, Twitter is testing the viability of commerce through organic shares.
At the time of publication, this feature is still an experiment and hasn’t been rolled out to all Twitter users. It has been reported the shoppable Twitter card has been seen by international users and on Android devices.
How Brands Could Leverage Social Commerce on Twitter
Even if your company profile hasn’t been granted access to these new features, now is the perfect time to put a strategy in place so you can be ready to use Twitter’s commerce tools to your advantage.
1. Create organic conversation around products and services.
Consumers engage with brands on Twitter to ask questions and surface customer service inquiries. Start organically aligning your content on Twitter with products and services you’d like to highlight in the space to prepare your audience for what’s ahead with these new commerce features.
For example, a skincare company could start a conversation with its audience on Twitter about creating the ideal skincare routine. The company’s profile could start a thread with educational tweets about each essential step of an effective skincare routine and why each step is beneficial.
The audience would likely join the conversation sharing steps of their skincare routine and asking for product recommendations, creating space for the brand to share more information about its products to an engaged audience.
By continuing to prime the audience with these types of interactions, once the skincare brand gains access to Twitter’s commerce features, they can begin featuring the products discussed and measuring the audience’s response (through clicks and purchases).
2. Select a variety of products to feature on The Shop Module.
If your company profile is granted access to The Shop Module, use it as an opportunity to conduct research on what products best resonate with your Twitter audience. Try incorporating a variety of products at different price points, and regularly assess which products are getting the most click-throughs and purchases.
3. Take an experimental approach.
In the initial stages, don’t rely too heavily on using these new features to drive more sales. Instead, take a more experimental approach to gauge performance with your audience then refine your strategy when you have a more robust set of data.
When rolling out these new features, Twitter has clearly stated it is testing things out to better understand user behavior. Marketers should take the same approach to learn what resonates with their unique audiences.
With social media platforms giving brands more opportunities to sell through their platforms, marketers can find innovative ways to organically connect consumers to products and services they’ll love.