Tag Archives: social


Bye Buy: Shoppable Tweets are no more.

It’s been a while coming, but Shoppable Tweets are finally being phased out after Twitter’s commerce team have disbanded and the social platform refocuses its efforts elsewhere. Does this mark the beginning of the end of shoppable social?

Twitter is facing all sorts of challenges around securing a purpose and business model which ensures its future. As an organisation, they’re still unsure of exactly what they offer the market and where revenue should come from. At this point, functionality which is not core to their product is simply a distraction.

With that for context, it would be rash to claim this sounds the death knell for the concept of ‘Buy Now’ buttons outside of e-commerce environments, and as Twitter may be stepping away from commerce in social, other platforms invest more in to it.

Pinterest have been supporting ‘buyable pins’ for about 18 months. As a platform which is both a highly visual environment that can ‘face up’ products extremely well, and providing significant inspiration and research tool for many users – adding the ability to immediately own something that you discover whilst in this headspace feels like a very native part of the Pinterest experience. In contrast, the leap from reading to buying was often much larger with Twitter.

Instagram too have recently launched shoppable tags, with a limited number of brands such Kate Spade coming on board as launch partners. Another highly visual platform, Instagram often features products in brand channels, promoted posts and consumer posts – so again this feels like a very natural place to close the gap between inspiration, desire and purchase. Instagram’s further attraction is its high profile authors – the celebrities and influencers posting content on a regular basis. If Taylor Swift posts a selfie, featuring a tagged shoppable item to her 64 million followers, you can pretty much ensure a healthy return on a piece of non-paid media.

Others are dabbling too.

YouTube has shoppable video and Facebook has a range of shoppable formats. Brands have toyed with various types of shoppable content – Burberry’s shoppable live-streamed catwalk during the 2016 London Fashion Week is a notable example of allowing customers to buy immediately, not having to wait until product hit the shelves.

And therein lies the insight. The increasing on-demand expectation of consumers, that they be able to buy something whenever and however they see it, means brands are constantly looking for ways of making their brand as accessible as possible.

Where it fails, however, is if the moment or context is wrong.

A predominantly textual experience does not make for a good shopping experience for many brands – poor Twitter.

A visual feast, with great photography and rich video – in other words, the closest thing to holding the product in your hand (VR not withstanding) is a significant part of “new retail” – and using frictionless payment technology, smart integration of stock availability and rapid fulfilment means Inspiration and Purchase can exist within the same two swipes.

So, this is the end of the first generation of shoppable media – the blunt approach of making everything shoppable has passed. Here comes the next generation, and now it’s time to learn from early experimentation and apply it intelligently.

Slapping a Buy Now button onto every piece of media and communications is not clever. No-one wants to be sold to constantly. But enabling purchase in the most meaningful and relevant moments, and making that experience as effortless as possible? Well, that’s new retail.

Originally posted at: Retail Week

The Screw You Coefficient

“Flickr users hate video. Digg users don’t want their site to become DiggSpace. Facebook users are sick and tired of application invites. Unfortunately for you, these companies couldn’t care less, and I’ll tell you why.”

There has been plenty of talk recently over whether social networks, or indeed any small loved app or site, which grow in both users and functionality, forget about their core idea which made them so great and loved in the first place. Twitter for instance is still relatively simple and holds true its original idea, whereas Digg are adding social networking tools, Flickr have added video support, amazon sell food, tesco sell insurance – okay maybe i’m over-extending. But the discussion is a valid one. Mashable, from which the quote above comes, propose the ‘screw you coefficient’ – one method of deciding whether a new piece of functionality or approach will make improved revenue for your one-time-blog-now-mega-super-app.com, contrasting loss of users against increased wonga.

Personally, whether its a commercial decision or not, I’m not sure adding 100s of new features is always a good thing. In fact, I lie, I’m sure it is not a good thing.

For instance, as i mentioned above, twitter does one thing, and does it extremely (mostly) well. They’ve created a well rounded API which allows others to extend their core functionality, but twitter.com itself is staying true to the central idea. They do need to be a little careful, recent interface changes are adding more and more links, @replies and following topics etc. etc. are neat additions, but much more and it could go the way of Microsoft Word – a 1000 new features, where most people only use a handful.

This is why 37signals tools are loved and arguably hated in equal measure. Their perceived ‘arrogance’ towards developing applications the way they see fit is actually keeping their tools simple and effective, rather than curtailing to pressure to add this, add that. Heck, I still use notepad.exe daily, i love gtalk’s simplicity over any other IM, my favourite colour is whitespace (its actually red but works for making my point), and fit for purpose is always better than bloat for possibility.

In creating the first few pages for disposablememoryproject.org, I had to remind myself of that. i’d started creating page after page after page, one for contact, one for the concept, one for every paragraph in essence, until I stopped myself. This could go on a single page – everything the user needs within one screen – bang! and the dirt is gone! So, I rehashed, and rebuilt into a single page. So much simpler.

Having to write the postcards/instructions was similar. I originally wrote a longer set of instructions, but realising the text limit restrictions on moo.com postcards, I had to sub sub sub, into just a few lines – and for the user – that is SO much better – bang! and the waffle is gone!

Applications are the same – simple fit for purpose tools to enable you to do what you need/want in a super simple, low barrier to entry, way. The problem comes when you find yourself switching between 20 apps to carry out each distinct task, thats when the argument for bloating your product appears – but honestly it shouldn’t need to. Open APIs and data portability aim to allow for interchange of data between all of these apps (that’s the plan anyway), leaving each app’s interface to do what IT does well.

Simple is good, simple is powerful, simple is relaxing.