Twitter-Buy-functionA new selling option is coming to a Twitter feed near you. Is your brand ready to sell on the social network? Learn more about the news along with 3 ways to prepare your brand for when the time is right by reading more.

The Actual Announcement and Why Its Timing is Significant

On Monday, September 8, Twitter announced through its blog that a “Buy” button roll out was officially underway. Because rumors of such a feature had been running rampant for some time, this served as more of a formality than a groundbreaking news alert.

While other large networks, including Facebook, have been experimenting in the commerce area with test users and brands, Twitter’s announcement demonstrated that it was stepping up to the plate to compete. The timing is not coincidental.

As the blog post states, “We are beginning to test a new way for you to discover and buy products on Twitter. For a small percentage of U.S. users (that will grow over time), some Tweets from our test partners will feature a ‘Buy’ button, letting you buy directly from the Tweet.”

The feature is said to be a first step toward building in functionality that allows all users to shop from mobile devices while allowing partner brands to increase their online footprint and marketing reach through the platform.

Understanding the Details and Timeline

From information gleaned from early tests, users will be able to complete purchases on the network with a few clicks. When an ad is displayed with a “Buy” button, first-time buyers will be prompted to enter payment and shipping details. From there, information will be sent to retailers who complete the transaction in the same way they would complete any other online purchase.

Buyers who have completed a purchase through Twitter in the past will have fewer steps: exactly one. Shipping and credit card information will be stored in the system to make the purchasing process as easy as possible with few potential barriers to a completed transaction.

On this end, Twitter made it clear that security would remain a top priority, which is critical considering the credit card security breaches that have affected many big retailers like Home Depot and Target in the past year alone.

“Payment and shipping information is encrypted and safely stored after your first transaction so you can easily buy on Twitter in the future without having to re-enter all of your information,” the post explains. Furthermore, customers will be able to remove the “store” option from their accounts and information will not be shared directly with retailers.

So far, musicians, brands and charities including Brad Paisley (@bradpaisley), The Home Depot (@homedepot), (RED) (@RED), Eminem (@eminem), Burberry (@burberry) and Beartooth (@beartoothbrand), among others, have been granted access as part of the initial trial.

Benefits for You and Your Customers

Twitter’s “Buy” button is promoted as having benefits for both the consumer and the retailer. From the company’s perspective, they are as follows:

Company Benefits

According to the network, retailers will have a new way to market to their followers that they’ve worked hard to establish. This makes sense; if you’ve worked to build an audience, why not remove the step that requires leaving the network to make a purchase? By bringing it together there’s a clear benefit as far as conversion potential coupled with an already interested and engaged audience.

Consumer Benefits

For now, the brand claims that Twitter users will have access to special offers and merchandise that cannot be found elsewhere along with an easy and seamless transaction process.

Ways to Prepare for the “Buy” Button’s Expansion

1. Play the Waiting Game

Just because something is new and accompanied by great promises doesn’t mean it will be right for your brand. Think through your marketing strategy; would social network sales complement your efforts or would they stretch you too thin?

Watch for other – similar – retailers to give the system a try. If they see success, great. If not, it might be best to wait until modifications have been made to the system. There’s a reason online trials are trials, there could be risks involved; this is especially relevant to small businesses who don’t have a lot of room for failure.

2. Clean Up Your E-Commerce Methods

Are you still using the same e-commerce system or site that you created when you created your first website? How clean is the process that happens between customers placing an online order and your company fulfilling that order? If there are hiccups in your current process, extending your reach to Twitter might cause additional complications. Instead, work now to enhance your system and to eliminate any flaws that might exist to allow for a smooth extension on Twitter when it becomes available.

3. Focus on Social Engagement

Selling on Twitter will only be effective if your followers are engaged with and aware of your brand. That means the time to focus is now.

To work on building your following, consider the following:

  • Interact daily. Set time aside on a regular basis to Tweet.
  • Get personal. Take the time to read the Tweets of your followers, retweet some of them, respond to messages and reach out when possible through direct messages.
  • Thank followers for their mentions. A little gratitude can go a long way.
  • Offer promotions to your followers and encourage sharing.
  • Host Twitter contests.
  • Set up or participate in Tweet chats on a regular basis.

While Twitter’s new “Buy” button is only available to a limited number of trial partners, it’s likely that it will become more widely offered in the near future. Take the time to watch what happens and to prepare now for when that opportunity arises. Additional selling opportunities could mean higher conversions and larger profits, but, only time will tell. For now, get ready; a shift toward social network sales has only just begun.