Interstellar Digital Marketing

Making Sense of Social Commerce: How Do “Buy” Buttons Differ on Social Media Channels

Last week was a big one for the world of social commerce. Instagram announced a bunch of new tools for advertisers, including “Shop Now,” “Install Now” and “Sign Up” buttons. And Pinterest announced “Buyable” pins, which will allow consumers to purchase directly in the Pinterest app without leaving to visit another site or app. These social channels are just the most recent ones to make major moves in ecommerce--Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr announced ecomm initiatives throughout 2014.

Most brands won’t have the resources to leverage every single one of these channels. So how do you know which one is right for your brand? Firstly, you need to understand which channel is used most by your target audience. If yours is a male dominated audience, Buyable Pins are probably not the best option for you. Or if baby boomers make up the majority of your customers, Instagram is likely a bad choice. But if you have a young, female audience, both of these channels could make sense.

In addition to audience, you need to consider targeting capabilities, costs, shipping and fulfillment responsibilities and other details of each channel. Following are the main aspects of each social commerce offering:

Pinterest Buyable Pins

  • A new blue “Buy It” button will appear on applicable Pins
  • Pinners can search for products by price and filter through colors within the pin itself
  • Retailers using Shopify and Demandware can easily add Buyable Pins by enabling Pinterest in their account
  • Payments are made via ApplePay or a credit card
  • Shipping and customer service is still handled by the retailers
  • Pinterest isn't taking a cut of Buyable Pins, but rather using it as an incentive for getting more advertisers to run Promoted Pin campaigns
  • The "Buy It" button is still a few weeks out, according to the official announcement on Pinterest’s blog

Image Source: Pinterest Blog

Instagram “Action-Oriented” Ad Formats

  • Instagram’s shoppable posts are only available to advertisers as a new ad format
  • Four different actions are available: Shop Now, Install Now, Sign Up, Learn More
  • Buttons appear below the image on the right side
  • When a user clicks on the ad, a mini-browser opens within the app where they complete their action, and are promptly returned to Instagram
  • Payments will not be processed directly within the app, however
  • Ads will begin appearing in a matter of weeks
  • Advertisers will (one day) be able to buy through Facebook’s ad manager or partners that have access to a new Instagram Ads API
  • API partners include 4C, Ampush, Kenshoo, Salesforce, Unified and a handful of others

Image Source: Instagram Blog

Facebook "Buy" Buttons

  • “Buy” CTA buttons found on ads or posts allow users to purchase directly on Facebook without leaving the site/app
  • Available on both desktop and mobile devices
  • Initial tests started with just a few merchants, but this week expanded to some select retailers using Shopify

Image Source: Shopify Blog

Twitter "Buy" Buttons

  • A “Buy” button appears on shoppable tweets
  • Clicking on the button displays a pop up window, where users enter credit card and shipping information
  • Payment information is stored with Stripe, who also processes the payments
  • Currently, only a few retail and entertainment brands are able to leverage buyable tweets

Image Source: Twitter Blog

Tumblr CTA Buttons

  • Tumblr’s commerce options are limited to products or campaigns on Etsy, Artsy, Kickstarter and
  • Button CTAs include “Buy” for Etsy, “Browse” for Artsy, “Pledge” for Kickstarter and “Get Involved” for
  • Buttons only appear in the mobile app
  • Etsy "Buy" buttons also include the price
  • Clicking on any of these buttons directs the user out of Tumblr’s app, and onto the appropriate page on the site in question
  • These buttons are automatically added when a user posts a link to any of the sites; brands and the four sites cannot directly control this (besides posting these links on Tumblr themselves)
  • Tumblr has not commented on any financial compensation they are receiving from these four sites

Image Source: Me

As you can see, each of the various channels had unique features, functionality and limitations to their “Buy” buttons. The common thread throughout is clear, however--every social network is trying to leverage their massive audiences to bring more value to merchants and users, and bring more revenue for their platforms. While 2014 was more of a foundation building year, 2015 is shaping up to be the year we really start to figure out social commerce.

Which network do you think will announce “Buy” buttons next? My money’s on SnapChat. 

Curious about some of the advantages and disadvantages of social commerce? Check out our blog "The Rise of Social & Search Commerce."