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Pay by hashtag: Twitter wants to get inside your wallet

Caitlin McGarry | Jan. 27, 2014
Twitter is reportedly working on an e-commerce project powered by Stripe, a company that acts behind the scenes to process payments for sharing-economy startups such as Lyft, Postmates, and Sidecar. What that social-shopping initiative will look like is still unclear, but this isn't the first time Twitter or other social networks have set their sights on retail.

Social-conversion platform Chirpify is helping companies turn Twitter hashtags into actions in a way that doesn't annoy users. A recent campaign involving Lady Gaga let Twitter users hashtag their tweets to get a package with the pop star's latest album. In Chirpify's promotions, users aren't storing their financial information with Twitter—Chirpify's team sees the promotional hashtag and directs the user to a payment page.

But the companies working with Chirpify are letting the hashtag speak for itself.

"You don't want to carpet bomb," Chirpify CEO Kevin Tate told TechHive. "You want to let the conversation be about other things. It lets customers who are interested raise their hand and continue the conversation from there."

That conversation could begin outside of Twitter. If a brand includes a hashtag in a print ad or TV commercial, for example, Twitter users could enter that hashtag to take advantage of deals on the social network.

"Instead of just watching a commercial with a hashtag, you can use the hashtag to get something," Tate says.

Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and the retailers who want to translate eyeballs into sales are ultimately just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Hashtags that trigger actions, gift-card purchasing options, the ability to sync your credit cards to social networks—all of these things are grand experiments conducted in an effort to get inside your wallet.

 

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