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Why consumers still aren't buying social media buy buttons

Matt Kapko | June 10, 2016
Social media simply isn't an effective sales channel today, and despite social companies' efforts to rollout new forms of buying features, the slow adoption may have more to do with consumer behavioral than technology.

emarketer social media platforms used to shop for products among us social media users may 2016 
Credit: eMarketer

The foundation of social commerce has improved, and the leading platforms removed some of the friction in the purchase process, but mobile shoppers generally haven't noticed, according to eMarketer. "Buy buttons have been appearing sporadically across social media, often in limited tests, so it's fair to assume that consumer familiarity is low," Cowen and Company wrote in its report. "Social media does play a role in consumers' purchase behavior, but typically real-world connections and shopping-specific content take precedence over more general tweets and status updates." 

Future of social commerce uncertain

S&P Global Research Analyst Seth Shafer says he's unsure of the long-term viability of buy buttons. "I think the jury is still out if there's a real demand for tight, one-click integration between social and ecommerce or if consumers are happy enough with the status quo and comfortable using different apps or services for different purposes," he says. 

Today's buy buttons simply don't reflect the ways social commerce happens, according to Polk. Social provides an "assist if anything," and marketers demand more meaningful results than mere "directional metrics" or general assumptions on ROI, she says. "There's something in the behavior that we're missing, something that we are inherently getting wrong," Polk says. "Just because the people are there, and the data is there, doesn't mean this is the new shopping mall."

However, click-to-purchase features could still catch on via social media eventually, she says. "Clearly, Twitter's failure in this space has not scared off Snapchat … I don't think we've seen the end of the experimentation."


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