Feb 27, 2013

The Purchasing Power of a Hashtag

It’s all got to start somewhere, right?

The idea of social gifting and buying has been around for a while (probably longer than you think).  We’ve seen Facebook Storefronts, social gifting apps, programs like Boomerang and Wrapp, and more. But this February, American Express took social shopping one step further, allowing users to directly purchase American Express gift cards by simply tweeting a hashtag.

It’s so simple, yet it’s been years (well, a year) in the making. For a while now, users have been able to sync their American Express cards to their Twitter accounts using the credit card company’s own proprietary software, Card Sync. After confirming your card, you’re ready to make purchases.

On February 13, American Express (@AmericanExpress) revealed its first set of exclusive Twitter offers including a $25 American Express gift card (for only $15), an Amazon Kindle Fire HD for $149.99, and an Xbox 360 4GB console package for $179.99.

Users had 15 minutes to claim the deals by tweeting a hashtag such as #BuyAmazonKindleFireHD. Users who had synced their American Express card then tweeted the hashtag automatically ordered the hashtagged item. All transactions were done via the American Express Card Sync keeping users credit card information private and secure.

So, now that it’s begun, where will this type of social commerce go? Right now, there are plenty of concerns about buying directly via a social channel. But remember 10 years ago? Shopping online (even on a merchant’s site) had the same taboo. Now, making an online or application-based purchased is as common as going to a brick and mortar store (for this savvy shopper, at least).

Where do I think it will go? As time goes on, the evolution of how we buy will inevitably change. As technology moves us faster and faster, I know I’ll want a faster way to buy. Why not buy (for a great deal, of course) an item on Twitter, a place I’m already going multiple times per day? As e-commerce continues to change, merchants will have to target users in places they are, likewise, going everyday organically.

Hashtag buying brings a new ease to shopping that we have yet to experience in the social space. No shipping forms. No entering a credit card number. Nada. Just tweet, and it can be yours. And for bona fide impulse shoppers like me, this is an exciting (and potentially very lucrative) space for brands to play.