The news that Twitter has hired its first Head of Commerce comes with indications that retailers will soon be able to sell stuff directly from tweets. With an IPO looming, it makes sense for Twitter to expand revenue streams beyond advertising. But I can’t help worrying about what this means for the Twitter user experience.
Already, our Twitter feeds are groaning under the weight of self-promotional tweets, auto-posts, Foursquare check-ins (note to perpetrators: nobody cares), and awkward attempts at newsjacking.
With Twitter’s #music service, the company has actively paved the way for a deluge of #nowplaying tweets. More noise to wade through between the morsels of wit and value that brought many of us to Twitter in the first place.
Adding tweet-based selling will only lower the signal-to-noise ratio for the majority of us who don’t come to Twitter in shopping mode.
Twitter is an attractive proposition for retailers due to its impressive targeting capabilities. But any brands thinking about using the platform for selling should be wary. People visit Amazon with shopping in mind. Twitter users are looking for news and updates from friends.
The challenge is to change behaviour from content consumption and social connection to buying, in a way that’s not just adding to the noise levels. As we’ve seen with Facebook’s damp-squib forays into e-commerce, that’s no easy task.
What do you think? Will Twitter work as a sales channel?