Social media is already a powerful tool used for marketing, with Facebook and Twitter being the two largest networks that help brands to enhance their consumer penetration capacities. However, social networks are now evolving from being merely social marketing companies to those that facilitate social buying. In a related development, Twitter has introduced a feature called Twitter Offers, which aims to allow brands to link their promotions and schemes to a consumer’s debit or credit card. This is quite similar to the mobile couponing segment with the only difference being that it requires the user to present a digital coupon. However, with Twitter Offers, a consumer will be entitled to receive a cash back of the said amount and this will reflect on their next card statement. This new offering is an extension of Twitter’s ‘buy’ button on its mobile app, which was launched in September, thereby giving users the provision to buy a product directly from a Tweet. They could simply click the buy button, which would then direct them to a product details page to complete the transaction. Twitter describes this feature as “a new way for advertisers to connect with consumers on Twitter and convert them to loyal customers in their stores, on their websites and in their apps”. Its working is quite simple too in that when a user sees a Twitter offer in their timeline, they only need to add it to either a debit or credit card and redeem the offer in real time.
In addition to being beneficial to the user, Twitter Offers also makes the process of calculating Return on Investment (ROI) easier for the brands, as they can now simply gauge the success of their campaigns by looking at the redemptions. Further, as there is no change in the payment network, merchants can integrate this feature into their existing network, which makes its implementation easier for brands. Interestingly the market is rife with debate on the effect of such an offering on the mobile coupon segment. According to Daniel Meehan, CEO and founder of PadSquad, “I don’t think Twitter Offers will significantly disrupt the mobile coupon segment initially, as most consumers are receiving mobile coupons already from retailers via email, via mobile searches on search-engines, via coupon-specific apps and mobile websites. As such, Twitter Offers becomes another mobile coupon/offer distribution channel for marketers, but not necessarily one that will ultimately change consumer behavior in the short-term.”
The future is expected to witness many more of such offerings from other social networks. They will however have to compete with apps that offer mobile coupons as part of their core offering. Therefore, companies like Snip Snap and RetailMeNot are expected to present stiff competition of Twitter Offers especially in the face of the growing importance of consumer loyalty.