Twitter Is Getting Serious About Commerce

Twitter's latest deal with Square to felicitate donation for US Presidential Elections via tweets shows its keenness to make commerce happen on its platform


2015 so far has been a stellar year for the social networking giants in terms of releasing action oriented product features. This year social networks from Facebook to Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter, everyone is moving out of the mould of engagement-only networks. Convincing advertisers and users that even commerce can happen on their platform is the new mantra.

The 140-character social network, Twitter, still overcoming growth issues, has been working on ways to integrate commerce via tweets. According to a latest company announcement, Twitter had partnered with Square to enable anyone in the US to make a donation directly to a US candidate through a Tweet. “This is the fastest, easiest way to make an online donation, and the most effective way for campaigns to execute tailored digital fundraising, in real time, on the platform where Americans are already talking about the 2016 election and the issues they are passionate about.”

Giving a preview about how the service works for political campaigners and donors - Political campaigners need to set up an account with Square Cash and then Tweet a unique URL, or $Cashtag, to request donations from supporters. The Tweet will have an image and a “contribute” button, making it easy for anyone to click to donate directly through the Tweet.

Twitter_Square Campaign

Thereafter donors can hit the contribute button to support their party. The Tweet will enable donors to select a donation amount and add debit card and FEC required information. At the end of the transaction, donors have the option to Tweet the candidate’s $Cashtag to their followers or return to where they were in Twitter.

To complement this process, Twitter has developed tools like country-specific notifications that remind people to register to vote, richer Tweets that make email collection for campaigns easier, and real-time audience tailoring so advertisers can better identify and target relevant conversations.

Though the 2016 presidential election is still nearly a year away, campaigns are in full swing with candidates becoming a trending topic on Twitter. TechCrunch reports that before the launch Twitter met with every major presidential candidate. So far nine presidential candidates and the Democratic National Committee are on board. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio have all already fired off tweets asking for donations.

Jeb Bush and Donald Trump notably are not on the list of candidates using the service.

The latest deal of Twitter and Square initiative gives a major push of the presidential campaigning that is also being fought on digital extensively. President Obama’s success at leveraging the Internet to drive a grassroots campaign in 2008 and 2012 is an excellent case study.

Looking at Twitter’s past the company has tried hard associating with political class and during elections. During the 2014 general elections in India, Twitter did interesting integration with leading TV channels and publishers.

Twitter’s latest deal with Square also makes it serious about commerce. Last year around September, Twitter made a big announcement that it is testing its first commerce product. Twitter said on its blog that for a small percentage of U.S. users (that will grow over time), some Tweets from the test partners will feature a “Buy” button, letting one buy directly from the Tweet.

Twitter had promised that, “Users will get access to offers and merchandise they can’t get anywhere else and can act on them right in the Twitter apps for Android and iOS; sellers will gain a new way to turn the direct relationship they build with their followers into sales.”

The latest deal reminds us that Twitter is working on making commerce happen and gaining advertisers’ confidence. Although both the companies, Twitter and Square are led by Jack Dorsey.