“This is the year of mobile!”
I’m pretty sure we’ve heard that for the last 5 – 7 years. And this year all the mobile-enabled social media apps are gearing up to add a BUY button to everything. What started with Pinterest is now a fad of PIN and POST and IMAGE that are almost blinding in their randomness and yet, somehow coherent depending on what app you are using, what tags or boards you are following, and what you care about. Of course the app can’t tell what you care about. But your interests are surely being tracked down to the color and brand preference for your underwear. (See these books: Click: The Forces Behind How We Fully Engage with People, Work, and Everything We Do and Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder)
Today all of your favorite social channels Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Pinterest, Instagram (owned by Facebook) and even Snapchat (almost owned by Facebook) are adding BUY buttons in the hopes that you’re ready to unlock your wallet as easily as you unlock “camera access” for these apps. In the spirit of Amazon’s “BUY NOW” button the hopes is that you will empower Twitter or Pinterest to become a one-click storefront for everything. I’m not so sure that’s how it works in social, and I’m not sure they’ve got their target audience figured out yet, but we’ve (they’ve) got to start somewhere.
Take Apple’s new Apple Music for example. Now within Apple Music you can buy the song, send it as a link to a friend or Facebook page or add it to a playlist that you can then share with friends. And while Apple is hoping you WILL click the Buy Now button, they are less dependent on your purchase that some of these other players. Apple already has all of your purchasing information, your cc# and your purchase history since the first time you joined iTunes. The millions of active accounts they own are like little charge cards all waiting to be used on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, or Android phone running iTunes.
It is like a huge banking system that Apple has set up over the years to allow you something called “frictionless sales.” You click. You buy. Your music is seamlessly delivered to your iTunes account. And while Apple doesn’t really count iTunes (music and movies) as a huge profit center, it doesn’t hurt. But the real value in Apple’s “click to buy” mentality is how it influences your next purchase of hardware (smart phone, ipad, laptop). Apple would like you to consider their pricy hardware first when you are considering a technology refresh. And for the most part, this strategy is paying off in huge dividends as Apple is the world’s richest company.
Okay, so what about everyone else? Are you ready to let Twitter access your credit card numbers? Does the idea of giving Facebook an instant “buy now” button give you a minor heart attack? Today, with all the cyber crime and identity theft, companies are going to have to earn your trust. I am not about to let Facebook know any more about me than absolutely necessary. Giving someone your “digits” is like going steady. I’m not ready to go steady with anyone but Amazon and Apple. Maybe Google, but that’s pushing it.
Let’s see how the game plays out as all of the major players enable their BUY buttons within your social media stream. The real exploit, or vulnerability will come with our kids. They don’t see the danger or the problem with clicking on almost ANY buy now button. My daughter has a habit of buying entire albums on iTunes and then apologizing for it later. (Yep, Apple’s ahead of the curve on that one to, I’m about to give her a monthly allowance, that caps her spending on iTunes.)
As social media continues to search for the R in ROI, Buy Now buttons will be showing up everywhere. I’m going to avoid them like the plague and counsel my daughter not to click on them. She doesn’t have her own CC# anyway, so for now I’m safe. But they, our digital kids, have been trained to click and buy without thinking of the cost. Often the price is not even shown. As we move into the BUY NOW ERA of PINTEREST and TWITTER let’s watch for the issues to being popping up like they did for In-Game purchases. When kids go rampant and spend money without understanding it, the industry will have to respond. For now, BUY is only a tease for my teenage kids. When they have credit cards of their own, they will already be trained to expect and use the BUY buttons.
Apple today is the master of mobile sales. The iTunes banking system is rivaled only by Amazon’s. Will we see Pinterest, Snapchat, and Twitter becoming the PayPals of tomorrow? I hope not, but I’m no longer the target demographic.