Developments over the last few days have raised questions over the future of social networks and their relationship with on-site advertising and purchases. It really seemed only a matter of time before Facebook or Twitter integrated an online payment system that let users buy stuff without leaving the site. Which makes it no great surprise that news has surfaced of Facebook testing a “Buy Button” that lets you complete an entire purchase flow within Facebook and Twitter acquiring CardSpring to enable developers to write applications for in-tweet payments and partnering up with Amazon so that you can #amazonbasket the stuff you want.
Is ecommerce integrated social media the future?
Whilst I am partial to a bit of online browsing and even the odd linked advert, I can’t see a future in which I want my newsfeeds jammed full of adverts and links for purchases (any more than they already are), particularly when I would rather be seeing videos of my mate’s cat doing unadvised things or scrolling through graduation photos.
Given that two of the biggest guns in social networking seem to be eyeing the green in the Ecommerce market, following Pinterest’s successful early foray, it will be interesting to see other networks’ reactions and whether they too decide it’s better to jump on the bandwagon than be left in the shadow of it.
In a society where technology is making it easier for us to do the things we enjoy on our phones or at home; like learning/gaming/shopping, I can’t help but think we are missing out on a bit of good old human interaction and I would worry that with the tight integration of social networks, advertising and payment systems we would no longer be leaving our lives open to any accident or chance. Maybe this is the sapling of big data taking root more obviously – or perhaps to some obliviously in our lives. Whilst it might help some avoid sweaty Oxford Street or Westfield stores on sticky Sunday afternoons, surely there will still be some who will spend time on the beautiful human experience that involves choosing, trying on and buying something you really like and will have and enjoy for some time – or maybe not.
Ignoring the Romantics
Ethical or romantic approaches to social networking aside, I’m pretty excited for what this means for the future of mobile payments and targeted advertising. We are edging towards a system that encourages online presence and incentivises participation and regular use of social networks. Whether built in payment systems will help or hinder Social Networks remains to be seen, I guess it’s up to all us consumers to drive that change in the direction we want.
Besides who would have thought 15 years ago that there could be a romantic notion of social networks, we were all, and still are romanticising about the purity of face-to-face social interaction.
Photo source: Facebook