Wednesday 24 September, 2014
Facebook is determined to commercialize its 1.3 billion user strong platform. It’s now testing a ‘Buy’ button where people can buy products on Facebook without even leaving the site. Users can do pretty much everything on Facebook, so why not shop as well?
The new feature could turn Facebook into a shopping bonanza and a major money maker for advertisers and investors. It could also be the final straw that alienates its regular users and finally starts them leaving the social media network. At the moment, only time will tell.
A Dream Come True for Businesses
For businesses, it’s a dream come true. We’ve fought hard to try to wring revenues out of the social media site. So far, all we’ve managed to accrue are likes and shares and, if we’re lucky, brand awareness. But with this new button, you can actually earn money directly through your Facebook presence. It’s a dream come true.
Testing Is Underway
Testing began on July 17. Facebook made the official announcement on its blog: “Today we’re beginning to test a new feature to help businesses drive sales through Facebook in News Feed and on Pages. With this feature, people on desktop or mobile can click the ‘Buy’ call-to-action button on ads and Page posts to purchase a product directly from a business, without leaving Facebook.”
The site has selected a number of mid-sized and small businesses to start testing the feature for a fee. The feature puts a small “Buy” button on the lower right-hand corner of the ad. When a user clicks there, they make a purchase.
There are some doubts about how effective the Buy button will be considering users’ general mistrust of Facebook. Its recent efforts to monetize have been seen as traitorous actions by its users, even though there has never been any talk of charging to use the site. Many Facebook users feel a sense of entitlement about the service, and these moves to monetize they see as a betrayal.
However, there are very real privacy concerns. In order to use the feature, users have to enter their debit or credit card information into Facebook. Considering the company’s perceived disregard for user privacy in the past, this is a risky proposition. Many users may not bite.
Facebook Takes on Amazon
The Buy button is one way for Facebook to monetize its 1.3 billion strong user base. It’s also seen by many as a direct challenge to Amazon. There has been a Facebook-Amazon rivalry quietly gathering steam in recent years, with the undisputed heavyweight champ of ecommerce and the social media king of the heap making moves to steal each other’s thunder. It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming years.