Will deal tweets fly?

Dec 05, 2014

Twitter, which has been testing a "buy button" since September, last week indicated it was testing Twitter Offers, enabling retailers to tweet time-sensitive, cash-back deals that users can then claim in brick-and-mortar stores.

What’s unique about the advertised deals is that they’re tied to the users’ credit or debit card, made possible through Twitter’s July acquisition of CardSpring.

"When users see a Twitter Offer in their timeline, they can add the offer to their credit or debit card in just a few taps, and redeem in real time by using the card at the store," said Group Product Manager Tarun Jain in a blog post. "Because the offer is tied to their card, redemption is seamless and easy: there are no coupons to redeem at the point of purchase. After the purchase, the cash back savings appear on their card statement within a few days."

After users add a Twitter Offer to their credit or debit card, that card information is encrypted and safely stored to make it easier for them to claim other offers or make purchases on Twitter in the future. Users are also able to remove this information from their accounts.

For advertisers, the card link helps attribute redemptions directly to their campaigns so they can measure ROI. The offering also works with the retailer’s existing payment network with no software or training involved.

Finally, retailers would gain Twitter’s targeting capabilities that can tailor deals to specific demographics. Speaking to The New York Times, Nathan Hubbard, the former CEO of Ticketmaster, who heads Twitter’s e-commerce division, believes Twitter will eventually tap location data to tie offers to the user’s proximity.

"I think location will play a huge part of this going forward," Mr. Hubbard told the Times.

The offering will be tested with "a handful of brands" on desktop and mobile.

Speaking to Wired, Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research, questioned whether consumers would be motivated enough to link their cards to Twitter Offers. She also said the experiences of Groupon and Foursquare underscore the challenges online coupons and geolocation deal apps are facing. She said, "It seems like this is a mashup of so many ideas that have been tried before, and none of them have been wildly successful."

Do you see more potential in Twitter Offers than in Groupon, Foursquare and other online coupon services? What needs to happen for online coupons driven by social networks to take off?

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9 Comments on "Will deal tweets fly?"

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Ken Lonyai
7 years 5 months ago

This is a really interesting spin for Twitter. It’s not for me, but I think that the convenience can appeal to certain demographics, say Millennials.

If there are no security breaches that derail the potential for this, and if the offers that are made are worthwhile, and if a user’s Twitter feed isn’t overpopulated with too many of these promotions, I think the idea has legs.

Peter J. Charness
7 years 5 months ago

The potential of couponing and mobile offers becoming invasive is real. I think the next successful mobile app may be one called “leave me alone” that turns off all the spammy offers that may be headed to your cell phone. Social network-based coupons, like those from anywhere, need to be relevant to the recipient and offer a deal well worth the invasion of personal space.

Ralph Jacobson
7 years 5 months ago

There are a few determining factors in play here. First, as big as Twitter is, we have seen other big social channels fall out of favor (anyone remember Myspace? It used to have hundred of millions of members). So in the long term, we’ll have to see which social platforms are still around. Beyond that, I believe these ways of buying will continue to increase in adoption by consumer, simply because of how easy they are to use. As targeted offers get better targeted, consumers will have more compelling reasons to click on the “Buy Now” buttons.

Max Goldberg
7 years 5 months ago

Twitter need to find a way to monetize its users. This would seem to be a fit. Just because others have tried similar tactics before and failed is no reason to count Twitter out. Foursquare was cumbersome and Groupon had too many deals that did not appeal to users. Twitter, with their analytic abilities, may be able to pull this off.

This service is being launched at the same time Twitter is launching travel deals. There is a concerted effort on their part to drive some revenue.

Let’s see if users respond. That success will depend on highly-targeted offers. Otherwise, to consumers, it will just be more noise.

Gene Detroyer
7 years 5 months ago

This is really cool. The thing that makes it special is the tie-in with the credit card. It is all about convenience.

However, as some of my colleagues expressed, when will this type of communication be too much intrusion?

Zel Bianco
7 years 5 months ago

It is hard to judge Twitter in comparison to Groupon and Foursquare, which are already so tightly linked to businesses and specific locations. I can see it offering more incremental sales that Groupon or Foursquare because while people usually turn to their services with a specific item or experience in mind, people are not necessarily already looking for a deal when they look through their Twitter feeds. However, this may mean that people will skim over these coupons and tune them out as they do with most ads.

For social network coupon services to take off they must be secure and, at least in the beginning, offer high-value deals to convince people to give it a try. Once their credit card is linked to get that significant coupon they will be more likely to use it for smaller deals. They also must walk that fine line between offering targeted suggestions and badgering people and coming off as creepy.

Lee Kent
7 years 5 months ago

My first reaction to this was, “cool!” It sort of reminds me of the AMEX deals with Foursquare. If you have your AMEX card registered and you check into a place on Foursquare with an AMEX promotion, you get whatever percentage off when you make a purchase. It’s easy and just flows right to your card.

The difference here is that with Foursquare, I opt to “check in” to the place, so it is much less intrusive.

On the other hand, people who use Twitter are accustomed to being bombarded with stuff from those they follow, so this is a platform that just might work. My two cents says, let’s see where it goes.

Gajendra Ratnavel
7 years 5 months ago

This is a great idea. Time-sensitive offers have a psychological effect of being perceived as better than others. Gamification and a tie-in to a loyalty program will make this even more powerful.

Larry Negrich
7 years 5 months ago

Making this successful for Twitter requires time sensitivity, precise location, large following, complete customer profile, in-depth sales history, analytics that predicts an offer that will spur response, and a customer that heavily uses the service. That’s hard. Tying to payment is nice to have but that feature isn’t a catalyst for response. One troubling statement in the article is, “the cash back savings appear on their card statement within a few days.” That window will have to be shortened (to instantaneous) if they expect that aspect of the service to be effective. However, Twitter is a mobile-first service which gives the type of participant who may react to this process.


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