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Why social buy buttons will fail for many marketers

4 min read

Social Media

With more direct social buying options being added to the social landscape than ever before, there is a great deal of excitement from marketers on how this will transform social media marketing.

I totally get it: These opportunities hold the promise of being able to show direct revenue from social media unlike ever before, and they also seem to make things a tad easier from the buyer’s perspective as well.

While I see the promise these social buy buttons hold, I must admit that I’m a bit skeptical about the effectiveness of them – mainly because of how I can envision many marketers using them.  Will marketers be tempted to throw their social media best practices out the window and begin selling instead of connecting with consumers?  Will marketers approach these new opportunities with the same mentality of an e-commerce site or banner ads? If so, I’m afraid the misuse of these buttons will cause many to come to the conclusion that these buttons simply don’t work.

However, I do believe that if a marketer considers the following truths outlined below, and views these buttons as a tactic that plays a role in a larger consumer journey and social strategy – I do believe they will see success.  So let’s dive in and see what marketer’s need to remember when approaching these new buttons

1. Not all buyers are in the mindset to buy

Social usage is so prevalent now that users check social networks multiple times a day. At work, at home, on the toilet, at dinner with friends – you name the scenario and odds are someone is engaging with social at that very moment. Unlike visits to ecommerce websites, consumers may not be in the same “purchase” mindset the moment they see a “Buy button” in their feed.  This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make an impact on them at all, it just means that marketers have to be realistic and strategic about when their audience may be willing to make a purchase from the post in the newsfeed.  As a mom, 8 p.m. or later is potentially the only time I have to buy.

2. Not all purchases are made on impulse

Let’s face it, not all products are going to be suitable for purchasing on an impulse through buy buttons.  What works for a $20 item will not work for a $200 item.

For buy buttons to be effective, the whole strategy leading up to the buy button needs to consider more than just the “Buy” call to action, and should lead the consumer through the purchase journey.

Brands should consider the content produced leading up to the call-to-action to buy by providing content that is more educational, instructional, or even inspirational in nature.  Brands that offer products that are more of a considered purchase (think fancy TV or home appliances), will need a strategy that combines this “build-up” content, along with a great offer to compel an immediate purchase through this channel.

3. Not all social networks serve the same purpose

Marketers need to remember that not all social networks serve the same purpose, especially with multi-networking on the rise.  With this in mind, the usage of the “Buy Button” should be tailored to how a brand’s current target audience engages with that network and the mindset of the consumer is in when they are engaging.

Overall, successful brands will consider the consumer first in all their planning.  This will help the brand craft better and more effective messaging, but will also help the brand provide a tangible benefit that will incentivize consumers to overcome the initial barriers to making a first-time purchase through social networks.  

Lisa Braziel is the VP of Strategy for Ignite Social Media, one of the world’s leading social media marketing agencies. During her time at Ignite, she has co-authored the book “Social Media is a Cocktail Party” and helped develop social media strategies for many of the world’s largest brands, including Chrysler, Samsung, Disney, Nike, and Microsoft.  You can read more of her articles on