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Snapchat, Twitter Gains Reflect Social Media’s Growing Commerce Ambitions

It was a good day in earnings for social media networks yesterday, as both Twitter and Snap Inc. reported their strongest growth in years, narrowing losses, major advances to their active user counts and ambitions to do more with their social media platforms to insert them into the world of commerce. 

Snap’s Super App Ambitions 

Now 293 million users strong, Snap has definitive set its sights on social commerce as it continues its evolution from a social media site into a super-app that can serve a multitude of purposes for its users. Prior to the pandemic, Snap launched eCommerce developer tools and AR products to open a wider range of digital commerce options for its consumers, an act it followed up on in April with its acquisition of Screenshot, allowing Snapchat users to upload screenshots of outfits they like and get in-app recommendations for similar purchases.

In its earnings call this week, the brand continued to highlight its increasingly extensive expansion into the world for commerce during Q2 — such as the release of TrueSize technology, designed to improve eyewear sizing and wrist tracking technology, and the expansion of its Snap Scan into areas such as fashion and food. According to Snap, the feature is already used by more than 170 million Snapchatters every month to “identify dog breeds and plants, discover recipes, and shop for clothing.”

In addition, Snap called out its Q2 Salesforce integration, which allows brands to leverage their first-party data to reach Snapchatters with relevant ads, and its new partnership with Verishop to launch a social commerce experience within the Snap app.

Verishop Mini, which will live exclusively within Snapchat, will allow consumers to shop a rotating selection of fashion and beauty brands such as Bebe, Fifth & Nine, Kosas and Blume, while also utilizing Snapchat’s augmented reality (AR) feature to virtually sample products and accessories prior to purchase. Verishop Mini will integrate directly with Snapchat’s chat feature, making it easy for users to share their finds with friends and family.

“The Verishop Mini makes it easy and fun for our community to shop fashion and beauty favorites expertly curated just for them, right alongside their friends on Snapchat,” said Alston Cheek, director of platform partnerships at Snap.

Twitter

And Snap is far from alone in branching out from its traditional core business as a social media hub. Twitter, coming off its biggest growth spurt in seven years after its latest earnings update, is also eyeing plans to expand its offering more directly into the world of commerce.

“We saw our audience grow massively last year when everybody around the world went into shelter in place. Advertisers, in many ways, paused and had to decide how they wanted to show up. I’m not sure how this will play out given different countries around the world are coming out and going back into the shelter in place at different times. But what we can tell is advertisers have products that they want to launch and they want to connect with their customers, [and] Twitter’s becoming a better and better place for them to do that,” Twitter CFO Ned Segal noted in an interview post-earnings release

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also highlighted the company’s new and growing dedication to bitcoin during his call with analysts, pointing out that crypto stands  as the “best candidate” to become the “native currency” of the internet — and thus critical to fueling Twitter’s expansion into commerce and transactions like with additions including commerce, subscriptions, the Twitter Tip Jar and Super Follows.

That latter two, notably, are additions to the platform as of Q2, when Twitter also announced the launch of Super Follows, features that according to Twitter’s Q2 letter to investors  are designed to “enable people to directly support creators through tipping and allow people to pay for access to exclusive live audio experiences with Ticketed Spaces and other exclusive content available via monthly subscription through Super Follows.”

The new race in social media, it seems, is officially, on as sites like Twitter and Snap are increasingly pushing to be places where consumers come to do more than just hang out, but to transact.  

Will these increasing moves into commerce work for social media firms, when historically social commerce plays have been hampered by consumers’ apparent lack of interest in transacting on social media platforms? It’s hard to say from the outset, but it is at least fair to note that consumers are quite a bit different that they were even 18 months ago, before the pandemic. According to PYMNTS data, consumers are now a little more open-minded about social commerce. Some 40 percent of consumers would be interested in a “super portal” that keeps track of shopping and payment data as well as connections with family and friends. Furthermore, 55 percent of consumers shop on marketplace apps more now than they did before the pandemic, and 34 percent say they now make purchases via mobile apps. 

Meaning that although we’re seeing big social commerce moves coming out of Q2, the market may really only be getting started as the customer base, it seems, is finally warming up to the idea.

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