Why Twitter’s magic button could be a goldmine for travel marketers

Twitter recently announced that it's testing a new 'magic button' that lets users buy products directly via an embedded 'buy now' icon that appears in selected tweets. Mike Wheatley finds out what that could mean for travel

The idea is a simple one. Users tweet a particular product and image plus a short, sharp sales pitch, and embed the 'buy now' button. With a click on the button, users can then be redirected to a sales confirmation page with additional information on the product, and a form to enter shipping information. Once the form is filled in, the order is completed.

Right now Twitter's magic button only appears in limited beta tests, with just a few partners actively using it. It'll be a while before every marketer and his dog can actually begin using the feature, but it's definitely worth highlighting. Not only does it show how seriously Twitter is taking ecommerce, but also illustrates how social media in general is evolving into a discovery platform that marketers need to take seriously.

What Twitter’s magic button means for online travel

Although Twitter's main focus at the moment appears to be on actual, physical products, this magic button could be a potential gold mine for anyone selling holidays, tours or flights. For one thing, there are few better social media channels to tempt travellers with than Twitter.

Speaking at TDS North America last week, Jeff Flores, Head of Travel, Twitter shared some of the best practices being applied by travel brands. He touched on successful Twitter campaigns including Emirates’ #hellochicago contest and giveaway, Travelocity’s #sharkweek and hotels.com’s #captainobvious, among others.

Emirates’ campaign, to target a new route from between Chicago and Dubai included a strong visual element as well as a call-to-action contest that encouraged people in Chicago to tweet Dubai-related pictures capturing the letters H, E, L, L and O. The Travelocity campaign, on the other hand, engaged users with a fun, interactive game that involved using geo-location functionality to discover how close they were to the nearest shark.

Given the open, free, mobile and potentially viral nature of Twitter, a platform that has mobile in its DNA, Flores says it knows no boundaries and the firm is increasingly gathering data that can be used to attract and target audiences in meaningful ways. But he’s also quick to stress that it's also important that users know how to use it and one of the best practice tips given by Flores was as follows:

·         Broaden your reach by putting a period before your @mention. By doing this your Tweet will show up in the feeds of all of your followers and the followers of those engaged in the conversation. If you don’t do this, your tweet will only show up in your own stream.

Of course, it's well known that few sites generate more 'conversation' than Twitter. Throw in existing features like 'expanded tweets' that can reveal a full blog post, embedded images and videos, and tweets are a great platform to tempt people with holiday ideas – after all, a picture tells a thousand words and it's almost impossible to sell a holiday today without pictures. That’s something that Claire Bilby, Disney’s SVP of marketing, who will be speaking about next week in Berlin pointed out in a recent interview with EyeforTravel. Her top piece of advice for content marketers: “To think big with pictures and keep text short and to the point.”

A compelling case

Twitter focuses on delivering real-time information and people rely on Twitter to discover “what’s happening right now, including the latest in special offers, deals and promotions”. So going back to the potential for the ‘magic button’, it’s clear that the platform becomes even more compelling for travel marketers.

After all, if Twitter is the best social media platform to entice people to visit a tropical island paradise or splash out on a luxury spa treatment at a five start resort, why not make it easier for them to do so by booking it quickly? What Twitter is doing is looking to reduce complexity in the buying process by tempting people to act on impulse. This could help to prevent consumers losing interest during a long and laborious buying process that involves going to another site – they simply 'click' and buy.

If doubts persist over Twitter's usefulness as a sales tool, there's further compelling evidence from those who're already facilitating Twitter payments. Dutch airline KLM introduced Twitter and Facebook payments earlier this year, enabling consumers to book or rebook a flight, make a seat reservation, or to arrange extra baggage, directly through these channels.

KLM said it rolled out the feature due to customer demand. It doesn't use Twitter's magic button yet (it sends consumers a link that redirects to a payment processing page to facilitate the transaction) though it will surely do so when the feature becomes widely available.

Twitter has 270 million active users on a global basis, with a billion tweets made every two days.

There's a more obvious reason to take advantage of Twitter's magic button too. The old adage that ‘location is everything’ remains true, most especially in the travel industry. So adding your selling capacity to one of the world's most high-trafficked sites really is a no-brainer. As Flores points out, today Twitter has 270 million active users on a global basis, and the firm is seeing a billion tweets made every two days.

Of course, not every product will suit the magic button, but what's important to recognise is the need to reduce friction in the purchase process. In the future, consumers will demand transactions to be as seamless as possible – and as a marketer, you'll need to consider this at all stages of the buying process.

The bottom line: social media is an essential tool to promote your brand, and anything that helps to smooth the sales process demands attention. Twitter's magic button is just such a thing.

Do you think Twitter’s magic button will be a goldmine for the travel industry? Tell us your thoughts in the comments box below.

Mike Wheatley is a freelancer who loves to talk about Big Data, the Internet of Things, hacktivists and hacking, and to have a dig at Google whenever the opportunity arises

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