That's the promise of a new partnership between American Express and Twitter. Today, the credit-card company announced a service that will allow its members to make purchases on Twitter using only #hashtags. It's part of AmEx's strategy to tap into the growing social e-commerce world—to show that social media can actually have an ROI beyond ephemeral buzz and memes. "Our merchants want the ability to better track conversations—and to see whether these conversations on Twitter are resulting in better business," says David Wolf, VP of global product and biz-dev at AmEx. "Just tweeting a hashtag literally turns that tweet into a transaction."
In order to take advantage of the service, cardholders just have to sync their AmEx card with Twitter, and tweet out the special product hashtags that AmEx will be releasing to the public. At the start, American Express is curating a short list of discounted products such as Amazon Kindle Fire HDs and Xbox 360s. (Supplies are limited.) Simply tweet the hashtag that corresponds to either of these products, and AmEx will respond with a confirmation tweet. "When you tweet back to confirm, it's all done—we ship the product to you. It's that easy," says Leslie Berland, SVP of digital partnerships at AmEx. "The beauty of this product is that I can explain it in two seconds."
"You can turn a hashtag into more than just a conversation—you can turn it into a trigger that actually can spark commerce," says Joel Lunenfeld, VP of global brand strategy at Twitter.
Call it AmEx and Twitter's version of a flash sale. By connecting social with e-commerce, the idea here is to have customers promoting brands at the same time as they're purchasing items from them—a clever trick to yield more social currency for all players involved. The partnership also further solidifies American Express as the social credit card. The company already allows its members to sync their cards with Foursquare, Facebook, and Xbox, among other platforms.
In March, AmEx revealed its partnership with Twitter to offer members savings via hashtags; now it's taking that concept one step further by enabling direct purchases via the social network.
The question now is whether customers will feel comfortable purchasing items on Twitter, especially through a hashtag.
"It's a new consumer behavior," acknowledges Wolf, "but that's why we're so focused on making it incredibly simple."
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