Facebook and Twitter have become stellar venues for brands and small businesses alike to advertise their wares. However, while social-style gift-giving has seen some traction thanks to Facebook, social commerce has been slow to take flight. Chirpify launched in early 2012 to do something about this, offering an easy way for people to make purchases in-stream on Twitter. Late last year, the young startup expanded its scope to include another popular social network, the Facebook-owned Instagram, so that users could peruse items being sold on Instagram (tagged with “#instasale) and enter “buy” in the comments to facilitate an insta-transaction.
While the ability to pay for items on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook by using keywords or hashtags like “buy,” “want,” and “gimme” has some appeal — as it simplifies the in-stream social payment process across networks — the platform hasn’t yet seen the adoption one might expect. In order to lower the barriers for users, Chirpify announced today that it is now giving users the ability to accept domestic and international credit and debit cards, along with sending and accepting automated clearing house payments in-stream on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The move, in theory, intends to open up the playing field for buyers and sellers on social networks, as Chirpify has (until now) relied exclusively on PayPal to enable in-stream payments. Brands and merchants using the platform want more options when it comes to transactions, Chirpify founder and CEO Chris Teso says. The launch today aims to remove some of that friction and make direct payment processing part of that transaction process.
In moving beyond its reliance on PayPal to offer direct payment acceptance, Chirpify hopes to offer another incentive for brands and merchants: Lower fees. By removing the middle man, Chirpify users get the added benefit of not having to cough up extra dough to meet PayPal’s fees, beyond what they would typically pay as part of the implied interchange fees inherent to credit card processing.
Of course, as mentioned previously, startups that are looking to make it easier to buy and sell on Twitter especially, haven’t had much luck in the past. There’s probably no better example than Ribbon, which offered an in-stream payment platform for Twitter by allowing users to click a button within tweets to make a purchase — without leaving Twitter.com. In April, however, Ribbon confirmed that Twitter had shut them down, likely because of how the platform (incorrectly) implemented its model using Twitter Cards.
Chirpify, on the other hand, has taken a safer approach, eschewing the “button” in favor of allowing users to make purchases by way of keywords and hashtags. Brands and celebrities like Adidas, Green Day, the Portland Trailblazers (an NBA team) and Snoop Dogg have adopted the platform as a way to capitalize on their big social footprints and sell merchandise and products directly to fans. The idea being that, for now, Chirpify offers the easiest way for brands to take advantage of impulse purchasing via social media.
To that point: Starting today, the first time a consumer makes a purchase with Chirpify, they simply create an account, sign in and enter their credit card, debit card, routing info or connect their account to PayPal.
Once they’ve done that, all they have to do to make a purchase is reply to a tweet or comment on a Facebook or Instagram post with “buy,” “donate” or “gimme.” At launch, Chirpify will be accepting American Express, MasterCard, Discover and Visa, Teso says.
Since Chirpify emerged last year, some have speculated that it wouldn’t be long before Twitter would scoop up the startup and use it to help lay the foundations for its own social commerce functionality. Especially considering that Chirpify hasn’t (as of yet) been in violation of Twitter’s Terms of Service. Perhaps, by opening up its platform to support a wider range of payment types (and by lowering its fees as a result), the startup will have lowered the barriers enough to make this kind of in-stream social purchasing attractive to the mainstream — and potential acquirers.
For more, find Chirpify at home here.