YouTube, Twitter, Amazon Double-Down on Social Commerce Amid Growth Scarcity

It seems that 2022 is shaping up as the year social selling got its act together, or at least came to the front of the store.

This, as a flurry of recent developments in digital commerce and seamless payments have not only shown the mass appeal and opportunity that lies in selling through short-form-videos but also offers the one thing that retailers are struggling to find right now — growth.

It’s a move that is both upending the established order — and menacing a few sacred cows — while also developing new pathways for the next phase of influencer-driven selling and embedded payments within the vast and highly trafficked social ecosystem.

In short, after a wild year of declining sales and earnings, hiring freezes, and other headwinds, social selling is suddenly the growth standout, and maybe even the cure-all that the industry desperately needs.  And everyone from Amazon to Google to Twitter and beyond is taking stock and action.

The latest entrant in this burgeoning battle for young hearts and minds came from YouTube this week, which revealed its “From YouTube to You” initiative which includes a series of videos, live streams, and Shorts featuring widely-followed creators who curate gift recommendations and exclusive product drops and deals.

The launch comes as American consumers are spending more time engaging on social platforms. The PYMNTS report The ConnectedEconomy™ Monthly Report: The Who’s Who Of The Digital Social Scene Edition, a survey of over 2,600 consumers estimates that 47 million consumers, roughly 18% of all U.S. adults, “now connect with friends, family, and romantic partners online as part of their daily routine.1 Back in December 2021, 39 million consumers, approximately 15% of the adult population, counted digital communication as part of their daily routine.”

Get Your Copy: The ConnectedEconomy™ Monthly Report: The Who’s Who Of The Digital Social Scene Edition

This as Meta is moving to boost Facebook and Instagram Reels engagement against TikTok in a race to replicate the latter’s streaming sales success and current social dominance.

In September, The Wall Street Journal reported that “Instagram users cumulatively are spending 17.6 million hours a day watching Reels, less than one-tenth of the 197.8 million hours TikTok users spend each day on that platform, according to a document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal that summarizes internal Meta research.”

See also: Report: Users Still Spending 10x Time on TikTok Than Instagram Reels

Never to be outdone, Amazon is also in on the action, as evidenced by it recent teaming with Snapchat to leverage “Amazon’s extensive library of assets to be easily integrated with Snap’s AR Try-On Technology. For this partnership, Amazon’s 3D Asset technology, a service that can be extended to industry partners, works with Snap’s Lenses to allow 3D assets and product information to be shared, as well as dynamically updated, providing shoppers up-to-date selection, product details, and availability,” per a Snap blog.

Can Twitter Be America’s WeChat?

See also: Amazon Fashion and Snap Launch Virtual Try-on Feature for the Masses

The wildcard in all of this is Twitter, which new owner Elon Musk sees as evolving along the lines of WeChat/WeChat Pay as he moves for better monetization of the platform.

As PYMNTS reported, “To a certain extent it’s based on Musk’s background as a part of the PayPal Mafia, partly on his comments about plans for the company — such as remaking Twitter into a super app modeled on China’s WeChat, which is a payments powerhouse — and partly because it’s the only real way he’ll be able to boost revenue as much as he’s said he plans to while knocking ad revenue down under 50%.”

On Wednesday (Nov. 9) the New York Times reported that Twitter had filed documents with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) as a first step in processing payments.

Musk is enamored of the WeChat super-app model and believes the U.S. is prime for one of its own. CNBC reported that Musk told staff “You basically live on WeChat in China because it’s so useful and so helpful to your daily life. And I think if we could achieve that, or even close to that with Twitter, it would be an immense success.”

See also: Musk’s Twitter-as-Payments-App Narrative Gains Steam


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