Facebook, Twitter ready to enter $15B social commerce arena

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter's (NYSE:TWTR) recent additions of "buy buttons" to their sites are expected to boost holiday sales stemming from the two sites. While Twitter is new to the e-commerce game, Facebook has been dabbling in various programs, such as "Digital Gifts" for years.

The overall "social commerce" market holds a lot of promise. In fact, it will be worth $15 billion by 2015, according to research firm Invesp. And Tony Weisman, chief executive of marketing firm DigitasLBi, said that social shopping could hit $56 billion, if 20 percent of Americans participate.

While a recent Harris survey from DigitasLBi found that only five percent of Americans have made a purchase on a social media site, 20 percent would consider doing so. "Our study reveals tremendous untapped potential for growth in social commerce, especially among younger consumers," said DigitasLBi CEO Tony Weisman.

However, consumer concerns over "security around financial data, privacy and a seamless buying process," are currently holding back social commerce, Weisman said. The DigitasLBi survey found that 42 percent of shoppers were likely to make a purchase on social media if they knew their credit information was secure.

Still, there is a lot of promise for social commerce, studies find. Among millennials born in the 1980s or 1990s, 55 percent will click on content shared by their peers, and often use these social media recommendations to decide what to buy, according to a recent study from Share This.

"Sharing is a fairly reliable indicator of what people are going to buy," Andy Stevens, head of strategy and research for Share This, told Business Insider.

However, Facebook and Twitter will likely only garner a hefty amount of sales if they do a better job with retargeting, in which consumers see ads for products or services they have been viewing.

Social sites could boost e-commerce sales with a combination of "buy" buttons and research on users' browsing habits, Greg Sterling, an analyst at Opus Research, told Business Insider.

"Just putting a 'buy' button out there is not going to be effective," Sterling said. "The challenge is building enough context around that 'buy' button."

Even though some consumers are "alarmed" by retargeting, people respond to the ads and actually buy products, according to Sterling.

For more:
-See this Business Insider article

Related stories:
Twitter launches 'buy' button
Twitter drops more e-commerce clues
Facebook mobile ad network officially rolled out to everyone
Has social media run its course?
CMI: B2B marketers knee-deep in content but still can't gauge its performance

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