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February 12, 2013 5:03 AM   Subscribe

Twitter is experimenting with online shopping: "American Express card holders who connect their card numbers to their Twitter accounts can post on Twitter to trigger a purchase of select products, including discounted American Express gift cards, Kindle Fire tablets from Amazon.com Inc. and jewelry from designer Donna Karan. The program will roll out over the next few days."

CNET report the mechanism for purchasing an item:

"Amex cardholders first sync their card with Twitter. Then, when they come across products that are eligible to purchase under the plan -- products that American Express will promote through a Twitter feed -- they simply send out a tweet that includes a special hashtag. Amex will then send them an @-reply with a confirming hashtag. Finally, the buyer has to send out a second tweet with the special hashtag within 15 minutes."

Adweek adds:

"...Once they do, Amex will process the order and send the product via free two-day shipping."

CNN have more on the first sale offer:

"The two companies announced the partnership on Monday and kicked it off with a single product offering, a $25 American Express gift card for $15. Other products will be available starting Wednesday morning."

The Atlantic wire hedge their bets on whether this will be successful or not:

"There are a lot of things about this arrangement not to like, but we'll leave it to our commenters to point them out. Suffice it to say that this strange new social shopping idea is both strange and new. It could fail fabulously, or people could be really into it. Kind of like Twitter, circa 2007."
posted by Wordshore (65 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why on earth would anyone, anywhere, ever do this.
posted by downing street memo at 5:04 AM on February 12, 2013 [47 favorites]


No reason -- but I think the Atlantic has a good point. There are plenty of things on the Internet that no one, anywhere, has any reason to do, and yet those things are done in large numbers.
posted by escabeche at 5:06 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Yes! This is wonderful!" -- nobody ever anywhere
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:07 AM on February 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Seems a bit stupid to me. I mean, what if you are in a crowded and busy shop and have to check for a tweetback from Amex then tweet again? Or is this only for online shopping? How does the payment system work? Has twitter got a secure payments server to send payment auth?

Also, data harvesting for both companies is massively improved.
posted by marienbad at 5:09 AM on February 12, 2013


Oh hey yeah I think I got an old AmEx card around here somewhere, might be underneath this bunch of broken Hypercolor t-shirts, mullet haircuts, AOL signup discs, and festering dog shit.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 5:09 AM on February 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


I mean, escabeche, there's usually some compelling reason for what people on the internet do. The article claims that Twitter was once considered weird, which is a not-so-artful dodge; no one doubts the utility of lightweight group messaging, what people were doubting is that there'd ever be a network to make it useful.

The Twitter/Amex thing is a super-kludgy way to buy discounted stuff (and those discounts can't last forever) and annoy your friends. From the article:

And if it wasn't already clear by the first sentence of this post, it should be by now: tweeting purchases is a social media marketing manager's dream come true. Not only are you engaging with the brand one-on-one, you're telling all your friends about it publicly, inviting them to engage, too!

This is an inaccurate model of consumer preference-building, to say the least.
posted by downing street memo at 5:12 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess there is no point in buying anything unless everyone knows you've bought it?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:14 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Found it! It's one of those old transparent cards - couldn't spot it immediately as it was leaning against a bottle of Crystal Pepsi. I think this may be the first time an American Express card has ever been accepted anywhere! I'm pretty pumped to pay the massive surcharge on this hideous affront to theology!
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 5:14 AM on February 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


"There are a lot of things about this arrangement not to like,

Anyone else laughing, but with a puzzled look on their face? This sounds like disaster in the making. I'm going to "synch" my credit card with my twitter account? And I'm going to wait for them to send me tweets? And then I'm going to tweet them back when I want to buy something? Jesus. Like nothing could possibly go wrong with that idea. And tell me, why would I want to do this?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:16 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is what happens when you invent something cool and then years later decide you want to make money from it.
posted by tommasz at 5:16 AM on February 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


What could go wrong?
posted by shakespeherian at 5:16 AM on February 12, 2013


... tweeting purchases is a social media marketing manager's dream come true. Not only are you engaging with the brand one-on-one, you're telling all your friends about it publicly, inviting them to engage, too!

I just threw up inside my entire body.
posted by DU at 5:16 AM on February 12, 2013 [23 favorites]


Not sure about the concept*, privacy aspects or the wanton consumerism but it's interesting how Twitter the channel can be adapted to new uses by simply re-using basic established system properties like hashtags. Elegant how these complex behaviors can emerge from such basic systems.


* Is Twitter planning to patent this? Because if Amazon could patent that 1-click nonsense...
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:18 AM on February 12, 2013


I cannot see any way that this could go massively, publicly wrong.
posted by jeather at 5:18 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is going to turn up as a plot device in a future episode of Girls, isn't it?
posted by Wordshore at 5:20 AM on February 12, 2013


Found it! It's one of those old transparent cards - couldn't spot it immediately as it was leaning against a bottle of Crystal Pepsi. I think this may be the first time an American Express card has ever been accepted anywhere! I'm pretty pumped to pay the massive surcharge!

Are you confusing AmEx with Kriss Kross? I know it's easy to do.

This is a super dumb idea but your comparisons with 80s and 90s shit doesn't make any sense.
posted by kmz at 5:20 AM on February 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


Sounds like it has the potential to make high-end shoppers even more frivolous. It could spell disaster for those less wealthy with poor impulse control. But perhaps the internet has already done so, and this won't change much in that regard.

Still, it seems like a vehicle for thoughtless consumption, in the same way that Twitter, in many hands, is a vehicle for thoughtless prattle.

Plus it's a credit fraud nightmare just waiting for the right people to fall asleep.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:21 AM on February 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Why does this remind me of riding in a train and having someone run along side and offer oranges to you which you can buy by flipping a coin at the runner? It just has that feeling of random things being shoved in your face that can be both annoying and super easy to buy.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:23 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is a super dumb idea but your comparisons with 80s and 90s shit doesn't make any sense.

Uh, because the nineties is when the last AmEx card was extruded? Like, duh.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 5:24 AM on February 12, 2013


They should make one of their first items Handerpants. Because right there is a gift I can see the entire Interwebs purchasing, en masse, for all the world to see.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:25 AM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


For everything else, there's NOPE.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:34 AM on February 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wait... A $25 gift card for $15 dollars? I presume this has "limit: 1" on it?

If not... Time to finally get a Twitter account! :)
posted by pla at 5:35 AM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


@HomerSimpson just used AMEX to buy HUSTLER, TROJAN ECSTACY FIRE & ICE, OLD HARPER, ALWAYS DAILY LINERS, [REDACTED BY SELLER] and CVS DISPOSABLE ENEMA

@MargeSimpson Don't know what yr planning for 2night Homer, but count me out LOL
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:35 AM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Maybe if they spin it as a sharing thing for the public good -- you're "sharing" information about your purchases to help others out in making better decisions so they only buy what they need.
posted by stp123 at 5:40 AM on February 12, 2013


I think that this is a bad idea, but I also think that it's a natural extension of numerous attempts to hook up e-commerce with social media (as noted by The Card Cheat). I bought a book with a somewhat risque title on Amazon, and Amazon asked me if I'd like to post that to my Facebook account, so that, I suppose, the elderly aunt who feels the need to repost literally every picture of cute dogs, kids with cancer, and anyone in a uniform (preferably two or all three of the above at once) that she runs across can see it.

...OK, that's not necessarily a good argument against it....
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:43 AM on February 12, 2013


How is Woot doing these days anyways?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:45 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's gotten me wondering what the Mods will be tweet-purchasing using the MetaFilter AMEX card...

Uh, distracting thought. Tweet-purchasing. Hmmm. Twurchasing? Twopping? "Hon, if you love me, sure you'll Twamex me a few diamonds for our anniversary?"

I want to go back to the nineties. I don't like this Internet world any more.
posted by Wordshore at 5:49 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Neat, it's a distributed command-line interface for enabling ecommerce.

It'll be really cool if somebody ever gets around to developing a GUI for it. I hear they're doing great work at CERN these days.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:53 AM on February 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


That giggling sound you hear is the army of hackers about to target stupid people.
posted by dejah420 at 5:53 AM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Security through obscurity biomass?
posted by fullerine at 6:02 AM on February 12, 2013


I want to go back to the nineties. I don't like this Internet world any more.

*pours out an Orbitz in memory of happier days*
posted by octobersurprise at 6:14 AM on February 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Why would anyone do this? Because they get stuff for cheap, that's why. Amex has run a similar promotion with Foursquare where, if you check in at a shop, you can get around 50% off any purchases there; while you do need to link your Amex card and your Foursquare account, you still need to physically buy the thing, so the security concerns are minor.

Granted, checking in on Foursquare is not the same kind of broadcast that Twitter is, and there are definitely security issues - but I certainly didn't turn down getting £25 off some clothes last time I was out shopping.

Does it encourage excess consumption? Very possibly. But there's no question why people do this.
posted by adrianhon at 6:21 AM on February 12, 2013


This is just that stupid "pay for stuff by pressing buttons on your phone" nonsense again, isn't it? I think I remember AT&T or someone running an advertisement where a guy with no change for a vending machine tries to steal some from a fountain while some other guy just takes out his late 1990s cell phone and taps a few buttons to make a drink magically dispense.

Maybe they should just invent a system where you purchase things by repeatedly shouting the name of the item really, really, loud into a network of distributed microphones.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:22 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads." -- Jeff Hammerbacher
posted by Western Infidels at 6:25 AM on February 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


Good thing twitter is so stable and secure. I haven't gotten an error while trying to look at twitter in days.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:26 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh...and this is the same twitter that just THIS weekend had 250,000 users affected by a security breach at the microblogging service. Twitter's blog claims the unauthorized access was limited to "one live attack" which they were able to shut down moments later, but a further investigation showed that usernames, email addresses, session tokens and encrypted/salted versions of passwords for up to a quarter million users were snagged.
posted by dejah420 at 6:29 AM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm really hoping I can give my friends and family unexpected gifts by retweeting sponsored tweets to their "@" addresses. That would be kooky!
posted by xingcat at 6:45 AM on February 12, 2013


Time for me to mentally hug Dalton Caldwell again.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:49 AM on February 12, 2013


Uh, because the nineties is when the last AmEx card was extruded? Like, duh.

You know that's, like, totally not true, right?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:57 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe they should just invent a system where you purchase things by repeatedly shouting the name of the item really, really, loud into a network of distributed microphones.

Or you just look at something for longer than a few seconds and maybe your pupils dilate a little, and face recognition algorithms identify you and your checking account is automatically debited. (Of course, we'll have to stop calling it a checking account, as sooner than you'd think you'll start running into clerks who have no more seen a check than they have a silver certificate.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:57 AM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Have you ever made a stupidly expensive purchase... in 140 characters or less?

(YOU WILL.)
posted by Spatch at 7:02 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Amex cardholders first sync their card with Twitter. Then, when they come across products that are eligible to purchase under the plan -- products that American Express will promote through a Twitter feed -- they simply send out a tweet that includes a special hashtag. Amex will then send them an @-reply with a confirming hashtag. Finally, the buyer has to send out a second tweet with the special hashtag within 15 minutes."
So this is the equivalent to the rebate cards of old? No thanks. Make it automatic if it's going to happen at all.

ALso, I will unfollow anyone doing this crap faster than they can imagine.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:12 AM on February 12, 2013


Amex and Twitter are just trying to cash in on idiots who already share their cards on Twitter. Given what the user base already does without prompting or offer of discounts, this plan is sure to be a hit!
posted by filthy light thief at 7:19 AM on February 12, 2013


I for one have always wished that a twitter security breach could directly lead to my credit card being emptied.
posted by jaduncan at 7:23 AM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh please. I know someone who joined one of those facebook advertised Columbia House style shoe of the month clubs. I think you pay $39.99 and get shoes automatically every month unless you tell them not this month? Someone I'm facebook friends with will be all over tweet-shipping.
posted by artychoke at 7:34 AM on February 12, 2013


Why on earth would anyone, anywhere, ever do this.
I think this is the closest I've ever come to opening up the comments, intending to post something, and seeing that the very first comment was exactly word for word what I intended to comment.

It isn't exact, but it's very close. If you replace "anyone, anywhere" with "I", it's exact.
posted by Flunkie at 7:47 AM on February 12, 2013


Hi folks, new here, is this where I put in a bid for that UltraHiRez 197in HiDef TV with full internet download access? I don't see the "pay now" button?
posted by sammyo at 7:54 AM on February 12, 2013


Woohooo, just what I want since my Twitter account was compromised after the 250000 user hack.
posted by Joe Chip at 7:54 AM on February 12, 2013


turgid dahlia 2, I genuinely don't know what you're talking about. I use an AmEx card all the time - if you ignore paying my mortgage, probably most of my cash outflow goes through it. Maybe like once every month or three do I happen on a place that doesn't accept it. And I assure you I've used it significantly more recently than the last time I wore a Hypercolor shirt.

It's just a card like any other card.
posted by Flunkie at 7:56 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


The only reason I would ever even consider doing this is because I don't actually use Twitter and have no plans to ever use Twitter, so there are no "friends" for me to bother with the spam. And that's assuming perfect security which, yeah, no.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:03 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


After a decade and a half of impeccable credit, my wife and I took a hit when the housing bubble collapsed. Of all the cards we carried, AmEx were the only ones who decided we were a bad credit risk. I can understand the issue, but they didn't handle it well. They cancelled the card without informing us (embarrassing, given that we found this out while out at dinner!) and when I called to ask what the issue was, the rep on the phone was such an asshole (literally YELLING at me, then abruptly hanging up!) that I made the decision to never again do any business with the company. Ever. We'd had a low balance and never missed a payment, but we were "too risky" to keep around (despite the fact that our credit was, and remains, solidly in the "good" to "great" range).

And now I see they are doing things like this. Opening up your card security to a back-and-forth tweet, because clearly Twitter has bank-level security and every compromised account is only compromised long enough to tweet once. And removing all the safeguards from your credit card, trusting to the security of an account password, that can't possibly go wrong. Sure, smart move. No one will lose a dime on this one will they. No risk whatsoever. AmEx will not tolerate risk.

I hope it fails miserably, just as I hope every attempt to monetize consumer bragging fails. You can keep up with the Joneses if you like, certainly, but shouting it from the social media rooftops is in poor, poor taste.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:05 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


(YOU WILL.)

Snort. The world's only funny YouTube comment is written beneath that video: "Have you ever watched porn on the subway? You will."

Well, it made me giggle.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:25 AM on February 12, 2013


This was invented by Tom Haverford, right?
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:28 AM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


This has to be some dude in Bolivia. Discount AmEx gift cards? How is that even supposed to work, is it all the cards of denominations $0.01 to $0.87?
posted by Slackermagee at 8:31 AM on February 12, 2013


$ git diff notional-twitter-filter.pl
- if (/4sq\.com/) { unfollow(); }
+ if (/4sq\.com/ or /amex\.com/) { unfollow(); }
posted by kurumi at 8:42 AM on February 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


This particular thing seems stupid, but I do think that one day we will be routinely buying things online by other means than browser-based ecommerce, and we have to start somewhere. This way we'll be able to joke about it in write-ups about blink-code holographic purchasing in the future.

But this is pretty stupid. How many Kindles does one Twitter user need?
posted by Lyn Never at 9:06 AM on February 12, 2013


I love twitter so much, it's an amazing product, and I want them to figure out how to make money. But this isn't it.

Instead, how about stepping up their game for small business? On Facebook, if I want to target everyone within 20 miles of my ear wax candle shop (what?) in Jackson Heights, I can. On twitter I can only target users identified by their DMA (like, the Tri State Area). I really don't get what the problem is--people are constantly interacting with twitter through their phones with GPS enabled, why can't they fix it so advertisers can reach users with content that is actually useful to where they live? I certainly wouldn't mind getting random local deal type updates for places I was close to mixed into my feed. But instead I get random big brand crap like Amex. Get on your horse Tweeters!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:15 AM on February 12, 2013


I think this is a wonderful idea and I hope it becomes very popular and goes into widespread use. Also, I don't have an American Express Card or Twitter account.
posted by Cookiebastard at 10:02 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


What would Veblen tweet?
posted by ~ at 10:37 AM on February 12, 2013


I foresee some common new hash tags is this catches on in any meaningful way:
#GagGiftForTheGroom
#It'sForAFriend
#HaHa,OopsStupidTypos
#OhLikeYouDon'tDoItToo
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 10:53 AM on February 12, 2013


Gee, what's stopping me from making a fake twitter account that I'll never use just to take advantage of any of this?

Nothing? Right then. Thanks for the free $10, Amex.
posted by Talanvor at 11:09 AM on February 12, 2013


I have heard of dumber ideas in the past. We will get dumber ones in the future. Some VCs are probably seeding some team of 23 year olds right now who are going to re tool S & H Greenstamps for the World Wide Web.
posted by bukvich at 11:27 AM on February 12, 2013


Except for all the licking greenstamps are functionally no different than the Air Miles™ rewards program (Note: Not Airline Miles). There is no reason that Twitter, Facebook, Bing or any other web property couldn't hand them out with every visit or every 100th visit. They already do it for online purchases. Twitter would just need to call up Loyalty One and buy a bunch of points to hand out.
posted by Mitheral at 2:52 PM on February 12, 2013


I was going to say that the company is spectacularly out of touch with its customer base, but then I remembered that Twitter's customer base isn't the same thing as its user base.
posted by JDHarper at 5:43 PM on February 12, 2013


Swear undying loyalty to Coca-Cola and get a free six-pack for every friend who does the same!

Yeah, this is a bit out there. For some reason it sounded more reasonable when places offered discounts based on your follower count.
posted by 23 at 7:13 PM on February 12, 2013


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