You may have recently seen the news that Amazon has extended its shopping cart to Twitter.
After a one-time setup, you will be able to add things to your Amazon shopping cart by replying to any Tweet containing a link, and typing the hashtag #AmazonCart. The item in the link will then be added to your Amazon shopping cart.
While this may seem to be a bit of a gimmick and not very practical to your everyday life, it actually is an important step. Twitter is layering utility for its users (who typically access their Twitter feed from a mobile device), and making it easier for people to transact based on what they see in their Twitter feed.
And while the “Watch Dogs” game shown in the example above may not be relevant to you, it’s important to note that what you see in your Twitter feed would be much more likely to be relevant--because your Twitter feed is comprised of the people, and brands, you follow.
Twitter said two years ago that it is not a media company, but instead in the media business. And this is an example of Twitter delivering information to users, in a way which improves their lives in some small way. This is where media is going. Context means everything in a world where users have more choices than ever and continuous competition for their attention.
By using the #hashtag, Twitter is building on previous Twitter-centric concepts like the campaign with Starbucks last year which allows users to “Tweet a coffee” to other users. It will be interesting to watch this play out, but it certainly does show a commitment on Twitter's part to not merely be a place where media is shared and consumed, but to extend the options to act on that information. Twitter is becoming a media company in the absolute broadest sense of the word.
As social media continues to evolve, Twitter's ability to tie a user’s Twitter handle to a billing account will become more important--in fact some may call this the cornerstone of commercial identity. In this particular case the billing account is owned by Amazon, and Twitter is the conduit back to the Amazon shopping cart.
This announcement is a lot bigger than it looks on the surface. Look for Twitter to continue ways to contextualize the experience for its users.