A lot of companies, including Twitter, have been trying to figure out ways to monetize the microblogging service. But now it seems American Express may have hit upon a formula that would inject e-commerce directly into Twitter by enabling AmEx card holders to purchase select items online with nary more than a tweet.
The program is an extension of the already-running Card Sync service, which enables merchants to announce discounts and special offers using special hashtags on Twitter. Starting today, the service will now give participants a way to buy products from services like Amazon, Sony, and Urban Zen, as well as the capability to buy American Express Gift Cards.
How this works could be a lesson in how to finally get commerce into the Twitter system. After signing up for the Card Sync service and linking their Twitter account and purchasing information to Card Sync, cardholders can follow the @AmericanExpress Twitter account, which will tweet special hashtags for a number of purchasable items. Products will include a discounted Amazon Kindle Fire HD for $150 (normally $199) and the Sony Action Cam plus a waterproof headband mount for $180 (normally $210 for both items)
AmEx gift cards will be on sale today, too; Card Sync members can tweet #BuyAmexGiftCard25 to receive a $25 gift card for $15.
If you're in the Card Sync program and see an item you like, you can tweet the special hashtag, at which point the @AmexSync account will tweet back a special confirmation hashtag to you. Tweet the confirmation hashtag within 15 minutes and the purchase is made.
With all the back and forth that has to be done here for completing a transaction, there is little doubt that the presence of the items, their manufacturers, and American Express is going to heavily increase on Twitter. I'm already starting to wonder if I will have to filter said hashtags out of my primary feed, because while I want my friends and colleagues to be able to take advantage of these deals if they want, I don't necessarily want to see them.
If this works, it won't be long before other merchants and payment services (I'm looking at you, PayPal) jump in with similar programs of their own. But will the spontaneous and snarky vibe of Twitter be drowned by a flood of transaction messages? Hopefully in it's quest to monetize itself, Twitter won't let mercantilism run too rampant.