Jack Dorsey’s surprise announcement on Monday (November 29) that he will step down as CEO of Twitter opens the door to a potential new chapter of innovation and growth under the new chief executive and former CTO Parag Agrawal – one that may well be one sees greater focus on the subject of social commerce.
Related: CTO Parag Agrawal takes on new leadership role on Twitter
In contrast to other social media companies that have invited brands and buyers to a meeting on their platforms faster, Twitter has only recently started to invest more heavily in commerce functionalities and has launched new business profiles in the last few months, so that retailers and other companies can differentiate themselves and list opening times of the operation alongside a website. However, Dorsey told analysts last month that the company intends to speed up its offerings, noting that Twitter has not served small businesses well “in terms of the products or the advertising opportunities.”
“Retail is an area where we want to start small and big,” said the former CEO.
Even if “starting small” may sound like a good idea, Metas Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp as well as Snapchat, Pinterest and TikTok stay miles ahead in the development of their commerce functionalities.
Earlier this month, for example, Meta added shopping functions to Facebook groups and introduced a number of tools that group administrators can use to set up shops and give members product recommendations. TikTok also has separate partnerships with Square – of which Dorsey remains CEO – and Shopify to make in-app shopping easier.
Continue reading: Commerce is getting even more social with the shopping upgrade for Facebook groups
And: Square and TikTok connect online sellers via the social media platform
The good news for Agrawal is that he doesn’t start with a blank commerce canvas. Over the weekend, Twitter ran its first live shopping test in partnership with Walmart through a live shopping stream hosted by singer Jason Derulo. Although none of the companies released metrics on how many people viewed or shopped during the event, Twitter said in a blog post that this is the next step in his broader purchasing plans.
See: Walmart Calls Livestream Shopping Shows On Twitter “Future Of Retail”
In the coming weeks, Twitter also announced that it would be introducing its new shop module, which enables profiles for shopping profiles, for more retailers and brands, as well as a new Twitter Shopping Manager, which offers a new way of involving retailers and managing product catalogs.
Twitter also has other areas of monetization that it has been working on – for example, a subscription service called Twitter Blue, which offers users additional functionality, and Super Follows, which allows users to calculate followers and provide access to additional content. But both efforts were slow and the reception was lukewarm.
Related: Twitter won’t invest in crypto for now
Twitter has also been confronted with stagnant user growth for years, so that it no longer reports monthly active user numbers in its quarterly report for a while. In 2019, when Facebook stopped sharing its monthly user numbers, the total was around 300 million, compared to 2.5 billion monthly Facebook users. In the third quarter of 2021, the number of its daily active users grew by 5 million to a total of 211 million, according to Twitter.
While this leaves plenty of room for growth, the fact that Twitter was unable to expand its user base dramatically during the pandemic, when most people were spending more of their free time online than usual, suggests that there is currently no reason to spend time with the to spend platform. And without consumers, Twitter will likely have a hard time convincing brands to allocate resources to sell on its website, especially with competing social media commerce businesses already well established.