The world of selling and getting paid is rapidly evolving — and I mean rapidly. It’s not some pie-in-the-sky future vision. It is possible — today — for small businesses to sell and receive payments via social media. New services are making that possible.
Chirpify, the platform that allows users to buy and sell directly from their Twitter stream, has now launched a version for Instagram. This means that social media users can now bypass the process of visiting virtual storefronts, adding items to their cart, and filling out credit card forms by making in-stream purchases on the Facebook owned photo service. And voila — small businesses sell products via Instagram.
Here’s how it works. Users can search Instagram for items tagged #instasale, then enter “buy” in the comments and an instant transaction will take place via PayPal. Businesses that want to sell items on Instagram need to first sign up for Chirpify’s service and connect it with their PayPal account and Instagram.
Small businesses can create listings from their Chirpify dashboard and then post them to Instagram. Or they can post directly to the Instagram app and then Chirpify will automatically create a listing. Oh, and what about record keeping? Transaction records are important for small businesses. No worries – Chirpify offers detailed receipts to both sellers and buyers. (And of course, you always have your PayPal transaction data.)
This expansion into Instagram commerce may not be the last for Chirpify. With more and more emphasis being placed on social media for online retailers each day, and hundreds of millions of the public using social media, it makes sense for retailers to embrace services that cut out the middle step of linking to a traditional online storefront. The easier you make it for people to buy from you, without jumping through hoops, the more likely they are to buy.
In addition, since Instagram is a photo-based service rather than text based like Twitter, it can be easier for companies to show off their products. With Twitter, customers have to click links or expand tweets to see photos of the product for sale. With Instagram, the product is already shown right there in front of potential customers. As SiliconFlorist.com writes:
“A picture is worth a thousand words, but an Instagram photo is worth a thousand bucks.”
Another advantage of Chirpify: businesses can start to gain valuable social data about real customers. To date, social media data has mostly been separate from transactional eCommerce data — or you have to go to special lengths to try to marry up the two. With Chirpify, the data is right there.
Setting up a Basic seller account with Chirpify is free. However, your business will be charged 5% per transaction anytime you get paid. Buyers get charged nothing.
There is also an enterprise version that includes advanced features like coupon codes and promotions, giveaways, branded storefronts, advanced reporting, umbrella accounts and more. You have to request a quote for the Enterprise version. We encourage Chirpify to develop a more transparent pricing model in the future for the Enterprise version.
Chirpify can also be used by nonprofits and similar organizations to fund-raise or collect donations, or by individuals to send money to one another.
Chirpify, a graduate of business accelerator Upstart Labs, first launched its Twitter service in early 2012 under the leadership of CEO Chris Teso. Chirpify uses the APIs of Twitter and Instagram (owned by Facebook) for its service, but isn’t officially endorsed by either site.