Amazon has launched a new service that lets customers add products to their shopping carts through a Twitter hashtag, the company announced Monday. Called #amazoncart, the hashtag will add most Amazon products into your shopping cart when you reply to a tweet that contains an Amazon product URL. While the program seems like fun, there are a variety of reasons it is unlikely to become a major way to shop online.
You’ll need to connect your Amazon account to your Twitter account, which can be done in the social settings menu. You might find your accounts are already tied; if you’ve ever shared a passage from a Kindle, for instance, your accounts are connected. All tweets are public unless your Twitter account is protected, so perhaps you shouldn’t purchase things that you don’t want all your followers to know about.
The account @myamazon will reply to your tweet fairly quickly to tell you whether the system was able to add the product to your cart. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
This isn’t the first time major companies have played around with e-commerce on Twitter. In 2013, American Express launched a program called “Pay By Tweet,” which encouraged users to pair their American Express credit card with their Twitter account by giving away $25 gift cards. Earlier this month, Amazon introduced Dash, which is a scanner and recorder designed to make it easy to add Amazon Fresh grocery products to an online cart.
It’s hard to see the benefit to the end user with Amazon’s program, though. There are no discounts offered, and tweeting a hashtag isn’t that much easier than shopping on Amazon.com.
What’s worse, searching for Amazon products on Twitter introduces you to an unseemly underbelly of bots and spam. Most Amazon links tweeted out come from bots, who do it automatically and randomly, with a lot of self promotion of self-published ebooks. It’s hard to tell whether Amazon’s affiliate linking program works with #amazoncart, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t, to cut down on spam.
Then there’s the issue of whether Twitter is the right network: I don’t see a lot of Amazon products in my timeline, partially because I’ve culled it in order to avoid seeing a lot of marketing stuff. If someone were to share an Amazon link, it’s more likely because it’s an amusing novelty (a five-pound gummy bear, for instance) than something I’d actually want to buy (a book people are talking about on Twitter).
Even Amazon’s tweet introducing the program, which scores of people have replied #amazoncart to, is a novelty product more famous for funny Amazon user reviews than for actually being a tool people use:
— Amazon (@amazon) May 5, 2014
#Amazoncart. Trend it.