Despite all the buzz around social media over the past several years, the concept of "real" social commerce — when consumers can actually buy merchandise directly from whichever social network they're visiting and wherever they happen to be — has eluded the industry. A year ago, for example, investors hailed Facebook commerce, or "f-commerce," as the next big thing, speculating that it had the potential to threaten Amazon.com and PayPal's e-commerce juggernaut. After all, they reasoned, since Facebook is the most visited website in the world, persuading visitors to shop directly on the site would be easy.
It wasn't. Over the past year, retailers such as J.C. Penney, Gap and Nordstom, among others, have opened and closed Facebook stores. Why? Some retailers said their customers had no incentive to shop at their Facebook store over their website. Others decided to focus more broadly on social media, therefore they couldn't devote all their resources just to managing Facebook stores. Whatever the reasons, the concept of shopping on social networks has quieted.
That is until this past February, when a Portland, Ore.-based company called SellSimp.ly rebranded itself to Chirpify and launched a Twitter commerce platform that allows brands and consumers to buy, sell, donate and transact through tweets without leaving Twitter. Chirpify has seen growing traction, thanks in part to a promotional campaign launched in March at SXSW called "Tweet-a-Beer," which used Chirpify's API to allow people to buy each other a pint over Twitter.
The campaign resulted in a huge boost of traffic for the company, with two new users signing up every second — activity that continued for several weeks after SXSW. Although it's slowed down a bit since, the campaign proved that direct commerce over Twitter wasn't only possible, it was so easy a tweet could do it. Chirpify announced last month that it had secured $1.3 million in series A financing from some big names in the business: Voyager Capital, angel investor Geoff Entress, BuddyTV CEO Andy Liu and HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes all contributed to this first round of financing for the company.