Chirpify lets you buy stuff on Instagram

Social media commerce service Chirpify moves its Twitter-based sales model to Instagram and snags a few celebs and brands in the process.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read
Chirpify, a startup that lets consumers purchase items by simply typing the word "buy" on Twitter, is heading to the photo-happy Instagram with one hot visual -- tattoo artist and reality star Kat Von D.

Von D joins other celebrities and brands -- like hip hop artists Meek Mill and Wale, the creators of Kony 2012 Invisible Children and Keen footwear -- signed up to start selling goods on Instagram today using Chipify's service. The Portland, Ore., startup conducts sales through social media -- taking payments, and in some cases, delivering the products through direct messaging. On Instagram, brands will be able to post a photo of the product for sale and buyers can reply to the post with the word "buy" to purchase the product.

Once you make the purchase, Chirpify will follow up with a direct message receipt and instructions on how to get your item.


The company has been on Twitter since February, and CEO Chris Teso said Instagram is a natural next step since the two networks function similarly. Chirpify has convinced some celebrities and brands that users will adapt to this new kind of commerce, but its next challenge will be convincing consumers. It's had 10,000 users sign up through Twitter as of September.

Teso admits there's still a learning curve for users because it's a new way to buy things online. If consumers type more than the trigger word ("Buy, please!") or are too enthusiastic about the purchase ("Buy!!!!!!!!!"), the transaction won't go through.

"It's definitely a challenge for us because it's a brand new way to transact, so you're kind of teaching the world," he said.

The company will have to work out the kinks to bring in consumers, but it's already sparked the interest of those looking for other ways to do retail.

Chirpify generated some buzz last month when it got Green Day to sell its latest album on Twitter using the service. It's also promoted musician Amanda Palmer's T-shirt sales and a political contributions campaign as examples of what the service can be used for.

Teso said the service has been popular among musicians and authors because digital content can be distributed easily through social media in the form of a download link sent in a private message. It currently processes the transactions through PayPal, but Teso said he wants to move away from away from the payment service because consumers don't seem to like it.

He sees Instagram as the place to expand the company's service with physical goods because many brands are already active on the social media site. He plans to expand to other social media sites like Tumblr and Pinterest.