American Express has announced a partnership with Twitter, giving customers the ability to sync “eligible cards” with the social network. Tweeting special product hashtags (i.e., #uselessjunk) will purchase a product via that synced card. American Express will then send a purchase-confirmation Tweet, and the usual shipping-and-handling of the product will commence. Products on offer for hashtag purchase include the Kindle Fire HD, an Xbox controller, a $25 American Express gift card, and a Sony Action Cam with Waterproof Headband Mount. (Sounds like you could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that.) Research has shown that people tend to spend more money when using credit cards as opposed to cash. It’s also quite possible that a streamlined online purchase mechanism—think any number of e-commerce Websites’ “Buy Now” buttons—could compel potential customers to buy more often and in larger amounts. In light of that, American Express negotiating this sort of partnership with Twitter makes perfect sense, as there’s the likelihood that making a purchase as simple as typing a hashtag will help jog sales of the products in question. For Twitter, the partnership also holds significant advantages. If this initial foray succeeds, it could potentially evolve into a workable e-commerce model, and thus a separate stream of revenue for the social network aside from advertising. Twitter’s certainly focused on building out its features. In addition to launching Vine, an iOS app for 6-second videos, it also rolled out a new photo service, complete with Instagram-style filters and editing tools. That makes the social network a whole lot more than a platform for posting 140-character Tweets, and more of a full-on competitor to Facebook and Google+. More features also help Twitter fend off competition from up-and-coming social networks. “While Facebook and Twitter continue to be among the most popular social networks,” read a report from Nielsen and NM Incite in December, “Pinterest emerged as one of the breakout stars in social media for 2012, boasting the largest year-over-year increase in both unique audience and time spent of any social network.” Even as Twitter, WordPress, Pinterest and other social networks enjoyed double-digit growth in the U.S. over the past year, Facebook has seen its unique visitors decline by 4 percent among PC users. If Twitter can introduce features that transform it into more of an e-commerce platform, that could give it the cashflow necessary to compete more heartily in that crowded landscape.   Image: American Express