Facebook is about to get real and make their push into the physical wallets that they’ve always coveted. It’s not an evil plan of world domination (though it could be argued that it’s a step in that direction) but rather an innovative spin on the gift card industry that might actually have the legs to work.
Gift giving on Facebook never really took off for the social network. They’ve had some success with digital Starbucks cards, but the whole of their gifting program has been unsuccessful. Their latest addition, physical gift cards, has some interesting features that might help it to stand out and really take advantage of their reach through the convenience that this product offers.
Here are the highlights:
- Users can buy gift cards for their friends. A card will be mailed to them.
- Multiple retailers can be on one card, so one person can give a gift of $100 for Target while someone else can add $50 worth of Jamba Juice to the same card.
- The gift cards are refillable so there only needs to be one card.
- Balances can be checked via the Facebook mobile app.
Overall, this is an impressive list of features. There are two things missing. First, they need more retailers. With only four current (albeit good) choices available, it’s not quite as useful as it could be if they had a ton of options. Second, they are still hard to find. Facebook has never made it easy to give someone a gift if it isn’t their birthday. This is a big mistake. If they had a button on every profile that allowed users to give gifts to their friends, people would be much more likely to actually give them. It’s not always just about birthdays.
As the number of retailers grows and the dollars start flowing more freely through Facebook’s coffers, this could end up being the most important revenue move they’ve made in a while. It won’t be in the same league as advertising revenue, but it carries an important distinction that makes it a winner. It’s real. People will have Facebook cards. They’ll be able to show them to their friends, family, and coworkers. They’ll be using them out in the real world. This is a major step if they can make it work because it brings them closer to the end goal of real world integration.
We’ll be keeping a close eye as this develops. Would you buy someone a Facebook gift card?