Will Facebook Gifts Be a Social Media Surprise?

By: Nick Theriot
November 26, 2012
Atlanta, GA
Conveniently in time for the holiday season is the select rollout of Facebook’s retooled Facebook Gifts. Starting out with a small amount of offerings and selective availability, it is aiming high and may redefine electronic gift giving or “e-gifting”. If successful, gone are the days of re-gifting, wrong sizes or bad judgment when purchasing.

This online venture is a breath of second life into the Facebook Gifts concept. If you were using Facebook back in February 2007, you may remember the rather pointless first version of Facebook Gifts. For $1.00, you could purchase and personalize a virtual gift. Compared to May 2007’s launch of Facebook Marketplace (which has been praised, by CNET, as being a strong comparison to Craigslist) it is weak and lackluster.

The public reception and actual payoff (or gift) consisting of personalized pixels on a person’s profile was not enough. Essentially, Facebook thought people would spend money for something of no real value.

The new Facebook Gifts aims to be a complete change from its predecessor and usher in a paradigm shift in e-commerce.

So how does it work?

The actual process is simple. If you haven’t already seen it, a gift box will appear on a personal page status box or off to the reminder part of the sidebar. Giving is as simple as posting a comment or photo. You click the gift icon, pick a gift, and pick a card and a personalized message, then pay! Delivery consists of the sender either posting the gift onto a timeline or making it private. The recipient then handles all delivery info.

Sounds simple- almost too simple, but it gets better. The payoff will come when people realize three things about the new Gifts launch. First, the gift giving is essentially anonymous. There is no need to have shipping information on hand because the recipient fills out all shipping info. This makes the process private and convenient for all parties concerned.

Second, the user sees the gift before accepting. If he or she doesn’t like it, they can pick a more suitable gift. It looks like the era of getting a bad gift is coming to a close. If Facebook can manage to get enough traction with those who are most willing to spend, the 2012 Holiday season will be a good test to see if this pans out as a viable new form of e-commerce.

The best feature of the new Facebook Gifts allows you never to miss another important event in someone’s life. I know I’m certainly guilty of a missed birthday or engagement every now and then. I would go so far as to say it might increase the frequency of purchasing for special occasions. This is due to the ease of seeing it on Facebook and the low cost/ high pay-off of making a few clicks to send a gift. Given the tight economy, the value of not having to run to the mall and sit in traffic certainly makes Facebook Gifts an attractive solution.

The success for this venture is tied to people’s affinity for Facebook. Realizing it or not, people spend a lot of time on Facebook. Facebook is integrated into the iPhone and most other devices, so why not integrate Facebook further into our lives?

Facebook Gifts could become the new standard in gift giving and keeping up with the special moments of friends, business associates and family. People may be inclined to buy for others more often given all you have to do is make a few clicks.

The offering of gifts is plentiful for a start. To make this a success, the product line will have to be more diverse than munchies and Starbucks. Although, you can get a cool pair of Warby Parker Sunglasses, Angry Birds gear, and even custom made pastries.

Time will tell and consumer reaction will be the ultimate judge. The status quo seems to be accepting of Facebook Gifts so far, but what happens if and when it goes toe to toe with eBay or Amazon? That is most likely a long time from now— if ever. For the meantime Facebook will increase offerings and hopefully make this second go around of Gifts a real treat.