Eager to monetise their data (after all, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it), Facebook are on the brink of opening their ‘Gifts’ facilities in the US… with plans to gradually roll out to Europe and the rest of the world.
Facebook originally launched a smaller scale gifts feature back in February 2007 but, after several changes in the proposition, it was pulled down in 2010.
The new system appears to be much better developed and includes a much wider range of regular birthday/celebration gifts that are posted to the recipient within a few days.
Users may be prompted in a number of ways about ‘Birthdays and Live Events’ related to their friends. When a gift is purchased an email, as well as a Facebook notification, is sent to the recipient. When they click on the notification, they can then view the item and read a virtual card the purchaser has written for them.
One very positive feature provides recipients with a chance to select the colour, size or flavour that they want, or even ‘swap for a different gift’.
What’s in it for Facebook?
Not only will it provide Facebook with affiliate commissions for every gift purchased, it will also enable them to gain yet more information about users – not least their postal address, that is optional in their usual registration process. The recipient is the one who needs to enter their details and they only have two weeks in which to do it, else the whole order is cancelled. On the positive side, the sender does not need to enter any address – not can they see the recipient’s address, which provides a layer of privacy and protection.
Purchasers’ credit card details are also stored by Facebook unless they opt to ‘remove’ the data.
Merchants have the chance to connect their products, but Facebook have not disclosed the criteria they’re using for merchant selection. If interested, merchants are simply pointed towards a form.
Facebook has a distinct advantage over Amazon with this model in that it’s able to tap the ‘always on’ connection with its registered users, the timeliness of the moment, and the emotional tie people feel to their friends (well, their real friends, at least).
It’s not clear which merchants are already signed-up, but I’m imagining that Amazon would have been one of the very first.
I’m sure Facebook have done their due diligence but, let us know, would you buy a gift for a friend through Facebook?
Written by Patrick Bray, Senior Consultant