Facebook Gifts Heats up Social Gift Giving

Social, mobile gift giving makes so much sense because it saves time and (often) money while it adds an extra dimension of thoughtfulness to dull, dry paper and plastic gift cards. Today, your smartphone lets you give mini gifts for free to social network acquaintances (Wrapp) or even give friends you know all too well super-customized gift cards for absolutely anything, anywhere (Giftly.) Facebook is in on the deal now, and its gift giving service is no small measure; experts project that Facebook Gifts could bring in 5 billion for Facebook this year alone – while Gifts is still just available exclusively to users in the US.

How does Gifts work? Very soon, you’ll start to see gift giving options pop up in your Facebook feed. There will be a “Give him/her a gift” prompt when you go to write “happy birthday” to a friend, or just when you want to post on someone’s timeline for kicks. Once you open the Gifts page, you can browse what’s for sale and select the gift you want to give – item details like sizes and colors can be left up to the recipient to decide, and you can either pay for your gift upfront, or wait for your friend to confirm that he/she received the card/notification that’s attached. Then he or she determines where the gift will be shipped and… that’s it. No advanced planning, no knowledge of where your friend even lives required.

We’re talking about Facebook-operated Amazon. In fact, Facebook Gifts is projected to rival established e-commerce giants as well as breakthrough boutique sites like Fab. Facebook mans everything about Gifts – from selecting and listing gifts, to shipping and handling, to processing payments and addressing customer service issues. A relatively select service as of now, Gifts is only going to get bigger. Lee Linden, creator of Karma, which Facebook acquired and modeled Gifts after, told venturebeat.com:

“We’re starting with the US, and we’ll evaluate in the future what makes sense. Facebook is a global company … We have employees in many countries, and we already modify our services for other countries based on their needs and tastes.”

I really can’t wait to see what exactly is in the Facebook Gifts store. If the selection isn’t super-impressive, I can totally see lots of  “Not another Facebook gift” situations happening. Right now, I’m seeing a lot of overpriced teddy bears and gourmet chocolate. But I’m extremely optimistic about the future of Facebook with Gifts and I would be telling a fat lie if I said I’m not expecting a few extra birthday presents this year – you know, because Facebook kind of killed everybody’s excuses.