Facebook Starts Rolling Out Gift Cards for Select Brands

by Corey Eridon

Date

February 1, 2013 at 9:00 AM

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Yesterday, Facebook announced the arrival of Facebook gift cards, or what they're calling the "Facebook Card." In a nutshell, this is a gift card that a user can purchase to use at stores or stores' websites -- either for themselves or a friend. You know ... a gift card. Pretty standard stuff.

So, who is this for? Should marketers care? How do they work? Why, I'm so glad you asked. This post will answer your questions about the Facebook Card, and whether you should be incorporating it into your marketing strategy.

How Does the Facebook Card Work?

To get a gift card, select a gift for your friend from the Gift Cards & Digital category. We'll pretend we're getting a gift card for a friend to spend at Target.

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Select the amount you'd like to add to the card -- in this instance, we're choosing $50. Then you complete your purchase, just like any other online gift card, and your friend will be notified of their gift. In a few days, they'll receive a gift card in the mail (that's right, a real gift card they can hold in their hands) that looks like this:

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The card can be used in person or online at the retailer for which you purchased the gift card. The most notable part of this, though, is that one Facebook Card can store amounts for multiple retailers. So if a friend gets you a gift for $50 at Target, the same card can house $100 at Sephora, too. You can go into your Account Settings in Facebook to check your account balances for each store at any time.

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Facebook has been rolling the Facebook Card out progressively in the U.S. only, so if you don't see it quite yet, be patient -- you should very soon if you're a U.S. user.

What Marketers Should Know About the Facebook Card

The marketing applications of the Facebook Card are pretty straightforward for any marketer who has an ecommerce shop, or a brick-and-mortar store. Problem is, right now, only four companies are enrolled in the program: Sephora, Target, The Olive Garden, and Jamba Juice. That means even if you're excited about the prospect of using Facebook Cards for your own business, right now, you can't exactly do it.

I think this is because Facebook is still testing out the model, though -- in the past, all they've allowed users to purchase via gift cards were virtual goods within apps, or iTunes gift credit. Ideally, this model in which there's a reusable gift card should get all the kinks worked out of it now, before a widespread rollout to all businesses. And according to the Los Angeles Times, investors are hoping Facebook invests more in commerce in the future. "There are many products in these categories [gift card and reloadable prepaid cards] issued by Visa, MasterCard, and American Express that have more flexibility in where you can use them and where you can reload them, so Facebook is getting into a very saturated space with a limited offering at this point," shared Gil Luria, analyst at Wedbush Securities. To be prepared for it, though, I'd recommend ensuring you have the infrastructure to process payments from major credit cards if you ever hope to use this service, since it appears that these Facebook Cards are using Discover.

Do you think the new Facebook Card is going to see a lot of adoption? Do you anticipate a more widespread rollout in the near future, or do you think this experiment will be a bust?

Image credit: JD Hancock

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