Facebook is getting into gift cards. In the wake of the company’s quarterly earnings statement, which concluded that Facebook Gifts was a minor and rather insignificant part of Facebook’s revenue generating business in 2012, Facebook has immediately followed up ironically with the announcement of the Facebook Card. Users can now purchase Facebook gift cards through the social network.
Off the bat, the gift card program supports brands including Jamba Juice, Olive Garden, Sephora, and Target, all on the same card. Facebook offers gift cards already from select retailers like Starbucks, but what makes this gift card unique is that a single card can hold multiple balances from each type of retailer. So $100 for Target, $15 for Jamba Juice, and $20 for Olive Garden is a reasonable combination of credit that someone might have on their card, for example.
To purchase the Facebook Card for a friend or family member, simply select it from the Gift Cards & Digital category. You can add a preset value of credit that you’d like to add to the card. After the purchase is completed, your friend will receive the Facebook Card in the mail. In a blog post announcing the card, Facebook makes sure to note that the cards are reusable for making purchases among these select retailers.
Just how “insignificant” is Facebook Gifts (and Promoted Posts)? This category only generated $5 million in four months for the social network, which raked in a total of $1.13 billion in revenue. The social network launched Facebook Gifts as an e-commerce opportunity for the social network to branch off and attempt to generate revenue in an alternative monetization strategy that parallels its advertising business. The launch announcement happened back in September 2012, but the program rolled out to select users at first and globally over time, so Gifts is still in its infancy.
But despite the pocket change that Gift brings in for Facebook, it’s not hard to see that Facebook’s launch of its cards is a strategic move. The social network hopes to eventually crowd out its competitors by taking a jab at Facebook connected digital gifting apps like Gyft and Wrapp. Note that these third-party apps use your Facebook data to figure out your friends or family’s birthdays, and Facebook by default recommends users to purchase gifts on birthdays – clearly, this is direct competition to Facebook’s native gifting service.
Wrapp and Gyft have a large head start on Facebook with hundreds of retailer partnerships, while Facebook Card only has four partners for now, but we’re expecting Facebook to announce additional retail partners (and quickly) in the months to come.
Users are able to check their Facebook Card balances from their phone or desktop, and availability will roll out “gradually” to folks in the U.S.
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