By Ike Brooker
After its IPO, Facebook has been faced with the daunting task of establishing additional revenue streams. Some have been interesting and innovative while some, like Facebook Gifts, have failed to gain traction. To determine why Facebook Gifts is stumbling, let's take a look at whether or not it’s a natural fit with consumer behavior and if it adds value to the platform.
A thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present.
Sure, these are gifts by definition, but:
Is it a natural action to say congratulations and send a gift immediately?
Does a good gift require more thought?
Would the recipient like to receive it in person?
Maybe I’m cranky, but if I were to announce something on Facebook and then a random gift appeared, I would assume there wasn’t much thought put into the gesture. It may make sense for surprising a relative or friend who lives far away. But recently, with a few co-workers moving to new apartments around town, I’ve been seeing the “Send a Gift” button appearing next to posts announcing good news. It may be that the algorithm just needs adjusting, but currently, this doesn't feel like a natural action to takel. It feels forced and awkward. Unless someone was far away, the natural thing to do would be to bring a housewarming gift in person. For a product whose tagline is “Real moments. Real gifts," Facebook Gifts don't feel authentic.
Recently, when I wished a co-worker a happy birthday on Facebook, the network suggested that I gift her a spa package. Might be kind of creepy to gift a spa package to someone I manage. Appropriate gifts require some thought. An automatic recommendation will only work a small percentage of the time. In other situations, it misses the mark and makes the giver seem disingenuous.
My final thought is the one that I come back to the most: When you give a gift, it’s personal and it’s special. Giving a gift on Facebook is the opposite of this. Are you giving to show off? Are you doing it to advertise? Are you doing it for a “like." If you are doing any of these things, it’s no longer a gift, but something else.
Are Facebook Gifts cool or creepy? Let me know your verdict (and why) in the comments!