Buying Gifts on Facebook

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People post nearly everything about their lives on Facebook. Facebook has information about our schools, friends, family, musical tastes, activities, birthdays, anniversaries, births – we tell all about ourselves online.  People use Facebook to check out news, products, company links, likes, dislikes, and even use it to make their opinions known. Facebook knows all.

And, considering that users are already used to seeing advertisements on their Facebook pages, it seems to be a natural progression for Facebook to help us now buy gifts online.

Enter “Facebook Gifts” – a service that prompts users to buy gifts for their friends using the social network. The new gift service is an aggressive push to increase Facebook revenue and expand its influence on consumers purchasing behavior. It also gives the company a nice start in the $200 billion e-commerce marketplace; Facebook has already rented a warehouse and created software to track inventory and shipping.

Just as important as the new revenue stream is the new data that Facebook will collect – including addresses, credit cards, and purchasing data, all which can be used in new advertising efforts.  Facebook users see a gift-box pop-up icon for their friends on their birthdays and are offered a wide menu of items to choose along with a greeting card. It is easy to make a purchase for a wide range of items, including cupcakes, quilts, magazine subscriptions, baby clothes, and charitable gifts.

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Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Have student bring up their Facebook accounts (yes, this is one time it’s ok to do so). What are the advertisements that they see? How do they use the information that Facebook places on their pages?
  2. View the Facebook Gifts video: http://www.facebook.com/about/gifts
  3. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop a plan for promoting a product as a gift on Facebook.
  4. Discuss how companies can use the new service to increase their reach on Facebook and social media.

Source:  New York Times, 11/27/2012, other news sources

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