Social Media Holiday Gifting Goes Virtual With Facebook Gift Cards

With the online gift card industry reaching all time highs, according to a report released by Javelin Strategy & Research, gift card sales will rise from $1.6 billion in 2009 to $5.8 billion in 2014. With that kind of growth is it any wonder that Mark Zuckerberg wants a piece of that action for his social network Facebook?

Sears, Kmart, Coldstone Creamery and Dots are jumping on the Facebook Gift Card bandwagon in a big way with a program called eGift Social. Using this promotional option, Facebook users can pick out any gift from any of these stores, select the Facebook friends you want to send it to and then deliver your gifts virtually via Facebook and/or email.

One of the reasons, I think this program will spread virally this holiday season is due to the shear numbers of Facebook members that exist today. With the user base scaling past 500 million, sending real gifts in real-time breaks down the barriers of brick-and-mortar shopping and allows users to gift folks they may only know online - and may never have sent a gift to otherwise!

Starbucks Card Facebook application is another example of a retailer taking the Facebook route to broaden their reach over the holiday season. Available in the US and Canada, Facebook users can purchase gift cards for their Facebook friends in amounts between $5 and $500.

“It’s great to bring another customer-inspired idea to life that enhances the customer experience in our coffee houses and within our digital communities. The new ‘Give a Gift’ feature on the Starbucks Card App provides a quick, fun gifting solution for our customers who want to surprise a friend on any occasion,” says Chris Bruzzo, Starbucks’s vice president for brand, content and online.

Gifting via Amazon just got a little easier as well. The e-commerce giant added a feature that allows users to purchase gift cards for their Facebook friends and have them delivered directly to their Facebook wall. Amazon's gift card creator allows users to customize their Facebook option, in addition to the traditional alternatives of snail mail, print or email.

Based on the recent flack Amazon just received this week regarding the selling of contentious book titles (ill-timed for the holiday season, I might add), they will need options such as Facebook to counteract any loss they may incur in sales as a result. For more on this topic, see my previous post, "Social Media Outraged By Amazon's Objectionable Titles."

To encourage early usage of this feature, Amazon is awarding $5 gift cards to the first 10,000 customers that give an MP3-themed gift card to five of their friends.

So with the holiday season fast approaching, I think Santa will be providing Zuckerberg et al with some very handsome holiday bonuses in the form of increased revenue sales.  You can get the facebook gift cards here.

For more holiday gift buying options, also check out my previous post, "A Cheap Social Media Shopping Network (Just In Time) For The Holidays!" and "Social Media Shopping Deals For Facebook's 500+ Million Potential Buyers."

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