Image courtesy of Chris Messina / flickr.com
The latest craze in e-commerce and social networks is social gifting, a platform that allows people to give gifts via social networks, texting or email. With social gifting, people are able to send presents to their friends without the hassle of running to the post office. These presents are usually gift cards, but can also be actual products and goods.
Social gifting allows you to send a present the minute you are notified by Facebook or other social network notification of a friend’s birthday or special occasion. You are also able to send gifts to distant locations in mere minutes, and without having to find your address book. Some social gifting services allow you to pool your money with other friends so that the total contributions can purchase something substantial, like a laptop or an exotic vacation.
While social gifting is a fairly new venture, the industry is growing rapidly. Here are some of the more successful companies actively engaged in the social gifting trade and are changing the landscape of gifting:
Image courtesy of Chris Messina / flickr.com
One of the largest social gifting services available, Wrapp allows people to buy and send gift cards from major retailers to their friends on Facebook. An easy-to-use app on smartphones, tablets and computers, Facebook friends can also collect funds together for a larger sum. The recipient can redeem the card online or in stores. Wrapp customizes the gift card options based on your friend’s profile and demographic information.
Also powered through Facebook, friends are able to send “treats” to each other. Merchants specify items that can be gifted. Treater works like a credit card, allowing you to send small gifts instantly from the web to the recipient's smartphone. The “treats” can then be redeemed in the store or restaurant. Pay for the items you want to send to your friend and Treater will then email or text your friend a link to a one-use Visa or MasterCard payment card for the actual amount of the “treat.” The recipient then uses that payment care in store or restaurant to redeem the item you’ve treated them.
Treater focuses on smaller ticket items than Wrapp—like a burrito or a coffee, aiming for everyday (rather than special occasion) gifting.
It’s On Me
Yet another social gifting service that uses Facebook, It’s On Me allows both yourself and businesses to send gifts via this social network. Geo-targeted, this platform focuses on companies and stores local to the recipient.
A social gifting app focused on food, restaurants and photography, Plumfare converts your photos into gifts. You take a photo of something you’re eating or experiencing—like a meal at a restaurant—and send it to a friend. That photo can then be turned into a gift card for a meal at that restaurant.
Another social gifting platform focused on food and restaurants, Gratafy expands the parameters to include nightlife and bars as well. Currently focusing on the Seattle area, the company has partnered with more than 40 restaurants, bars and nightlife venues in the Seattle. Also integrated with Facebook, you can buy gift cards for these partner locations for any of your social network friends.
Boomerang began its business as a social gifting company, using Facebook as its primary database as well; however, in the last month, Boomerang has announced that it is no longer strictly a peer-to-peer social gifting service as it is moving in the direction of viral marketing as a means of redistributing direct-to-consumer gift card promotions.
The only gifting service listed here that focuses on business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer (instead of strictly peer-to-peer gifting), DropGifts operates much like Wrapp. Retailers are able to reach their consumers via sampling and gifting campaigns through their social networks.
Although social gifting will take the fun out of unique gift wrapping, and many business’ rely heavily on packaging as a powerful branding tool, only time will tell if this latest marketing buzz will last in its current permutation or take on a new form. In the meantime, utilize social gifting services so that you never miss an important event again.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer and online marketing professional from Southern California, as well as the founder of Gryffin Media. Her writing covers everything from technology and gaming, to personal health and fitness, to business and marketing.