January 31, 2013 marked an important milestone in Facebook history when Facebook Card was launched to Facebook members in the United States. Suddenly, brands have a new way to marry Facebook marketing, ecommerce, and brick-and-mortar sales into one little piece of plastic.
According to the announcement of Facebook Card, Facebook members can give Facebook friends monetary gifts to shop at specific retailers (online or offline) via a plastic card that they’ll receive in the mail a few days after it is purchased. They’ll also receive a notification that the card is on its way to them at the time it is purchased.
When the card is used, a notification is sent to the cardholder letting them know that the balance has changed. They can also look up this information in the account settings of their Facebook Profile.
People who get a Facebook Card need to hang onto it though, because if another person sends them a Facebook Card gift, that money will be added to the existing card. The money associated with each retailer is tracked separately on the card, so a cardholder could have balances with several retailers at the same time on a single card.
According to AdWeek, Facebook has no plans to offer digital Facebook Cards, so the plastic is here to stay. Also, there are no current plans to link Facebook Offers with Facebook Card. In other words, retailers won’t be able to promote Offers to users with cards that have balances for their stores.
It’s probably safe to assume that such integrations will come in the future if Facebook Cards gains some traction among Facebook members. For example, if retailers had the ability to target cardholders with balances for their stores and serve ads to specific segments, they should be able to get the right offers in front of more of the right members of the one billion Facebook community and increase Facebook marketing ROI significantly. That’s just one reason why it’s so important for Facebook to find a solution that successfully marries Facebook marketing spending, ecommerce, and offline sales.
The question at this point is how Facebook members will react to physical gift cards, something that the younger demographic calls “retro” (check out the comments in this Mashable article to see for yourself). Of course, this is just Phase 1 of Facebook Card, and enhancements and changes are likely to come quickly and frequently. Again, Facebook needs this to work. Brands hope it will work. But do consumers care? Only time will tell.
What do you think about Facebook Card?
Image: Facebook Newsroom
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