It seemed like a good idea. Facebook already reminds you when a friend is having a birthday, so why not give users the ability to send a gift with a click! It’s so intuitive, I almost did it when I saw the birthday reminder in my sidebar. (Happy Birthday, Chrissy!) Almost – but I didn’t because I started thinking about the process. How would I pay for it. How would she get the code? What if she doesn’t log-on to Facebook? Why don’t I just buy an Amazon gift certificate from Amazon and send it via email?
The Facebook route is actually easier but it feels less secure. I know, I just went on a rant about how online is more secure than offline but it’s all about perception.
Looks like I’m not alone in my reluctance because Facebook is shutting down the Gifts program in a few weeks.
The service seemed to be doomed from the start. Back in 2012, you could use the service to send physical gifts to people. That never felt like a good fit and not long after it began, that part of the service was eliminated. The second incarnation was all about the gift card – a much more natural fit. I’m online, talking to my online friends and I send them a virtual gift they can use to buy things online.
More intuitive but still not a slam dunk – obviously, since Facebook is shutting down this version as well.
These days, Facebook is spending more time on the business side trying to get brands to implement buy buttons on ads and Pages. They’re determined to make F-commerce a real thing but the public is resistant and no one can tell you why. People say it’s about data security or privacy. We’re worried that our purchases will show up in the newsfeed for all to see.
Susan just bought ultra low-rise cheekies from Victoria’s Secret!
And can you imagine the mess at Christmas time if all of your F-commerce gift purchases showed up in your feed!
Facebook assures us over and over that we’re in control of what will show up and what won’t – but does anyone actually believe that its true? Would you take a chance and buy a potentially embarrassing item using your Facebook log-in?
Setting all of that aside, Facebook can’t get past one simple problem – we don’t think of the social network as a place to shop. It’s for fun and chat and games. It’s for promos and news and discovery but Facebook isn’t Amazon and that’s a problem I doubt they can solve.