By Amy-Mae Elliott 2010-05-25 12:00:30 UTC
Sometimes flinging a virtual cupcake at a Facebook friend just isn't enough. As you may know, Facebook has offered the option of purchasing real gifts since last summer.
A big pro here is that you don't need to know the person's address to send them a physical gift. And like the Twitter gifting services we recently rounded up, the service makes it easy to integrate birthday, anniversary, and holiday shopping right into your favorite social network.
Take a look at our quick how-to guide below, and if Facebook's in-house offering doesn't quite do it for you, check out the three alternatives we've also detailed.
Buy Facebook Credits
First things first: You need to get yourself some legal Facebook currency in the form of "Facebook credits ." You can purchase this virtual currency by going to the "Payments" tab in "My Account."
Options to pay include Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover or JCB credit cards, PayPal or via cell phone. At the moment, one credit equals 10 cents, so you can buy 50 for $5, 100 for $10 and 200 for $20.
Head to the Gift Shop
Once your virtual wallet is full of money, head over to the Facebook store where you are presented with the options of "Music and MP3s," "Virtual Gifts," "Charity," "E-Cards," "Sports," and of course, "Real Gifts."
Enter the name of the person you want to send the gift to and you can then choose from toys, flowers, candy, baked goodies from Mrs. Fields, various items of jewelery, some smaller consumer electronic items, Fandango movie tickets, and our favorite — all sorts of geeky products from ThinkGeek.
A nice touch is the ability to choose the delivery date. If you're super organized and know your Facebook friend has a birthday coming up in the next few weeks, you can get the gifting sorted ahead of time.
If you do know the address of the person you want the item sent to, you can add it. But the system works on the basis of the giftee confirming a delivery address once they get the wall notification (with a message
personalized from you) that you want to post them a present.
And that's it folks. And by the way, if the person refuses your gift for any reason, then the order will be canceled and Facebook will refund your credits — but not your feelings.
3 Alternative Services
This Boston-based startup offers a limited service at the moment, but is certainly one to watch if they manage to sign up more partners. The premise is quite simple: You post a gift on your friend's wall via the Facebook app. Your friend hits a link to get a DashCode and then goes to the local store/venue to redeem it for the item.
At the moment, some elements of the service are limited to the Boston area, such as SWEET cupcakes, a beer voucher for Tommy Doyle's Bar, and Finale Desserts. But Fandango movie tickets and the $10 global giving donation are open to all users. Expansion into other local areas is planned this summer, so be sure to bookmark this app.
Friendgiftr has had no trouble signing up partners. Its social gift card service currently works with around 150 companies, many of which are major names. You can buy a gift card from any of the stores and present it to a friend on Facebook. Your friend can then either shop online with a card code, request a hard copy version to be mailed to them, or — and this bit is cunning — swap the card for one from another retailer.
So if you send someone a Lands' End gift card, but they're really more of an L.L. Bean kinda guy, they can do a switcheroo without you ever knowing.
ParcelGenie is a fantastic resource for small, affordable and fun gifts, such as candy, buttons, key rings and the like. Via the Facebook app, you can chose a gift, select a friend to send it to, and personalize a message that will be posted on their Facebook wall, after which they need to let ParcelGenie know where to mail the item. The app cleverly displays Facebook friends' upcoming birthdays, so you may end up sending more than you expected to.