Social Gifting On Facebook Trending Toward Local Experiences

As Facebook looks for ways to monetize its presence, the company rolled out Gifts earlier this year — a program that is now available to all U.S. users. But Facebook wasn't the first, and certainly won't be the last, to test the social gift market. Several other companies — such as Plumfare, Boomerang, Treater, and GiftHit — use Facebook to deliver experiences that can't be captured with gift cards.

As Facebook looks for ways to monetize its presence, the company rolled out Gifts earlier this year — a program that is now available to all U.S. users. But Facebook wasn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last, to test the social gift market. Several other companies — such as Plumfare, Boomerang, Treater, and GiftHit — use Facebook to deliver experiences that can’t be captured with gift cards.

Gifting services love utilizing Facebook not only to connect users to the people they already know and love, but to grow their businesses through open graph actions.

Major brands — Gap and Starbucks, for instance — have become quite popular through gifting apps like Gyft, Wrapp, and Facebook’s native Gifts app. Through these programs, people can purchase gift cards (or in the case of Gyft, send gift cards they already have guilt-free) to major brands and send them to Facebook friends, allowing those friends to scan the codes at stores via their phones to redeem the rewards. Facebook Gifts also offers a wide array of real-life gifts that are delivered to friends’ doors. Wrapp has tapped into Facebook for marked success, as the company explained at the AllFacebook Marketing Conference in New York.

Amazon has also recently gotten into the social gifting game.

However, it seems that social gifting through Facebook may start to trend toward local experiences, such as buying someone a cup of coffee from the shop around the corner or the chance to try a hip-hop dance class at a studio in town.

Instead of focusing on a wide array of options, many social gifting companies are finding success by going small.

Plumfare, an iOS app, offers a wide array of options, but focuses on the experiences you can’t get anywhere else. The company, founded in January, has partnerships with restaurants as large as the Michael Mina Restaurant Group and as small as Tuscan Café in Northville, Mich.

Plumfare CEO and Co-Founder Tali Rapaport talked with AllFacebook about how the world of social gifting is splitting into those who are offering gifts from big-box stores and those who offer gifts from small businesses, as well as those who want to send presents for occasions and those who just want to send a thoughtful cup of coffee or cupcake:

I think it’ll segment after Christmas. There will be a bunch of folks that try and go after really traditional holidays, like Valentine’s Day, and they’ll try to get enmeshed in all of the places where people traditionally gift today, which are mostly around life events — weddings, graduations, new jobs, and housewarming gifts — and then I think there are one or two other companies in our space that are going after places where you wouldn’t traditionally send a gift. They’re trying to create a new opportunity for gifting, in our case, by going after the long tail … Those folks are going to be less and like traditional ecommerce companies as we all explore the best way to change behavior there.

It’s that second segment — those who want to send gifts when it’s not someone’s birthday — that could grow rapidly. Already, there are several applications ready to serve this population.

GiftHit and Boomerang try to focus on experiences in certain cities. For instance, GiftHit specializes in presents that come from small businesses in Bloomington, Ind.; Madison, Wis.; New York; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Tuscon, Ariz. Boomerang offers gifts from merchants in Indianapolis; Chicago; Austin, Texas; and New York, but also has gift cards for national retailers.

GiftHit Co-Founder Arielle Goldman told AllFacebook that the company plans to branch out to the San Francisco area, as well.