Need to buy a gift for your daughter’s soccer coach, end of the school year gift for the teacher, or birthday present for a friend or colleague, but you’re not certain of what to get them? Gift cards are always an attractive option. And wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to get others – soccer moms or parents of your child’s classmates, for example – to chip-in as well? Not only that, what if the activity could occur within Facebook, since that is where everyone is connected?

Target, through its “Give with Friends” app has harnessed the power of Facebook to make such a buying experience not only possible, but easy.

How Give with Friends Works

The application is dead simple to use: customers choose an eGiftCard design, select the recipient, then invite friends to contribute. Target sends the gift card to the recipient, which can be used either in-store or online. The system uses Facebook’s built-in friend lists and messages to coordinate a unique, social purchasing flow – and then processes multiple contributions for a single transaction.

This creates an inherently social buying experience, but has a real-world payoff in the form of foot traffic into Target stores, or online shoppers to its e-commerce site. As a result, gift recipients benefit from their Facebook Friends’ collective activity and the retailer benefits from additional visibility, redemption and ease of delivery.

“Group gifting is a good example of an inherently social buying experience,” says Kevin Tate, CMO, ShopIgniter, the platform provider for the GWF app. “We have learned a lot from our customers about what works best in social commerce, one of them being: customers in a social environment expect and respond to engaging, authentic and effective experiences, such as the ability to simplify the gift-giving experience.”

Lessons Learned from Experience

The past year has seen a significant shift in the way consumers discover, buy and share products online. Research shows that today’s customers are highly savvy when it comes to engaging with brands, particularly on Facebook.

In a recent study published jointly by the CMO Council and Lithium, 67% of consumers “like” a brand on Facebook because they want rewards and deals, and 79% use social media to take advantage of special offers and discounts. Social customers expect products and promotions from the brands they engage with.

However, this opportunity also presents a challenge for brands and retailers, who have been historically focused on conversation and content through social channels. Now, they are looking for more commerce-centric programs designed with products and promotion in mind.

Exclusivity – creating shopping experiences that can happen nowhere else – is what works with Facebook, particularly when it is prompted by friend-to-friend sharing. The group gifting capability provided by Target’s Give with Friends app certainly supports that premise.

Target "Give with Friends" Facebook app

Target customers select eGiftcards that can be used in-store or online

Customers enter recipient's information

Gift card purchases select friends with message inviting them to contribute