Better late than never, Facebook (FB). The social networking website operator has finally begun actively promoting its new Facebook Gifts feature.
The platform had been in beta testing for weeks -- lining up merchants offering everything from a monthly jerky club to jewelry boxes -- but it just became available in December to most U.S. users.
Facebook hasn't had a problem attracting restaurants, florists, and makers of eclectic gifts to its social commerce platform. Who wouldn't want to have enhanced exposure on Facebook? And for Facebook, the selling of tangible gifts represents huge potential: By TechCrunch's calculations, between $127.5 million and $1 billion per year.
Your generosity is viral
There are now more than 140 billion connections between Facebook's billion members. Those sending or receiving Facebook Gifts can opt to share the act to their respective Facebook pals. Sure, there's bound to be the occasional glitch -- say, when your sister sends a premature engagement or baby shower present before the news is public -- but we'll cross those awkward moments when we get there.
For now, the important takeaway is that there will be bragging rights on Facebook in the form of physical gifts. Everyone knows the cynic that makes fun of folks on Facebook exchanging modest birthday greetings and other congratulatory messages: "Gee, pecking a few keystrokes -- how thoughtful!"
Well, that person now has to put up or shut up.
Facebook is slowly ingratiating itself to investors
It hasn't been an easy freshman year for Facebook. The company went public at $38 in May, but was trading for less than half of that when it bottomed out four months later.
The stock has been inching its way higher in recent weeks as Wall Street begins warming up to Facebook's heady growth and new monetization initiatives. Analysts now see Facebook growing its revenue and earnings by 29 percent and 27 percent, respectively, in 2013.
Facebook still has a long way to go before it can erase the stigma of being a busted IPO, but don't be surprised if Facebook Gifts is a major part of it. Just wait until that next friend or family member graduates from college, gets married, or is going through a rough patch.
The same cynics that argue that folks on Facebook simply try to portray themselves as they want to be seen and not as they really are will know that Facebook Gifts will be a hit. After all, everyone wants to be seen as a giving person.
Rick Aristotle Munarriz has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook and has the following options: long JAN 2014 $20.00 calls on Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Facebook.