Facebook Testing Social Commerce Feature "Buy With Friends"
Facebook is testing a new feature called Buy With Friends to give users social incentives to increase their purchases of virtual goods from games on its platform, said Deb Liu, Facebook commerce product marketing manager, at the Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco today.
The program will encourage users to purchase virtual goods that their friends have already bought.
Speaking to an audience of application developers who are concerned about Facebook’s move to require developers to use its Facebook Credits virtual currency system, Liu mentioned Buy With Friends as an example of a program Facebook is providing that will help developers make more money.
Liu said Buy With Friends gives developers tools to help users share their in-game purchases. In testing so far, she said “more than 50 percent of users elected to share a purchase.” As an example, after a friend has made and shared a purchase, a player might see a message that says, “Your friend has unlocked this deal for you–get 40 percent off this special monster food,” Liu said.
I’ve argued in the past that much of what we call “social commerce” isn’t very social yet, but this seems like an example of a product that actually deserves that label.
Facebook is also offering incentives, including promotion and premium ad targeting, to developers who use Facebook Credits as their in-game currency.
Facebook Credits are used by some 150 developers, but many of them elect to also use their own branded currency so as not to be locked into the Facebook system. This introduces a silly amount of complexity, with users often having to convert their real-world money into Facebook Credits into in-game currency, all at different exchange rates.
Liu also said that Facebook is testing a feature that improves users’ ability to purchase additional credits without leaving the game environment.
Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my ethics statement.