Will Facebook Credits become money?

Posted on the 23rd September 2011

When I mention Facebook credits I am sure that you all know what I mean. You can use them to buy stuff for Farmville or Mafia Wars on facebook. But, up until very recently, that was pretty much all that you could do with them.

How, however, More and more businesses — both large and small — are exploring how they can incorporate Facebook Credits into their overall social strategy. But they all have the same question: How?

Universal Pictures recently launched a campaign offering cult film The Big Lebowski for rent directly through the movie’s Facebook fan page. It was made available to rent on-demand for 30 Facebook Credits.

Other retailers are issuing Facebook Credits as incentives in exchange for some type of action, like social engagement, online purchases or brand loyalty. Shoebuy.com, for example, ran ads on Facebook offering 50 Facebook Credits with any purchase from their site. The GAP UK also provided Facebook Credits to customers who signed up for its email newsletter.

When you consider the size of the market that you are looking at then it stands to reason that you have to at least attempt to get into this. So, what do we need to look at?

Firstly…you need to sell digital goods – not physical ones. Facebook Credits can be used to purchase virtual goods, digital goods and Facebook Deals. They still cannot be used to directly purchase physical goods or redeem anything outside of Facebook. Now, however, there are a variety of digital goods and content available (Skype calls, music, movies, additional ammunition for game battles, etc.). There is an endless list of opportunities to monetize

Secondly – don’t forget to think Globally. Facebook Credits are an international mode of payment available in more than 47 currencies. Whenever possible, incorporate the global community in your promotional efforts. While the U.S. still makes up a large portion of the Facebook population, there is significant growth in other countries. Live concerts on Facebook, for example, have drawn participants from more than 25 countries. Recent success stories include concerts by Widespread Panic, David Gray, and even new bands like The Parlotones.

And finally – Over time, users accumulate Facebook Credits from many different brands. Think about simple ways to offer fans valuable digital content. Why not host the launch of a new music video or movie release to reward existing fans and recruit new ones? While the average Credit balance may be low today for Facebook users, expect it to grow significantly as Facebook Credits become more mainstream as the social currency of choice.

I wonder if there is an opening for a Facebook credit bank? And if so – when that ran into trouble…who would bail it out?