Nina Lentini's recent story in Online Media Daily on UPS's new microsoft and Facebook application highlights the value of sending gifts as a relationship maintenance device among online social networks.
The UPSRegifter website enables visitors to upload images of gifts (regifts) and UPS will email the recipients with a link to claim the regift. The gallery of regifts feature a host of classic gifts one might not want or use. Really, the range of gifts is a perfect illustration of why gift cards are now at the top of most wish lists! If you have your own less than ideal gift to regift, upload the photo and send it on its way.
The "wrapping" and "shipping" portion of the application completes the brand experience and reinforces the UPS position.
It's fun and trendy and perfectly timed for the holidays and the current wave of virtual gifting.
There's just one problem. Regifting is the popular term for a gift strategy known as "lateral cycling." Who receives laterally cycled gifts? Gift recipients for whom the gift giver feels he or she must offer something, just to acknowledge the relationship or to reciprocate a gift receipt from said person. In other words, someone that really isn't all that important to the gift giver.
Gifts help us to build and maintain our relationships. Granted there are times that we find ourselves in situations of needing just to acknowledge someone with *something* - anything really, that is easy and inexpensive and convenient. A regift, virtual or otherwise, fits the bill. Still, if the gift recipients realize that gift is a regift - it's like a withdrawal from the relationship account instead of a deposit.
For UPS - this quirky, fun, well-timed activity might be the perfect anecdote to building online relationships. Or not.