There is a new app for Facebook called Treater that lets friends buy each other instant gifts that can be retrieved at local cafes, bars and establishments – and on the face of it, I think this is very cool. Now, some of you may well have read a blog I wrote earlier this year in which I slated Tweet-A -Beer for trying to do something very similar. However, if you look at the mechanics behind Treater and the variety of potential gifts you can buy for friends, you’ll see why I’m a bit more excited about this particular app.
The process of using Treater is fairly straightforward. Firstly, you pick who you’d like to send a treat to. Then you pick the item you want to send to them – some of the categories include Drinks on Me, Good Grub, Retail Therapy, Caffeine Fix and Sweet Treats – and pay the item’s listed price. Add a personal message if you want, then send. The recipient will be alerted to your kindness by a public Facebook prompt, although you can also send treats to non-Facebook users via phone number or mobile email. The lucky friend can claim the gift by showing the cashier the “Treat Card” sent to their smartphone. The “Treat Card” includes a single-use credit or debit card number (enabled by Visa or MasterCard) which can be typed in by merchants as with any other card payment.
So here’s why I like this idea. In my mind, the fundamental flaw with Tweet-A-Beer was the fact that you just sent a Twitter friend $5 directly to their PayPal account. They’d still have to pay for the beer once they were at the bar. Also, there was no guarantee that they’d actually use that $5 for the beer you were hoping they’d enjoy after that long day they’d tweeted about. It was all just a bit too cumbersome for my liking. Treater on the other hand gives you the scope to do so much more for your friends. And I think ‘friends’ is the key word here.
I don’t want to have a go at Twitter here because I think it is great, but it’s probably also fair to say that you have a much closer, more personal, and integrated connection with your Facebook Friends than you do with Twitter followers – at least in my experience. I’ve got people who I’d call ‘close’ friends dotted all around the country and even the globe, so the chances of being able to see them on their birthdays or at every social event they organise are very slim. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to do something nice for them every now and then.
Realistically, I’d never ask a friend for their PayPal or bank details just to transfer £5/£10/£20 to them on their birthday – to me it seems like somewhat of a hollow gesture if you actually put a monetary value on a friendship. But I would however buy them a couple of pints, a birthday meal or something specific to their interests through an app such as Treater if I weren’t able to do it in person.
So was I a bit quick to dismiss Tweet-A-Beer back in March? Perhaps, but while I could appreciate the basis of the idea, the execution didn’t quite cut it for me – and maybe that’s because it was rushed out in time for SXSW. But Treater on the other hand appears to have some serious legs. The only thing I want to know now, is when they’ll start incorporating UK treats. As for the concept and the mechanism? I’m sold.