The next time you want to buy someone a coffee as a thank-you, consider it doing it the digitally social way – by delivering it to them via a tweet.

Starbucks Corp. and Twitter Inc. have set up a new feature called “Tweet-A-Coffee,” allowing users to tweet at each other to send each other Starbucks gift cards.

Here’s how it works – to send a gift card by tweeting at another Twitter user, both users must be on Twitter, and the sender needs to link their Twitter account and their Starbucks account together. The Starbucks account also will ask the sender to provide their credit card number.

Once that’s all set up, the sender can enter another person’s Twitter handle and fire off a message along with it, though the message can only be 140 characters long, of course, per Twitter’s character limit. Both the sender and the recipient will both get an automated tweet from the @tweetacoffee handle, notifying them the coffee has arrived.

Brian has printed out his gift card, but the recipient can also redeem it by showing it on their phone, or by adding the amount to their own Starbucks gift card or mobile app. All in all, the process is a relatively short one, especially if you already have a Starbucks account and have your credit card information linked to it.

Right now, the feature is still in open beta, so users will only be able to send cards worth about $5, and it’s limited to people located in Canada and the U.S. But it’s not difficult to imagine Starbucks will soon be expanding the program to allow for bigger amounts to be sent, as well as to send them to other locales outside North America.

What’s also interesting is that Starbucks seems to have plans to expand the digital social gifting strategy, with the coffee giant calling Tweet-a-Coffee a “key next step.” However,
Twitter and Starbucks aren’t the first to take a crack at digital gifting. In 2012, Facebook Inc. rolled out its Gifts feature, allowing users to send each other physical gifts as well as gift cards, only to shut down the service a year later.

Still, where Facebook failed, Starbucks and Twitter may do better, as they allow Twitter users to conveniently send gift cards to just about anyone through the social network, rather than just to friends on Facebook. Plus, their service only offers one relatively inexpensive product, as opposed to Facebook’s wide variety of gifts.

Check out the video explaining Tweet-a-Coffee below:

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