Who says Facebook apps are useless? Hippopost has launched a new Facebook application that allows users to send their friends customized postcards free of charge. For now the service is limited to recipients in the United States and Canada, though we can expect the range to expand if Hippopost catches on.
To create a card, users select an image from one of their Facebook photo albums, which will be printed on the card’s glossy side. Then they can enter a custom message for the reverse side, along with the recipient’s address information. Cards are sent from “a globally distributed print network” to ensure speedy delivery, though the site doesn’t appear to make any guarantees on timing (reviews on Facebook indicate that most people get their cards within a week). Users not on Facebook can find similar functionality on the company’s site here.
Hippopost seems like a great service that could really catch on, especially for travelers who would rather forgo generic shop-corner postcards in favor of something a little more personal (and cheaper). But postcards aren’t cheap – postage in the US for postcards is 27 cents a pop, plus printing and handling costs.
Hippopost pays for the cards (and the postage) by including an ad at the bottom of each card. After generating a card, users are presented with a short list of ads and asked to select the one that will appeal most to the card’s recipients. This helps make the advertising more targeted and should allow Hippopost to charge more from their advertisers, but is one ad per card really going to be enough to sustain the company?
Thanks to Carlton Northern for the tip.