Yesterday, Facebook announced a bunch of upgrades to its mobile platform (200 million+ users and growing quickly), but most notably, they launched “Deals”. There are five different types of “deals” businesses can offer customers through Facebook Places.
- Individual deals for a discount,
- free merchandise or other reward;
- friend deals where you and your friends claim an offer together;
- loyalty deals for being a frequent visitor to a place; and
- charity deals where businesses pledge to donate to a cause when you check in.
Deals are free for any business with a Facebook Place Page. Customers "check-in" to your location from their mobile phones to activate a deal, and then share it with their friends. Facebook will monetize this by offering businesses the opportunity to further advertise their deals once you create them. But creating deals and having them spread organicly through the Facebook ecosystem is free, and quite plausible for organizations of all sizes.
Because of Facebook's half a billion users worldwide and more then 200 million mobile users, Facebook's Deals bring instant scale and credibility to the geo-location check-in rewards business introduced by Foursquare, Gowalla and others. Whether this new platform will hurt or help Foursquare and its several clones or even Groupon and its dozens of clones, remains to be seen. But there is no doubt that Facebook Deals will be a major force to be reckoned with.
Bottom line: Facebook Deals allows brands to create a compelling offer, and have it spread quickly through Facebook's powerful social graph via the virality of the News Feed. Facebook Deals allows you, for the first time ever, to acquire new customers quickly through social networks.