Back in November 2010, Facebook announced the launch of Deals, a subset of their Places offering. Places allows Facebook members to check in at particular locations including many business such as restaurants, bars, supermarkets and coffee shops via an application on their smart phones. The digital loyalty card-esque Deals now rewards customers for checking in with these business by offering discounts and/or free merchandise to loyal users that check in on a regular basis.
The scheme was recently made available to those in Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Spain and the UK (from the 31st of January, 2011).
On the day of the launch, the first 30,000 Facebook users who checked into their local Starbucks store (assuming it was one of the participating stores) were rewarded with a free filter coffee. Debenhams on the other hand gave away 1,000 Benefit mascaras and hundreds of free makeovers to those who checked into their stores on Valentines Day and car manufacturer Mazda are offering a 20% discount on certain car models for those who check into a Mazda showroom soon.
It is also possible for businesses to set up deals that involve a donation to charity every time a user checks in to a certain location, or to offer further deals to those who check in with a Facebook friend concurrently.
Although this is no doubt useful to those who can be bothered to use the Places application, I am slightly concerned that it will become an irritant for those of us who do not. As the access to such offers will be dependent on check-ins at the businesses in question, we will probably see our news feeds on the social networking website further clogged with unnecessary information like Anna Cash is at Nandos and Craig Teller is at Topman, Oxford Street. Hopefully, a Facebook news feed filter will be available to combat this.
Then there are concerns to do with privacy and security (do you want people to know exactly where you are at any given time?) but thats a whole other blog post...
From a business perspective however, Deals is an ideal marketing outlet, particularly because Facebook claims to not take a cut of any profits made by participating companies. Deals also reflects the web surfing behaviour of consumers - brands see higher traffic numbers to their Facebook pages compared to their official, separate websites. Deals can only further aid the promotional efforts of businesses.