Facebook Deals Offers Scale as Selling Point

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mobiledeals_small.jpgADOTAS – So along with the Android version of location-based service Places, Facebook has officially rolled out its Deals offering through the location-based Places service, something tech writers were all a-twitter about last week. (Am I allowed to write “a-twitter” regarding Facebook? It sounds like crossing the streams…). I can’t say I’m surprised FB installed a check-in discount program for retailers — I’m more surprised the kids didn’t have it going when Places launched a few months ago, especially considering that rival mobile social networks Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt have been offering such programs for a long while.

Launch partners include some big names: Starbucks (duh!), H&M, Gap, JCPenney, Chitpotle, etc. Interestingly Lululemon is giving visitors who check in passes to a local yoga studio… Yeah, these are the big boys, but Facebook has a self-service platform that makes setting up deals a breeze for local merchants. AllFacebook has a handy-dandy guide to setting up campaigns.

Although the smaller businesses can take advantage the service, Michael Lazerow, CEO and founder of Buddy Media (which has been in funding heaven lately), says the main selling point for advertisers, especially on a global basis, is Facebook’s massive scale:

“Facebook Deals is a huge development for retailers, as they will finally have perhaps the most effective means of driving people to store locations and to take other actions. While businesses have been able to use other geo-location services to incentivize customers to some extent, Facebook Deals allows global brands to do so at massive scale. By bridging the gap between the social media realm with physical retail locations, Facebook Deals will allow brands to create deeper relationships with their customers.”

But more important, Facebook Deals should boosts Places’ unimpressive stats — FB’s received a good deal of media mockery for its initial low check-in numbers and inability to truly drive retail traffic. In fact, it seemed like rival Foursquare got more of a boost from Places’ arrival.

Then again, according to the Pew Research Center, only 4% of Americans use location-based services — and only 1% use them daily. It’s a fad that’s gotten a lot of media attention (can you name an event Foursquare cofounder Dennis Crowley is NOT speaking at in the near future?) but hasn’t quite been picked up by the masses.

Facebook Deals has the potential to excite the masses worldwide simply because its scale is untouchable. While I’ve personally been pretty apathetic to mobile social networks so far, I am going to check into H&M ASAP for a 20% discount — I’m a frugal hipster whose skinny jean supply is running thin.

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