It’s a deal
Facebook is rolling out Places Deals, which allows US users to check-in to shops to get real ‘deals' like discounts and freebies, while local shops can attract new customers based on their location.
Facebook updated its apps to included Facebook's new Groups functionality plus rolled out Places to Android users in the UK. However, perhaps more importantly, in what could become a game-changer in the mobile/retail sector, the networking giant has also introduced financial shopping incentives to its Places service.
By ‘checking-in' to locations with Places, Facebook said US users could get ‘deals' from free clothing from Gap and discounts at H&M to charitable donations at MacDonald's by using its Deals function on their mobiles.
According to Henri Mossinac, Facebook's head of mobile, Facebook now has 200m active mobile users who are ‘more engaged' with the site than just-desktop users, The Daily Telegraph reported.
He reportedly said that Gap will offer the first 20,000 customers to check-in a free pair of jeans then late comers 40 percent off, while MacDonald's will give $1 to its foundation for each customer that checks in using the new service.
In a video, the network also said: "Facebook Deals is a new way for businesses to generate awareness and build loyalty with our customers. Deals connect businesses with people and now that's happening on Facebook for free."
If businesses do not have to pay for publicity, which Facebook reckons will be spread by word-of-mouth via friends checking into shops with promotions and appearing on each others walls, it would appear the financial incentives should bolster Facebook's new Places function, which has come under fire by privacy protestors.
The new service may also be ringing alarm bells for rival location-based networking services such as Foursquare, which allows its users to earn accolades, badges and most importantly incentives such as a free drink when they check-in to a certain bar, for example.
Experts have said while people have started using Places to check-in to locations, the introduction of Deals should attract more repeat-users if there is an incentive to keep updating their location. As Facebook Places has many more users than smaller services such as Foursquare, which is believed to have around 5m users, the retail incentives with big businesses and local shops could have much more impact.
Facebook said: "Businesses can capture people's attention by offering a Facebook deal. We thought it would be really useful if people could find out not just what businesses were nearby but what businesses had a special deal for them."
Facebook also believes the deals are easy for companies to create, while Deals come in different flavours: an individual offer, loyalty deal to reward repeat customers, deal when a user checks-in with friends or a charity deal where money is donated to a cause.
While the service is currently only available in the US, Facebook has said Deals will come to the UK ‘shortly' and if places is anything to go by, Brits could be bagging Deals in around 6 weeks time.