Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New Facebook Deals Page Offers Promotion Locator for Users and a Guide for Admins

Facebook’s new introduction site for Deals, its location-based promotions service, helps users discover nearby Deals and teaches business owners how to offer them. The locator displays a list and Bing map of local promotions, while the instructional videos and downloadable Deals Guide for Businesses .pdf explain best practices for creating Deals campaigns.

By facilitating the business on-boarding process, and allowing users to purposefully search for promotions, the site should help Deals become a more popular way for businesses to incentivize foot traffic.

Facebook originally launched Deals with a handful of brands in November, but it was only available in the U.S. for iPhone and users. Though a powerful way for businesses to court customers, a lack of understanding amongst both business and users led relatively few to implement or use it.

In the months since, Facebook has rolled out its location service Places to Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia, added access for Android devices, and today launched Deals in Europe. Now that it has expanded the potential user base and gotten feedback from businesses who’ve tried it, Facebook is prepared for a more aggressive push.

Deals Locator starts with a quick overview video and a Facepile of friends who’ve claimed Deals. Below, visitors see Your Local Deals — a dynamic Bing map displaying nearby Deals based on a user’s IP address. Mousing over a Places icon reveals a hovercard with the business’ address, and links to directions and the current Deal on the location’s Places page.

To the right is a list the actual promotions offered, along with their associated Likes and comments. Users can use a search bar to view Deals in other cities, refreshing the map and list.

Previously, there was no aggregated list of Deals, making discovery cumbersome. Users could only see if any of the closest businesses offered Deals. This meant they’d often miss Deals that were in their city, some within a mile of them. The Deals locator will help those specifically hunting for promotions to find and claim them, exposing their network to the Deals feature as a whole. This exposure could snowball into widespread awareness, which would inspire more businesses to offer Deals.

Educating User and Business Owners

Under the How to Claim Deals tab, users can find a more detailed introduction to determining which businesses offer Deals and how to redeem them. The video tells users to look for yellow stickers on storefronts, which Facebook has mailed out to some businesses running Deals. Images walk users through the Deal redemption flow and illustrate the four types of Deals they’ll encounter: Individual, Friend, Loyalty, and Charity.

Users will also find links to the Help Center FAQ about Deals as well as a panel citing the devices and countries with access. Currently, this list is outdated, as it doesn’t mention Android devices.

The For Business Owners tab includes a “How Deals Work” video describing the value of incentivizing check-ins, and a “Creating a Deal” video tutorial for admins. The site also links to a downloadable .pdf ”Deals Guide for Businesses” hosted by The .pdf and videos outline the three core benefits of using Deals:

  • Acquire customers

  • Spread the word

  • Build customer loyalty

The guide also includes a detailed breakdown of the differences between the four Deal types, the creation flow, and best practices. Some of the tips include:

  • Offering at least a 10% to 50% discount

  • Providing clear and succinct Deal summaries and redemption instruction copy

  • Monitoring campaign progress to avoid Deal fatigue and opportunism

  • Training employees to redeem Deals

  • Ensuring sufficient supply of offered gifts and staff to administer them

  • Setting up policies for handing issues with customers

  • Working with Facebook’s account managers to set up Deals across hundreds of locations if necessary

  • Buying Facebook ads to promote Deals

By providing these best practices, Facebook can reduce the likelihood that businesses will have an unsuccessful or stressful experience with Deals. The last point is the real motive behind the otherwise free feature. As with the recently launched Sponsored Stories ad unit, businesses can pay Facebook to increase the distribution of their Deals. If Facebook can demonstrate that Deals are simple to create and generate a solid return on investment, businesses will be eager to buy ads for them.

Facebook calls Deals “A new way to connect with customers”. While other location services like Foursquare have local promotions, Deals has greater potential because it’s self-serve and free for admins, and incentivizes users to expose or even bring their friends to a business. The educational and discovery resources on will help the feature approach the tipping point to rapid growth.

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