On May 3rd, Facebook officially rolled out its new Groupon-like marketing platform, Facebook Offers, to all local U.S. companies. With Offers, businesses can distribute coupons or other promotions to fans directly through news their news feeds. Two things make this a potential boon for your brand: 1) Facebook isn't charging anything or taking a cut, and 2) when a Facebook user claims your Offer, his or her friends will see an ad in their news feed; the action also posts to the user's Timeline.
So not only can you keep 100% of the proceeds from an offer, but every time one of your fans purchases, you're broadcasting the offer to that person's entire following.
Talk about reach.
What's in it for Facebook? Ad revenue, of course. The social network is hoping you'll get enough free business from Offers that you'll pony up cash to purchase Facebook ads to increase your fan-base and potential coupon subscriber base. If it works, Offers could be a win-win for both the social network and your business.
Admittedly, the new Offers product is most relevant for brands trying to draw bodies into a bricks-and-mortar storefront. But for companies who fit the bill, Offers represents the perfect combination of social, mobile and local.
For example, imagine a smartphone user hanging out at a local coffee shop sipping a latte and logging into Facebook (with roughly 50% of FB users accessing the site via mobile each month, this is not too far-fetched). Browsing their newsfeed, the user notices a coupon offer from a local business they follow. Intrigued, the user clicks on the "Get Offer" button, which sends it to the primary email address associated with his or her Facebook account. To redeem, the user can either present a printed copy of the offer to the merchant, or show the offer from their mobile phone.
When a user obtains an offer, a story about it is automatically added to the user's timeline, which by default is visible to the user's friends. Users can also share offers with whomever they choose by clicking the "share offer" link beneath the story.
On paper, Facebook Offers seems like a brilliant integration of social, mobile and local, providing brands an easy way to generate more business and broaden their social reach, all in real time. We'll have to see how many businesses will actually experiment with Offers, and to what extent users will integrate the service into their daily lives.
If you decide to try out Offers, make sure your staff is fully briefed regarding all aspects of each promotion. Just remember that deriving business from a massive social media site structured to promote social sharing can be a double-edged sword for your brand. Get it right, and you'll likely broaden your online reach and enjoy an immediate uptick in sales; get it wrong, and you may do serious damage to your online reputation at a point in history when such a thing is an increasingly valuable commodity.
Is your business planning on using Facebook Offers? If not, what's holding you back?
¹ Search Engine Watch, "Facebook Offers Rolls Out to Local US Businesses"
Image Courtesy of MJA Impressions