What’s The Deal with Facebook Deals?

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Yesterday, Facebook announced the launch of Deals. So what is this and why does it matter?

Facebook Deals is focused on mobile and location based social media. You will recall a while back when Facebook announced it’s Places feature – now Deals layers on the ability for Places users to see what kinds of offers are around them as they check in on their mobile device. So for example – on your next trip downtown, you check in at a Starbucks and can see that there is a deal nearby you right now – perhaps a sale on team jerseys at the team store. In you go, and pick a couple jerseys up for holiday gifts.

The value is clear – but consider that a mere 1% of mobile users use any kind of check-in technology right now. So, what’s the big deal?

  1. Potential – Facebook has over 200 million active mobile users right now. Even 1% of that number is significant and it will likely grow.
  2. Risk – There is an apprehension for a lot of users surrounding the security/privacy issue of check-ins. Will it be widely adopted just as Tweets and Facebook status updates were? Time will tell…
  3. Behaviour – In a previous post, I shared the fact that mobile internet use will outpace desktop use by 2015. The mobile battle is underway, and the race to “own” the location services/market is on.

Current location players such as Foursquare, representing a respectable 7M+ users, offer more of a game element with badges and mayorships in addition to the feature of deals and special offers. It remains to be seen how they will respond to Facebook Deals (apparently, new features will arrive at years’ end/Q1 2011).

Lastly, what should you do about this now? My whole position on location has been a wait and see policy. In the last few months, I’ve been a heavy Foursquare user as the announcement of Places and the growth of the Foursquare platform merritted attention. I cautioned sports marketers to include location opportunities in promotions and social projects, but not to focus on them – and for good reason. This is a constantly evolving space (BTW – if your team still has a myspace page, you can take it down now), and investing too much time, energy and (hopefully) sponsor activation dollars may not add up.

The take away – claim your venue or location properties now – here’s how. Keep watching this space and your physical neighbors for what happens and evolves here. This matters.

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