Facebook Deals, a new feature from Facebook, is an application for people to find and redeem deals at nearby businesses when they check in using Facebook Places on their smartphones. A number of top brands have agreed to be the first to participate, including Macy’s, American Eagle Outfitters, Chipotle Mexican Grill, McDonald’s and JC Penney.
Launched in August, Facebook Places, similar to FourSquare and other geo-social applications, is an app that lets users share where they are with friends and find friends who are nearby. Deals takes that a step further by letting users find local deals indicated by a yellow icon after they check in. They then show the offer to the cashier who validates it.
For example, last Friday the Gap gave away blue jeans to the first 10,000 customers to claim its deal. Lines formed outside one NYC store before the store’s 8 am opening. A similar scene unfolded at other stores and the jeans were quickly snapped up, according to published reports. Latecomers were still rewarded with 40% off, an offer that helped Gap extend the promotion beyond those who got up early enough to take advantage of it. The lack of advertising, both in-store and online, was notable and an indicator of the power of Facebook, the reports said.
Chipotle, which has more than 1 million Facebook fans, is offering two entrees for the price of one. The University of California at Berkeley is letting football fans who check in form the human tunnel through which the players run. Macy’s, with 5 million fans, is offering 20% of select merchandise through Nov. 14, a push to get holiday sales underway.
“The power and influence of Facebook today is undeniable,” Martine Reardon, Macy’s executive vice president of marketing and advertising, said in a release.
Brands are also using the feature to promote their ties to charitable causes and encourage donations. Starbucks is donating $1 per guest to Conservation International, McDonald’s is giving $1 per customer to the Ronald McDonald House Charities and 24 Hour Fitness is donating $1 to Kaboom to support children’s health for everyone who checks in to its fitness clubs.
Although it is not clear how many people have signed up for Facebook Places, Facebook Deals may be just the feature some marketers (those that have a location people can check in from) have been waiting for to better understand and measure ROI and the value of Facebook fans.
“In general, it’s a good idea to for a brand to have a Facebook page because consumers are engaging there, but as a way to quantify the value of a fan, that is still very challenging,” Jennifer Mathissen, the senior vice president of digital strategy at Ryan Partnership, said. “A lot of this decision making is still being made under a certain amount of uncertainty and that makes some brands reluctant to go ahead and invest further in all the functionally that Facebook has to offer at this time.”