It’s safe to say that the Facebook Offers announcement was overshadowed by the massive explosion that was its Instagram acquisition. Regardless, Facebook has indeed jumped back in the rewards game with its latest feature.
If you’re getting déjà vu reading this post, know that the feeling is mutual. Last April, Facebook launched Facebook Deals in San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas, Austin, Atlanta. It was supposed to be the social networking site’s answer to Groupon and Foursquare and ride the hype of deal-a-day culture – but it bombed.
“After testing Deals for four months, we’ve decided to end our Deals product in the coming weeks,” Facebook said at the time. “We think there is a lot of power in a social approach to driving people into local businesses. We’ve learned a lot from our test and we’ll continue to evaluate how to best serve local businesses.” It followed the shutdown of Facebook Places, and these foreclosures led us all to declare that Facebook had failed at location.
Of course, it was really more of a temporary setback, or at least Facebook’s hoping. The company clearly has some major plans to conquer the mobile-social platform, and location is a big part of that. They don’t call it SoLoMo for nothing (who “they” are, and why “they” decided that was an acceptable acronym is still uncertain, for the record).
So now Facebook Offers will be the site’s new attempt to corner that market. It’s a slightly more simplistic model than the previous Groupon clone model. Now, business you Like on Facebook will be able to push special deals and discounts to you. So while this latest implementation of rewards has little to do with a user’s actual location, it might eventually be spun into being linked to a check-in offers feature – something its Gowalla acquisition could potentially help flesh out.
But it sounds sort of messy from the onset: there’s no barcode reader to redeem deals, like with Groupon and similar platforms. Instead, you either have to print out the discount (send to an email address, not a Facebook message), or open it on your phone and hand that over to the merchant, which you can see in Facebook’s example at right.
If anything, it’s a retailer-focused product that’s supposed to lure local businesses to the platform, which has focused increasingly on marketing since its Open Graph was introduced. Facebook might have been so quiet about it because it’s really something new for business owners, and not exactly the most user-experience oriented application. Offers are rolling out immediately, so expect to see them in your News Feed soon.