Posts Tagged ‘facebook places’

Facebook launches Groupon competitor with ‘Deals’ platform

November 3rd, 2010

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a press conference from Facebook headquarters

At a press conference at its head office today, Facebook announced a new Deals platform that allows local merchants to target and offer deals to Facebook users. The new platform could prove to be big competition for social-buying giant Groupon.

The Deals platform is built around Facebook’s Places feature. It allows users to find specials around them, and it allows merchants to offer specials to drive more business, without paying Facebook a dime.

The Deals platform allows users to launch Facebook on their mobile and search for deals available around them, see what deals their friends have purchased, and see what deals are being offered by businesses they “like.”

Deals can range from everything to discounts at restaurants, to clothing stores, to coffee shops and more. Once a user finds a deal they want, they can go into the store and claim the discount.

Facebook says its Deals product is designed to solve an age-old problem of getting local businesses online. The company says local businesses have been told for years they should be online, but local business owners don’t always see the value. Facebook says its platform provides a reason to be online, as it allows merchants to turn fans and visitors into “real people, real dollars and real experiences.”

On the merchant side, Facebook says the deal set-up process is simple: Merchants visit a single page where they can specify two lines of text to describe a deal, when it expires and how many deals are offered.

Four types of deals are available: Individual deals, loyalty deals, friend deals and charity deals. Individual deals target an individual user; loyalty deals offer incentive to get users to come back often (for example, offering a free coffee if the user buys two at previous visits); friend deals to offer incentive to get users to bring in large groups (for example, offering a group of four people a discount at a restaurant); and charity deals.

Self-serve deals are coming to all companies on Facebook in the near future. For today’s launch announcement, Facebook is partnersing with The Gap, which will give away 10,000 pairs of bluejeans to people who check-in at a Gap store.

Facebook’s Deals feature is available in the United States and will be rolled out in other regions later.

By adding a social business layer to its Places product, Facebook is likely to attract businesses who currently use social buying tools such as Groupon. The big difference, however, is that deals from Facebook could be more inexpensive for retailers.

“To be clear, we don’t get paid for the deals,” said Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, at the press conference. “They’re user value and value to the businesses. If a business wants, they can also advertise on the ad system we’ve had for years. For now, the whole premise is this is something great for people who are using this system. Check in, tag three of your friends and everyone gets a free ice-cream. That’s good. That hasn’t been done before.”

Facebook offering deals without taking a cut of the margins could put a huge dent in sales from competing deal-maker Groupon.

Groupon is currently the leading deal-of-the-day site that offers group discounts on everything from spa services to restaurant deals to discounts at major retailers. Deals are offered to members by email and through social media.

Groupon, a two-year-old startup out of Chicago, is the fastest-growing company in Web history, generating more than $500 million in revenue this year, according to Forbes. Valued at $1.35 billion, Groupon has seen competitors and copy-cat sites crop up in markets all over the world in an effort to cash-in on the group-buying craze.

Unlike Facebook’s new Deals feature, however, Groupon takes a cut of all revenue generated from daily deals. So if a user buys a coupon for something via Groupon, the retailer gets a percentage and Groupon takes a percentage.

With Facebook’s Deals feature, the retailer could offer the same service without having to lose any of its margin to a partner. The merchant could also benefit by being visible to a user’s entire friend feed on Facebook, and by being able to target people who are physically close to them.

A Facebook blog post lists other potential Deals coming to the U.S. in the near future.

[Cross-posted to Future of Media & Digital Journal]

Facebook launches ‘Places’ check-in feature

August 19th, 2010
Facebook has announced a new feature that allows users to “check-in” to a venue and tell their friends where they are. The feature is available via the Facebook iPhone app and from Facebook’s mobile website. It’s currently only available to U.S. users.

Facebook’s new “Places” feature is designed to let friends share their location as well as see who else is at a venue. The service is almost exactly the same as Foursquare, the leading location-based app that made the term “check-in” mainstream.

In a post on Facebook’s official blog last night, Facebook announced the new Places feature that allows people to share their location in real-time from a mobile device.

“Ever gone to a show, only to find out afterward that your friends were there too?” Michael Eyal Sharon, Facebook’s mobile product manager, wrote in the company’s announcement. “With Places, you can discover moments when you and your friends are at the same place at the same time. You have the option to share your location by ‘checking in’ to that place and letting friends know where you are. You can easily see if any of your friends have also chosen to check in nearby.”

To use the feature, Facebook users need to download the most recent version of the iPhone application or visit The Facebook mobile site will only work for users with a smartphone that has a mobile browser that supports HTML 5 and geolocation.

Once using the application or mobile website, users click the “Check In” button to see a list of places nearby. Users click on the appropriate venue and if it’s not available, they can add it. Once checked-in, a Facebook user’s friends will be notified of the user’s whereabouts in their News Feeds.

“Places is only available in the United States right now,” Sharon wrote. “But we expect to make it available to more countries and on additional mobile platforms soon.” When a user is checked-in, he or she can tag friends that are with them and post an update to tell friends what’s going on at that venue.

The app also boasts a “People Here Now” section so a user can see his or her friends that are at the same location. Users who don’t want to be visible to others need to change their privacy settings.

“This section is visible for a limited amount of time and only to people who are checked in there,” Sharon writes. “That way you can meet other people who might share your interests. If you prefer not to appear in this section, you can control whether you show up by unchecking the ‘Include me in People Here Now after I check in’ privacy control.”

If you’re with someone who checks you in to a Place, you will receive a notification on Facebook and on your mobile. Facebook says the first time this happens, you’ll be given the choice to allow your friends to check you in to places. If you opt-in to share check-in data with third-party applications, Facebook will share that information with them as well.

Facebook’s Places feature is almost a complete copy of Foursquare. At one point, Facebook tried to buy the company but Foursquare CEO Jack Crowley turned down the offer. Foursquare is backed by $21.4 million in funding from some notable investors including Ron Conway, Kevin Rose, Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures, to name a few.

Foursquare has more than one million “check-ins” every day and Crowley said the company is nearing three million users. But with Facebook boasting a user-base of more than 500 million people, some wonder if the new Places feature will kill the growing startup.

Facebook invited Foursquare and competitor Gowalla to the launch of Places and Facebook said it’s been working on the project for nearly eight months.

That said, it seems as though Foursquare didn’t have early access to the feature and Crowley told VentureBeat he wants to “mess around with it for a week or two” before the company determines how it will integrate with Facebook.

To take a tour of Facebook Places, visit the site here.