Are you looking for new ways to use online marketing and social media to build your business? If you’re reading this blog, then you just might be! In that case, you may want to pay particularly close attention to Facebook’s latest offering for businesses: Facebook Deals.

Released to five pilot cities at the end of last month, Facebook Deals is the social network’s latest tool for businesses of all sizes to tap into the marketing potential of a community of over 500 million users. Similar to daily deal services like Groupon and Living Social, Facebook Deals offers users access to limited-time only offers from both local and national businesses. The major difference, though, is that Deals takes advantage of the social nature of Facebook, making it really easy for users to share deals with friends and for businesses to promote themselves across the site.

Because of this, Facebook is primarily focused on deals that involve products and services that friends can experience together. Take a look at the deals currently being offered in San Francisco to get an idea of what I mean:

Deals near SF
Like any new marketing tool available to businesses, we’ll have to wait and see how this one develops, but I have a hunch that Facebook Deals may just be the silver bullet everyone in the daily deals space has been looking for. Here’s where I think the differences will be:

Social, Social, Social

Sure, other daily deals enable users to share offers with friends, but none of the purchasing and recommending is happening in the same place, which adds the additional layer of someone having to take yet another step to spread the word. Facebook Deals automates this process, posting any deal a user purchases in the news feeds of their friends, just as if it were a status update. Friends can then comment on and “Like” these posts, encouraging a level of engagement unmatched by other services’ share features.

Hit Your Target Every Time

There is no other advertising network out there that can provide businesses as much data about customer demographics as Facebook can. Most daily deal services can give you an email address and a zip code; Facebook can provide anything from age and location to favorite movies and education level. As Deals expands, businesses will also be able to target customers who have bought certain kinds of offers in the past. Not only is this level of demographic information great for targeting your initial audience, but it will also be available to you about everyone who purchases your offer and can help you craft future marketing messages to them.

Mobilize Your Customers

More than half of Facebook users access the network on mobile devices. Included in this are millions of people that use Facebook to check-in at various business locations. As Deals develops, businesses will be able to leverage this mobile use with offers right at the point of purchase.

Virtual Currency = Real Revenue

Up until now, Facebook Credits could only be used for virtual goods in games like Farmville and Mafia Wars. Deals changes all that. Initially, Deals will only allow people to use Facebook Credits for activity vouchers, services, or other non-physical goods, but I suspect this will change soon as the currency system becomes more widely accepted. Either way, the ability to use Credits for purchases on the site is an important difference from other daily deal services. For one, it makes for a great and easy gift. Secondly, it opens up your offers to a whole new demographic of customers with money to burn: kids. Many members of the coveted tween and teen demographics don’t have their own spending money, but parents can load up their Facebook Credits accounts as kind of a virtual allowance. Reach this audience with your offer and watch it go viral!

Virtual Currency

Facebook Deals isn’t available everywhere yet, but expect to see the service expand across the nation rapidly. If you’re interested in trying out a Deals promotion for your business, check out Facebook’s Deals Guides for Businesses here.

And remember, running a promotion like this is the perfect time to integrate email marketing best practices too. Make sure to promote your deal to your existing mailing list as well as make it easy for new customers purchasing your deal to sign-up for your newsletters on your Facebook page.

Have you tried out Facebook Deals for your business or personally? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear about it!

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