At the dismay of my friends that are not engulfed in social media, I’ve been doing quite a bit of research into LBS programs and what works and doesn’t work with each one. For the past month, I’ve been looking into Facebook Places, more specifically its new Deals program.
If you’re not up to speed, Facebook enables companies to claim their venue so when smart phone users check-in, the location is tied back to the official Facebook page (see The San Diego Museum of Art for example).
Once a company has claimed its venue, the admin of the official page can create a Facebook Deal. The challenge of marketers is to decide “which type of deal is right for my brand?” I’ve come to find there are some loopholes in some of the deals that marketers should be aware of before deciding.
Types of Facebook Deals:
Individual Facebook Deal – To claim this type of deal, users need to only check into a venue once. When the user checks in, they click “Claim Deal,” which changes their phone screen to say, “Show phone screen at register to redeem.” Any venue offering these giveaways should be sure that the staff is well-versed on how to fulfill the deal.
The individual deal is best for venues looking to attract new visitors. Each time a person redeems a deal, it’s posted to his/her Facebook wall, making your venue front and center for his/her 100-1,000 friends.
What to be aware of: Deals are new for most users, so messaging and staff training are a necessity. Also, a major challenge for new users of Facebook check-ins is that instead of waiting for their phone to auto-populate with nearby locations, they have the option to create their own venue if they can’t find yours. If they make their own, they’ll never see your official location or your deal.
Loyalty Facebook Deal – Users receive these deals by checking into a venue numerous times (usually between 3-5 check-ins within a 60-day period). A person’s smart phone will automatically mark off how many times the user has checked into the location and once they’ve met the required number of check-ins, they will get the screen telling them they can redeem the prize.
This type of deal is great (in theory) to bring repeat customers to your venue. By encouraging them to visit often, they will be rewarded. Plus each time a person checks in, his friends will be notified, seeing that he frequents this spot, then when the deal is claimed, his friends will see that your venue is offering more value.
What to be aware of – Users don’t need to actually be at your venue to check in. That, in my opinion is a BIG problem seeing that the point of this deal is to bring customers in numerous times. I’ve checked into venues from six blocks away (of course to test the accuracy of a loyalty program). In all honesty, I’d warn my clients to try one of the other deals until Facebook is able to fix this issue.
Friends Facebook Deal – When visiting a venue together, a group of friends can claim a deal by both checking in and tagging one another. This deal is specifically important to have staff training so they know how to verify that each friend is on Facebook and has checked in. In my research, I am yet to find a friend deal offered, but continue to be on the lookout.
This deal is similar to the individual deal but it allows the company to reach a larger audience. It also takes the responsibility off the venue to encourage the check-in. Rather it requires the visitor to find people to go with and to make them check-in on arrival. Finally this deal type also spreads to more eyeballs on Facebook. Since users must have three or more friends check in to redeem the deal, the company benefits by having a larger network view the check-in.
What to be aware of – Not everyone has a smart phone so make sure your staff is prepared to explain that they offer other deals for non smart phone users. Additionally, individuals can tag friends as if they’re there even when they’re not, so be cautious that those that checked in are who they say they are.
Charity Facebook Deals – These are deals that companies pledge to donate to a cause each time an individual checks in. I’ve seen two different companies honor this type, one of them being Subway Sandwiches donating $0.10 to heart health programs for each check-in.
This deal is beneficial no matter what type of audience you are trying to attract. A great time to implement this type of deal is if your venue is hosting a fundraiser or event where you predict you will attract a large audience.
What to be aware of – I don’t see a downside to honoring the charity deal as long as the venue is prepared for the fact that people can check-in even if they’re not in the actual location. It may be beneficial to establish a budget and put a cap on the donation.
All in all, these Facebook deals are a great addition to a company’s marketing initiatives. Because they’re so new, though, I’d recommend incorporating messaging and signage to inform passersby and visitors to your venue that you honor the deal. And be certain to train your staff on how to check-in and what to look for when patrons try to redeem their prizes.