By Kevin Getch
If you are a business using Facebook (and nearly everyone is these days), it's time to consider the marketing power it can offer you beyond simple social interactions with your customers.
Facebook Offers is a tool your business can use to attract new and existing customers. Better yet, it's free! For example, are you a dentist and would like to increase your cosmetic procedure appointments? Here's how it works:
- Create an offer: "20% Off Teeth Whitening"
- It gets shared on your Facebook News Feed
- Customers claim your offer
- Better yet, they share your offer with friends and family
- Everyone redeems your offer at your dental office
While these offers are shared on your Facebook News Feed and seen only by your fans, there is great potential in finding new customers if your existing Facebook fans share your great deals with their friends. The potential for a "viral" promotional campaign does depend a little on what you are offering (most people are a little hesitant about telling friends they need teeth whitening). The aforementioned example may get a little less referrals, since you're talking about the sensitive issue of a person's looks. But that doesn’t minimize the benefits of Facebook Offers in dental marketing or nearly any other business. If you are a restaurant or a shoe store, though, the possibilities are much greater.
Here is a step-by-step directly from Facebook, for those businesses who are already eligible to create an Offer:
- Go to your Page
- From the sharing tool at the top of your Page's timeline, click Offer, Event + and then click Offer
- Type a strong headline for your offer, ex. "Buy one pair of socks, get another pair free."
- Upload a photo for your offer that will stand out in thumbnail size
- Choose to limit the number of claims by clicking Unlimited and selecting a number from the dropdown
- Set an expiration date by clicking today's date and clicking a different day in the future
- Add terms and conditions of your offer
- Click Preview
- Review what your offer will look like, then click Post
- If you want to make changes to your offer when you're previewing it, click Edit to go back and make changes.
- Only admins of some Facebook Pages are currently eligible to create offers.
It's important to note that you can also expand the reach of your Facebook Offer with an advertisement on the social network (that part, of course, is not free). Facebook is pushing the benefit of doing so by saying that Facebook Pages only organically reach 16 percent of your fans on average (those numbers vary, but that’s the average given over a 7-day period).
Still in beta, Facebook Offers was announced in February, but has just recently been made available to most local businesses. While it's been tested by larger companies, Offers is ideal for small local businesses with limited marketing budgets.
The Big Question
The elephant in the room is how will Facebook Offers impact the bottom line of Groupon and other daily deal sites. Some industry analysts don't seem to be too concerned.
"Groupon has a huge presence in local," said Ken Sena of Evercore Partners in an email to MSNBC. "Therefore, it could be disruptive longer term, but I think initially they will be somewhat separated."
But if Google really wants to put resources into this, Groupon is certainly vulnerable. Which begs the question: was Groupon's CEO Andrew Mason foolish for turning down Google’s $6 billion offer to buy his company? Should he have "got when the gettin' was good" or is he just a maverick driven by things other than money?
The barriers to entry in a business model like Groupon's (or Living Social) are very small, that's why you see hundreds of daily deal sites popping up all the time. If you wanted to have a daily deal site up and running we could have a simple site up in a day and if you wanted the more complicated set up it may take us a few weeks.
Regardless of what the future holds for Facebook Offers and Groupon, both have unique business development opportunities for local business.
Here is a brief overview of Offers from Facebook (addressed to consumers):