Facebook’s latest attempt to tap in to the local/mobile scene came out on Wednesday. It was actually a series of announcements, with Facebook Deals as the centerpiece. Greg Sterling wrote up an excellent overview on Search Engine Land, and here’s the Facebook announcement.
I’m not at all convinced that Facebook Deals will change anything. It may be a nice add-on marketing tool for certain businesses, but I certainly don’t think it puts Foursquare, Groupon, or any other local deals-based service out of business. Here’s why I feel this way:
1.) Didn’t people say the same thing about Facebook Places?
That was supposed to be the death knell of Foursquare and similar services. Just last week, Business Insider reported that Facebook Places has 7x more users than Foursquare … but they’re not actually using it. It’s a very similar piece to my Facebook Places a Week Later: Using It? from August.
2.) Didn’t people say the same thing about Google Coupons?
Google added a coupon feature to the Local Business Center (now called Google Places) years ago … like 2006 or so, I believe. I wonder how many small business owners (in general) are aware of it. Probably a tiny fraction. I wonder how many small business owners who’ve claimed their Google listing are aware of it. Probably another small number. Anecdotally, I don’t see a ton of coupons being offered via Google Places. And while I haven’t seen any numbers on adoption, I think we can all agree that Google Coupons did not change the local marketing landscape.
3.) Facebook Deals will probably be most beneficial to Big Companies.
Logic suggests that recognized brands are most likely to be “liked” on Facebook. There are successful small business owners using Facebook and developing a following. But the impact of offering deals to your Facebook followers is somewhat limited when you have 300 Facebook followers. Let’s face it: There’s a reason why all of the initial Facebook Deals partners are Big Companies like JCPenney, Gap, Starbucks, REI, and so forth. They have an enormous base of followers on Facebook and should jump at the chance to take advantage of it. But I don’t believe small businesses will get the same impact.
Are You Saying Facebook Deals is a Waste of Time for SMBs?
No, not at all. What I’m saying is that, for many small business owners, I think Facebook Deals becomes just another venue for trying to get deals out in front of interested customers — no different than Valpak, Foursquare, Google Coupons, and so forth.
Facebook Deals probably isn’t a waste of time if you have an active presences and fan-base on Facebook. Use it. Give it a try. But I wouldn’t expect it to be a game-changer for the vast majority of small businesses who do.
Maybe this is just my natural disinclination towards Facebook coming through. Am I wrong? Comments are open. Tell me what you think Facebook Deals means.