Facebook logoThere’s a tug-of-war going on between location-based
technology advocates and, well, the rest of the online population. Just 4% of
online Americans are actually using location-based services, according to new data
Pew Internet. That paltry adoption hasn’t stopped startups like
Foursquare and Gowalla from trying to entice advertisers to offer deals on
their location-based platforms.

Now Facebook has entered the fray with its new “Deals” offering,
which gives users exclusive deals when they check in at stores. Is it

Brands don’t seem to think so. As of the launch of Deals, there were already dozens of companies with location-based offers, including Macy’s, Gap, Chipotle, and even The Palms.  Why so much confidence?

Places is popular

There have already been over 100 million user check-ins via Facebook Places, making the Deals option an “ideal platform” for building direct relationships with a brand’s target market according to Leslie Hall, president of ICED Media. ICED is the social media marketing agency that represents The Palms and encouraged the resort-casino brand to issue an offer via Facebook Places.

That may seem small compared to Foursquare, which has boasted upwards of 1 million check-ins per week. But remember that Foursquare launched over a year ago. Facebook Places launched just three months ago.

Adding deals can help sustain Places’ popularity as it gives users a tangible reward for checking in. This keeps users from getting bored and abandoning checking in to Places altogether.

A plethora of ad options

Companies can offer different kinds of deals, and make them available to individuals — or require that users check-in as a group to redeem. Current option include:

  • Discounts
  • Upgrages
  • Free merchandise
  • Charitable donations
  • Unique experiences and rewards

Easy-to-use, self-serve platform

Facebook has made creating Deals through Places a very simple process. Marketers familiar with its self-serve ad creation platform will have no problem using it. Even companies that only have Fan pages will be able to create a simple deal if they have physical locations listed.

(The image below is not a video. Click here to visit the Facebook’s tutorial).

Facebook Deals ad platform

Are you using Facebook Places, or location-based apps in general? If so, what kinds of offers would you like to see? If you’re a marketer, are you thinking about Facebook Places and Deals as part of your social advertising budget? And do you think Deals will help Facebook crack into the lucrative local online ad market, particularly with small and medium-sized businesses?