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Facebook’s Deals offering finally ties the group buying phenomenon to social media.
Until today’s announcement by Facebook of a service that uses the social and sharing features of the site to get people to recommend deals to each other (nma.co.uk 26 April 2011), group buying had only paid lip service to making deals social.
The difference with Facebook, compared with Groupon or Living Social, is that its Deals service is built into the exact place where people are already making plans, rather than needing to attract them elsewhere with the draw of a huge discount.
At the moment, group buying is entirely driven by the extraordinary deals on offer, but by putting the functionality into Facebook, retailers will be able to have more control over the value they reward people with for sharing with their friends.
Other group-buying services encourage the sharing of deals via email and Like or share buttons, but the inherent social context of looking at deals on Facebook will make it a much more interesting experience. Deals will spread very quickly too, with those that are Liked or purchased automatically going into news feeds for all friends to see.
Facebook is also allowing the use of its Credits currency as a means to pay for the deals. This is the first time Credits will be used outside a social gaming or virtual goods context. The ease of buying with Credits could make purchasing within social media a more natural behaviour; it’ll be interesting to see how it’s adopted because the potential to expand Credits to other aspects of social commerce is huge.
At the moment, this Deals service isn’t tied into the self-serve option, which Facebook has for its ad platform, but if the tests show that would work, this could be an essential tool for businesses, particularly local SMEs. Self-service deals will make Facebook’s Deals service easy not just for people to redeem and share, but for retailers and businesses to get involved. Ease of use and more control over the value of deals will make this a powerful tool for companies and provide stiff competition for existing group-buying platforms.