Deal or No Deal?

Although many thought leaders in the mobile and social media space are embracing the Facebook Deals announcement with open arms, there are several initial limitations with Deals that have implications for any business’ marketing and customer engagement strategy.

There is no doubt that Facebook Deals is an easy way for any business to get started in the mobile and social space, since it allows businesses to reward the early adopters willing to check-in at their places. At the same time, however, we know that the future of marketing is quickly becoming focused on personal, one-to-one conversations with your customers, and not a general broadcast to an anonymous group of Facebook users. This means that businesses must develop a wider marketing strategy, where Deals is just one component of customer engagement, and not a strategy that is entirely reliant on it.

With the excitement surrounding the launch of Facebook Deals here in Europe, many forget that Facebook will continue to own all meaningful demographic information about users who check-in via Deals or who like specific pages. There are platforms, such as MePlease, who are uniquely integrated with Facebook that can offer businesses access and ownership of this data. This deeper  integration with Facebook lets businesses have direct access to customers, so they can offer a more relevant and personalised experience, because they know who their customers are and what they like.

We have put together a list of Top Tips to help you make the most of Facebook and Facebook deals…

Know the difference between your fan page and your Place page
This may seem very basic, but most businesses don’t understand that their fan page is what they have most likely already set up and the Facebook Place page is an entirely different entity. The Place page is where Facebook aggregates check-ins from that specific location. Your fan page is where you’ve been driving customers to ‘like’ your business on Facebook.

Claim your Place(s)
At the moment, if a customer checks-in to a place no one else has checked-in to, it creates an entirely new Place page. This has resulted in businesses with several place pages for many locations. This means you must dig deep and claim each and every single one of your locations as an official Place. You’ll be asked to verify your Place pages by supplying an official email address linked to this location.   

Decide on whether offering a Facebook Deal is right for you
Facebook Deals leverages people’s existing use of the Facebook apps on iPhone and Android smartphones, instead of requiring them to download a separate app or join another service. If you decide to offer a deal, when a customer checks-in on a smartphone at one of your locations, they will be pushed your Facebook Deal that is on offer. We highly recommend that businesses promote their deal to optimise visibility and exposure.

Know the limitations of Facebook Deals
While we feel that Facebook Deals is a great way to start a mobile conversation with your customers, you should know that Facebook will retain all of the demographic data of your consumers who check-in and like your Places and Deals. 
Although Facebook Deals will reach the early adopters willing to check-in at your Place, it will not give you what you really want as a business owner, which is better understanding of individual customers and their friends. This means that the conversation remains a one-to-many, broad-reaching communication, that is generic and fairly anonymous.

Develop a long term mobile and social strategy, keeping Deals in mind!
The future of marketing is quickly becoming much more about a personal, one-to-one conversation with your customers. As a result, you must develop a wider marketing strategy, where Deals is just one part of your engagement strategy. Customers are making more and more purchasing decisions on the go whilst they are out and about via their mobiles. This, taken with the explosion of people using social media on their mobiles, means that brands that don’t act now will be left behind.
Finally, there are providers who can offer you access to individual demographic data by taking advantage of their platforms and rich integration with the Facebook API. They will integrate these location-based services into your overall strategy, and make it less complex for you to manage. This deeper integration with Facebook lets you have direct access to customers, so you can offer a more relevant experience, because you know who they are.

Steve Jarrett is the CEO and Founder of MePlease a UK-based integrated mobile and social marketing platform