Facebook Deals launched this week in the UK to great fanfare, offering local ‘deals’ via your smartphone. But who does this kind of service suit best: the big brand, or the humble consumer?
The concept of Facebook Deals is simple. On the Facebook mobile phone app you can click on a Places button. This will bring up amenities that are in your vicinity – such as local coffee shops, hairdressers, pubs, ironmongers and restaurants.
Some of the amenities in this list will now have a little golden ticket beside them. This indicates that there’s a ‘deal’ to be had from one of the nearby establishments – such as a free coffee or a discounted pair of shoes.
If you choose to use this offer then you must present the onscreen voucher in the bar/curry house/laundrette and a posting will be made on your Facebook profile indicating that you’ve used the service.
So, consumers can access a host of deals, but they act as conduits through which brands can advertise.
Is everyone a winner?
Facebook began as a way of putting people in touch with others, but is now being used by businesses. At Which? we are pro-consumer, but that doesn’t make us anti-business.
We, perhaps rather naively, think that a business performing well can cater for consumers well. And it’s to this extent that Facebook has described the Deals service with its ‘win win’ labelling. But are there really two winners in this game?
What do consumers get from the deal? Well, if you’re heading out for a meal and you check Facebook Deals then you could save yourself some money. If there are no deals in your area, then you haven’t lost a lot.
But what do the businesses get from the deal? Having a Facebook presence is huge to businesses. According to Facebook the Coca Cola website gets around 270,000 visitors per month but has 22.5 million Facebook ‘likes’.
An endorsement through your profile page is a powerful and efficient marketing tool, and the more freebies a business offers, the more customers will flood through the doors and the more plugs the company will get.
To me it’s just a little too one-sided and not quite the ‘win win’ it’s been described as. But then I don’t like to walk around with brands emblazoned on my T-shirt – still, such T-shirts probably sell well.
This service has opened up a 600 million-strong user base for brands to target and with so many teenagers owning smartphones, the main market could be one that’s more susceptible to influence.
There’s only one positive side that I can see to all this – that it could ultimately put a stop to the junk mail that trips me up each evening when I return home.