February 1, 2011, 11:35 AM

Facebook Deals goes international

Facebook expands the service, which enables merchants to offer deals via Facebook Places.

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Facebook this week launched the social network’s Facebook Deals retail incentive program in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The feature, which Facebook introduced in the United States in November, takes aim at location-based mobile apps, including Foursquare. Similar to Foursquare, Facebook Deals enables businesses to offer incentives such as discounts and freebies to consumers who check in through the Facebook Places service that the social network launched in August.  

In the United States, for instance, a consumer could check in via Facebook Places from a Macy’s Inc. store and receive a 20% discount off apparel, accessories, jewelry and household items. The social network, however, has yet to say which businesses will take part in the new international markets.

As part of Facebook Deals the social network opened up its location application programming interface, or API, so that developers can create applications that send check-ins to Facebook Places. Until yesterday, only U.S. retailers could do that. Now merchants in the new international markets can integrate Facebook’s location services into their mobile apps in much the same way that more than 2.5 million web sites have added the Facebook Like button to their sites.

There are four types of Facebook offers:

• Individual Deals that offer discounts, free products or other rewards.

• Friend Deals that require a consumer to check in with a friend to claim a reward.

• Loyalty Deals for consumers who regularly check in via Places.

• Charity Deals that allow a consumer to donate to a particular cause.

Consumers can find deals by looking for a yellow icon when they check in using Places. When the shopper clicks on the deal, he can view the offer and claim it by showing his phone to the cashier. Facebook then broadcasts that the individual claimed the deal on the user’s News Feed, which allows his friends to see the offer as well.

“We launched Places to let you share where you are with your friends and see who's nearby,” wrote Jon Fougner, a principal on Facebook's product marketing team, on the social network’s blog at the time of the U.S. launch. “Now with Deals, you also can see what offers are nearby and share those deals with your friends.”

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