September 21, 2012, 11:28 AM

Facebook rolls out its Offers deals and discounts globally

The social network opens up its deals and promotions product.

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Facebook is opening up its deals and promotions product, called Offers, for any global business with more than 400 Facebook fans, the company announced yesterday. It launched Offers earlier this year as a free marketing product for select clients in a handful of countries. Now, retailers and others will have to pay, although Facebook is not insisting that they pay much.

To participate, businesses now must pay for ads to run in tandem with Offers, Facebook says. But advertisers can set modest budgets. Facebook requires businesses spend a minimum of $5 in advertising to post an offer. Beyond that, costs will vary depending on the number of Likes on their fan pages, a spokeswoman says.

Consumers see offers in their news feeds, which display the latest stories and updates from friends and from companies they’re fans of. They click to claim the deals and redeem them by printing them out, displaying them on their mobile phones at a store, or entering codes at e-commerce sites. 

Facebook says the requirement for retailers to create an ad with their offer in order for it to appear in a fan’s news feed will help get the offer more widely distributed.

“Since Facebook knows that the most successful offers are those that combine advertising with the organic reach of a merchant’s fan base, they are simply making that a part of every Facebook offer,” says Lou Kerner, a social media analyst and investor at The Social Internet Fund. “They'll likely have fewer merchants testing offers, but a much higher percentage having successful offers.”

A Facebook spokeswoman says that the company cannot reveal the number of retailers using Offers, but that the product is very popular.

Facebook also updated Offers so that advertisers can add bar codes and other unique codes to individual promotions, which the company says was a top request among advertisers that tested the service. This not only helps businesses to track the impact of their deals, but gives another easy way for e-retailers to share web-only deals with consumers because they can now just scan a code with their phone or enter it into an e-commerce site to redeem an offer.

Getting onto a consumer’s news feed is important for a retailer. The nearly 950 million unique visitors to the Facebook each month are spending 40% of their time on the news feed, and 58% of Facebook members return to the network each day, Facebook says. And compared with reading content on a fan page directly, consumers are 40-150 times more likely to read a business’s story in their news feed, Facebook says.

The Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, NV, says it scooped up more than 177,000 Offer claims with a 48% click-through-to-booking rate after it promoted a $110 resort credit and VIP access to its Haze nightclub when customers booked two nights on certain dates. The deal generated 100 times more clicks  when it appeared in consumers’ news feeds versus as a sponsored ad at the side of the page, Aria says.

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