March 15, 2011, 10:27 AM

Facebook goes after Groupon

The social network plans to test a new daily-deal offering.

Lead Photo

Facebook Inc. says it plans to expand the reach of its Deals program to offer exclusive online daily deals. The program will enable shoppers to buy daily-deal vouchers on Facebook and share offers with their friends on the social network.

Facebook Deals currently 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.  

“Local businesses will be able to sign up to use this feature soon, and people will be able to find Deals in the coming weeks,” says a Facebook spokeswoman.

Facebook initially will offer the service in five cities—Dallas; Austin, TX; Atlanta; San Francisco and San Diego.

In addition to leveraging its own sales team to sign up businesses to offer deals, the social network will also aggregate deals from nine other sites—Gilt Groupe’s Gilt City, Home Run, OpenTable, Pop Sugar City, KGB Deals, Plum District, Tippr, Reach Local and Zozi.

By offering its own deals, as well as aggregating other sites’ offers, the world’s largest social network is looking to grab a share of the rapidly growing online daily-deal industry, which could generate up to $6.1 billion in sales in the U.S. alone by 2015, according to a recent report by BIA/Kelsey, a media research and consulting firm.

Facebook’s daily-deal test follows the social network’s first experiment in the space when it last month began offering developers a Buy With Friends tool that lets them build in offers for virtual goods that online game players can share with friends. When a consumer sees an offer in his news feed he can respond by either going to the game and buying the same item or making the purchase directly on the news feed.

David Fisch, director of business development at Facebook, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 in a session entitled “What e-retailers need to know about Facebook."

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