After months of waiting, Facebook has finally released its Offers feature for all brand pages,
with one or two conditions in place. This is huge for marketers and brands who now have the opportunity to target their fans directly and gives extra value to how much interaction pages have with their fans. The potential for the coupon-offering feature to affect the f-commerce landscape is huge and with more than 950 million users on the site, there's every reason why marketers will want to sink their teeth into it.
What is Facebook Offers
Facebook is not immune to stagnation, and like every business in this day and age, it must diversify. We've seen how the site is adapting its business to mobile and the countless stylistic changes that are constantly being made to its design, but the company is also expanding into online retail and trying to allow businesses to incorporate the world's largest social network into their everyday marketing plans.
Facebook Offers makes up the core of this new retail focus. Retailers can now post special offers on their products on Facebook, and there are a few ways of doing so, but it's just as easy as posting a status update. They can create in-store offers, online offers or a combination of the two. For an in-store offer, one must simply include all the necessary information - is it buy one get one free? How much is the discount? etc. - while for an online offer, a URL must be provided, obviously, in addition to necessary details and potentially a redeemable offer code.
You have to then set a budget on your offer, so it only applies to purchases that cost up to your chosen amount of cash. You then deck it out with payment options (credit/debit cards, PayPal etc.) and sharing options before it is ready to post.
There are also options for advertisement so it can reach as many people as possible. By using the Facebook Ads tool, you can create and personalise your advertisements and schedule your offer for maximum initial impact. All in all, Offers provides a simple tool for businesses of all sizes to spread the word about their products and offer their customers a quick discount. It's a promotional aid perfectly fitted to the modern online marketplace.
Launched at Facebook's marketing conference earlier this year, Offers will now be made available to all pages with over 400 fans globally after the positive feedback that initial users provided Facebook with. Having been in beta for a while, Facebook has found that Offers is most effective with targeted advertising included, which will definitely play into the hands of larger companies with larger advertising budgets who can afford to find many like-minded potential customers.
Facebook say Offers has been very successful in driving business results, and not a lot will change now that it is being rolled out. Offers will remain free for people to claim and everyone involved is hoping they are shared prolifically. It's certainly a step forward for Facebook's relationship with the online shopping industry; we'll see how a site with such clout can help an already booming industry.
As we have been reporting here on the blog, this has been tested for the last four to five months, but Facebook has been very slow in rolling it out. We're guessing that the main reason for this was because it didn't want to annoy its users. Some of the tests showed that the offers were incredibly viral and were possibly clogging up feeds a little too much. There was also an early indication that Facebook was going to make this free and get the cash and ROI from ads placed to promote these offers, but it looks as if they are now after a much bigger slice of the revenue.
Facebook has the potential to do something incredible with these offers and really discover an important new revenue stream that its investors are craving for. Think of the success that Groupon had and the amount of revenue that it has been able to drive by simply capturing your email address. Facebook already has close to 1 billion users and crucially it has a lot more data about what people like. With Facebook now looking to charge for these offers and every brand and business in the world dying to get their hands on some cold hard cash from their social media activity, this could be a serious cash cow for Facebook in the long run which explains its careful handling.
The one major thing Facebook has over other sites is reach. With over 950 million users (half of which access the platform via mobile), any offer can find its way across the world provided the offer is lucrative enough to entice people. As the majority of users check their Facebook profiles regularly, the ability for users to claim and share deals and the potential for such deals to spread well outside its original fan base is a significant draw for marketers.
The new format shows that the company has learned from its previous venture, Facebook Deals, which failed because it tried to tie it in with group-buying behaviour and therefore presented less opportunity for brands to profit from it. Offers doesn't have this requirement and will pop up on your news feed alongside your other updates.
Also, instead of taking a cut from every discounted transaction, you will pay Facebook for the privilege of advertising the deals on news feeds. This may sound odd as the company could have just taken a cut from each claimed offer, but since Facebook already has sponsored ads appearing in the news feed, its easier for marketers to keep track of one main method of payment (also the reason why Facebook got rid of credits entirely). The second reason is that not everyone will claim an offer so Facebook will get the maximum profit from an offer regardless of how much revenue it generates for the page in question. Just because somebody claims an offer on the site doesn't mean that they'll claim it in-store so it will be interesting to see how this pans out.
In its new form, Offers is only a day old so it's a little too early to properly talk about the pros and cons until brands and businesses have had some time to play around with it. Still, the potential is pretty significant and if Facebook can tempt brands to invest in it, it could be a massive cash cow for the company.
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