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Facebook, Yelp Follow FourSquare, Launch Deals

Last week both Facebook and Yelp announced theyd soon be offering deals to customers who check in at a particular location. Good idea, right? FourSquare sure thought so when they launched it months ago.

On the Yelp blog, Luther Lowe didnt give specifics but hinted that the review site would soon offer Yelp Check-In Offers to help further bridge online discovery and online buying. According to the blog post, Check-In Offers will be different from Sales and Special Offers and will give users discounts when they check in to locations. As ReadWriteWeb stated last week, the check in feature does make a lot of sense for Yelp to incorporate. Yelp has always been a site dedicated to local discovery and matching users with SMBs. This seems like a very natural extension of that. While Luther didnt offer many details, this will be a nice addition to the site.

But Yelp wasnt the only company to announced check in offers last week; Facebook did as well.

Facebook took the stage last week to announce a number of enhancements to its mobile platform. They announced new features like Facebook Groups for Mobile, a Facebook Places API, Single Sign-In to sign into other sites with one click, Facebook Places for the iPhone, etc. However, none of what they announced rocked the blogosphere more than the announcement of Facebook Deals.

Facebook Deals is exactly what it sounds like a new service that will allow SMB owners to offer their customers special deals when they check in to their business on Facebook. According to Facebook, Deals will come in four different flavors:

  1. Free merchandise or other reward
  2. Friend deals where you and your friends clam an offer together
  3. Loyalty deals for being a frequent visitor to a place [similar to Mayor deals offered on FourSquare]
  4. Charity deals where businesses pledge to donate to a cause when you check in

Facebook already has more than 20 major brands signed up to offer deals, including 24 Hour Fitness, American Eagle, Gap, JCPenney, Macys and Starbucks. And were not just talking about offering a free cup of coffee or pastry either. Some of these deals are surprisingly enticing. For example, Gap will give a free pair of jeans to the first 10,000 customers to claim the deal, and the San Francisco 49ers will offer 200 fans tickets for just $49.

When you combine the quality of the deals with the brands behind them and Facebooks active 200 million mobile users a month, the power of Facebook Deals become quite evident. While FourSquare and Groupon have had a hard time attracting mainstream users, Facebook has already captured these folks. That gives them a great advantage in the mobile space.

Once the program is rolled out, business owners will be able to easily create Facebook Deals from a single screen. Business listings that include a deal will be given a yellow marker on the Nearby Places page to signify that a deal exists and encourage users to click through and check it out.

To view the deal, users must pull up the Facebook Place page, where they can then claim it. Business owners who take part in Facebook Deals will be able to see how many people have claimed a specific deal vs. how many people have checked into their business. They wont be able to tie the check-in to a specific user, just like they cant see which user clicked on a Facebook ad.

If youre a small business owner, Yelp Check-In Offers and Facebook Deals are definitely programs youll want to take a look at. Discounts and coupons have time and time again proven to be one of the leading reasons that social media users interact with brands online. By pairing an enticing deal with a relevant audience, theres a huge opportunity. Were still waiting for further information from Yelp about Check-In Offers, but you can find out more about Facebook Deals here.