Dining Deals: Facebook Fires Back

Dining Deals: Facebook Fires Back

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Remember when you needed to hire a tech-savvy kid to oversee your restaurant’s social media marketing? Good news. Facebook now provides an army of tech-savvy kids who will help you market your operation via its new Facebook Deals service. It’ll cost you, though.

Investment professionals place a $50 billion valuation on Facebook, even though its revenue model remains unclear. They acknowledge that it’s an Internet powerhouse…but exactly how does it make money? The arrival of Facebook Deals (different from the similarly named Check-in Deals program Facebook rolled out just last November) is meant to put some of those revenue questions to rest.

Facebook Deals is the social media giant’s entry in the daily deal discount market now dominated by Groupon, LivingSocial and others. The premise is simple: the service offers local prepaid coupons to Facebook users. Consumers access the deals by subscribing to a daily feed of discount offers tied to their local area. The business offering the deal and Facebook share the revenue.

The big difference here is that Check-in Deals were free to businesses, which kept all the revenue. That free ride is over with the debut of Deals.

The first cities to get Facebook’s deal update service will be Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Francisco and San Diego. The promise is that more cities will be added soon.

Restaurants are a key component of Facebook Deals, and the company is eager to get operators to sign up. Its sales pitch touts three benefits to operators.

  1. “Let Facebook do the marketing. Team up with our specialists who will be with you every step of the way to market your business on Facebook.”
  2. “Generate buzz and sales. Put your business at the center of the conversation and promote your deal where friends share recommendations.”
  3. “Build lasting customer relationships by offering unique social experiences that leave an impression.”

The key benefit to restaurant operators is that Facebook enters the daily deal game with 500 million users. Facebook Deals is designed to tap into the site’s social nature, the idea being that individuals who spot a deal they want will recruit their Facebook friends—on average, each Facebook user has 133 friends—to buy into it, too.

You can find out more about the new service by going to http://www.facebook.com/deals/business [2]. A click on the “Contact Us” link takes you to an area where you can get the full details, but you’ll need a Facebook account to get them.

We don’t know which of the many deal service options available in the restaurant space will prevail. And you can still post deals and offers on your restaurant’s Facebook page if you want, even if you’re not participating in Facebook Deals. But we think Facebook’s ubiquity among most restaurants’ customer base makes the new Deals service worth a look.

For more stories on restaurant deals and social media, see http://restaurant-hospitality.com/trends/facebook-checks-foursquare-0111/index.html [3] and http://restaurant-hospitality.com/trends/dining-deal-search-engine-live-0311/index.html/ [4]