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Facebook launches check-ins and Deals: Pros and Cons for SMB Owners


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									Facebook launches check-ins and Deals: Pros and Cons for SMB Owners

Facebook mobile now includes a feature that lets you to tell your friends when you
are visiting a specific business location. Facebook calls this “checking-in.” This
means that you can use a smartphone device to receive a list of local businesses in
your area and subsequently “check in” at the one you are frequenting. This
“check-in” is then visible to all of your friends through your newsfeed and a
posting on your personal Facebook wall. Businesses are taking advantage of this
new concept and adding certain deals and specials that are available only to those
people who have “checked in” to the specific location. With a constant increase in
the number of mobile Facebook users, we can’t help but wonder what effects this
will this have on local SMB owners.

Some of the early participants of Facebook Deals included 24 Hour Fitness, Alamo
Draft house Cinema, American Eagle Outfitters, Chipotle, Gap, Golden State
Warriors, JC Penney, McDonald's, and Starbucks. Gap was one of the first to
advertise their Facebook Deals through commercials. The first 10,000 customers to
“check-in” to the Gap location received a free pair of jeans. This got people lined
up at 8 am to take advantage of the Facebook Deal.

These Deals allow businesses to take full advantage of Facebook advertising by
having the users “check in” to their establishment, yet there are still some cons to
this newly developed concept. One problem is that the “places” category only
shows you Deals from businesses that are close to your current location. This
makes it nearly impossible to plan a specific shopping trip around Facebook Deals
unless your known destinations are surrounding your current location. For
example: A local boutique shop is having a special deal where if you “check in” to
their location, you receive 20% off your purchase. Unless you are physically close
to that specific boutique shop, there is a strong probability that the deal will never
be brought to your attention. This means that as an SMB owner, any deals you
offer would only show up to people in close vicinity.

But do these Deals through “checking in” provide a worthwhile marketing medium
for SMB owners? The answer is yes. That’s because in order to receive the
coupon, a customer is forced to “check-in” to the business location and this action
is then displayed on Facebook for all of his or her Facebook friends to see. This
can create a large number of impressions for an SMB owner since their business
can now potentially be viewed by Facebook’s 200 million plus users. It’s like
having a billboard along a busy stretch of freeway, but even more powerful,
because by “checking in” the user is basically shouting out “Hey I’m at this
establishment and you should check it out too.”

If your business is not yet established on Facebook, setting up a page and getting
listed is not very difficult and is something you should do if you’re serious about
internet marketing. Business places can be added by clicking the plus sign and
entering in the store’s information. The next step is to claim the Place. After
claiming the location, then things like the businesses hours, contact information,
profile picture, and other necessary details can be updated. It is very similar to a
Facebook page but now it includes the map, directions, and check-in features. Not
just anybody can claim a business though. To verify the business, Facebook calls
the listed number and gives the business manager a 4-digit PIN to enter. This will
ensure that only the ACTUAL business owner can claim the business place.

This form of advertisement through Facebook places could be more powerful than
we would ever expect. By allowing businesses to target users and their friends
who had previously “checked in,” Facebook has added a whole new layer to the
internet marketing mix. Local merchants and small businesses are now included in
conversation between Facebook users. “Checking-in” to a specific local business
could potentially have a dramatic effect due to word of mouth marketing and it can
functionally turn customers into brand promoters. Yet just like any other social
media site, negative comments could also come with Facebook Places. That’s why
being up to date on how your Place is being used by Facebook users is very
important to your future success.

 If your business is located in an area that drives in a lot of traffic, initiating a
Facebook Deal could be a great opportunity to create more business. On the other
hand, if your business is not located in a central, popular area, it will be hard for
Facebook users to be aware of the “check-in” deal. But with all the advancements
within the Facebook mobile application, it’s likely that soon there will be a way for
Facebook users to search for certain deals/places that are not close to their
immediate location. Until that advancement is made, it’s still a good idea to
advertise your Deal so you can make your target consumers aware of the discount,
even if you only get the ones in close vicinity.

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