Facebook ‘Deals’ Starts With Free Jeans

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Facebook announced Wednesday the introduction of Deals, a new feature for its Places application that allows users to access special offers when they check into a business from their cell phone.

When Facebook introduced Places in August, it was widely viewed as an attempt to compete with Foursquare, the location-based social networking application that lets users “check in” to businesses and other locations to earn bragging rights via profile “badges” and the occasional deal.

As you might expect, Facebook launched Deals with a number of high-profile discounts and freebies, including two entrees for the price of one at Chipotle and 20% off at retailers like H&M and American Eagle. The one that’s sure to entice the most users, though, is the offer of free jeans at the Gap for the first 10,000 people who check in to the store on Friday. The offer is valid for any pair of basic five-pocket jeans up to $59.50, according to the company’s Facebook page. And if you’re not one of the first 10,000 to check in that day, you can still get 40% off any regularly-priced item at the store.

Here’s how it works: First you’ll need to download the latest version of the Facebook app for either your iPhone or Android-equipped smartphone. Then, click the “check in” button on either the News Feed or Places screen. Using your phone’s GPS, Facebook will locate any businesses in the vicinity that allow you to “check in,” and those with a deal will display a yellow icon. Tap on the business name to view the deal, and if you like what you see, just click “check in” to claim it. When you go to make your purchase, show your phone to the cashier to get your discount.

In addition to being a great way for consumers to save money, the new feature may also be a boon to businesses. Any business with a “claimed” Facebook place can easily set up a deal by clicking “create deal.” Business owners can set up a wide variety of conditions to attach to the deal, such as only awarding the deal if customers show up a with a certain number of friends in tow. Check-ins are posted to users’ news feeds, which means customers can brag to their friends about their shopping savvy (and promote the deal in the process). And the Facebook app will push notification of the deal to any users in the vicinity, allowing businesses to announce deals to passers-by without even putting up a sign. 

While Foursquare has had a significant head start in the location-based app market, Facebook’s 500 million user base is likely to give the company a built-in advantage. It will also be interesting to see whether the presence of Facebook can finally bring location-based services into the mainstream.

Despite the popularity of sites like Gowalla and Foursquare, 96% of adult Internet users don’t use location-based services, according to a new survey released today by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Perhaps something as simple as a free pair of jeans will start to turn those numbers around.

Don't want to spend too much? Check out our Deals & Steals hot topic for more bargains. Don't want to spend anything at all? There's plenty of Free Stuff to be had as well.

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