The recently launched Facebook Offers beta allows businesses of all types to create coupons for their fans on Facebook. The program takes aim at other coupon services such as Groupon and one of community newspapers' last reliable sources of revenue - the weekly coupon mailer. While Facebook Offers isn't quite ready to take the place of a super-saver, online coupons offering discounts and deals for fans of larger retailers' Facebook pages can now be spotted in those fans' news feeds. The only problem is the redemption of the Offers, which use email as a middle-man and still require a user to physically go to a retail location.
This week, Facebook began testing a different kind of Offers that includes redemption codes for online retailers. TechCrunch's Josh Constine has confirmed with Facebook that that the site is testing a version of Offers that will use a "promo code or special link to click through for a discount on off-site purchases." The codes and links may show up in more than just offers, though, and could be included in ads and sponsored stories. Facebook is testing the feature in a closed beta, and there is no word on when it could be made public in the way Facebook Offers now is.
Given the ubiquity of Facebook, its Offers feature for businesses is a masterful tactical move. It provides businesses large and small with an incentive to have a presence on the social networking platform. Facebook users now have more reason to "Like" a businesses' Facebook page, providing retailers the opportunity to build a community of shoppers. It's a way for Facebook to insert ads into user's news feeds without forcing them on users. And when businesses get a glimpse of how effective the Offers can be just in user's news feeds, that should translate into ad and sponsored story Offers revenue for Facebook.
What do you think? Is my analysis of Facebook's Offers off-base? Will you "Like" online retailers simply for the offers? Leave a comment below and let me know.