Today any local U.S. business can start using Facebook’s Offers product — free-to-create coupons that businesses can share to the news feed, and that users can bring to brick-and-mortar stores for redemptions. First announced in February at the Facebook Marketing Conference, the product has been in private testing with a select group of brands who worked with Facebook reps to run the offers. Now the promotional product is available in a self-serve interface.
While it doesn’t cost businesses anything to run offers, Facebook could still make money on them. If they perform well in the news feed and drive business to physical stores, those stores may spend more on Facebook ads that increase their Page fan counts — and the subscriber bases for the coupons.
To create and distribute an Offer, U.S. businesses that list a local address can go to the post composer on their Page’s Timeline. There they’ll be walked through a tour of the product. Then they can add a thumbnail, headline, and fine print before being able to post the coupon to their fans.
Facebook warns that businesses need to train their cashiers or other staff members on how to process offers when customers bring in a printed email or show the confirmation message on their phone. Otherwise they could end up with confused employees and angry patrons.
Facebook tells me Offers is rolling out to local U.S. businesses today, so Page admins in the States should see the option soon if they don’t already. Facebook does plan to roll the product out further, so if past releases are any indication, the U.K., Canada, Australia, and Japan may be next in line to get customers lining up at their stores with Offers in hand.
Businesses have spent years building their fan counts, both organically and through paid Facebook ads. However, many have wondered what the actual value of a fan is. With the launch of Offers, Facebook has given them a clearer answer to how fans drive a return on investment in fans. Pay for ads, get more fans, Offer a free drink with entree purchase, recoup ad costs with sales of entrees. Boom. ROI.