Eye on the Industry: The Importance of Facebook’s Latest Mobile Announcements

The following is a post from Kevin Olivieri, TIG Global Social Media Analyst.

Facebook Mobile Platform, Local Deals, and More
Facebook just announced a round of new products that are quite likely to cause excitement, as well as disruption, in the current mobile landscape. In April, Facebook’s open graph may have solidified its position to “win the web” over the next few years with its open graph API. Now, it looks like Facebook just may have put together a few killer products to compete as a mobile force as well.

The first product announced was Facebook’s new mobile platform. This open platform will give developers the opportunity to build and integrate truly social apps for users. Why is this important? With 200M mobile users using Facebook mobile, they are much bigger than Apple and Androids mobile base. Facebook is really pushing to make all mobile apps social, and this platform is a great way to lead that charge.

iPhone and Android Enter the Picture
In addition to this announcement, Facebook revealed that they will be launching newly upgraded Facebook apps for iPhone and Android, with the latter app being available immediately.
Why this is important: These upgrades will include Facebook’s new Group feature and an updated Facebook Places with improved tagging and the ability to now share photos on the Places page after checking in. While these announcements are magnanimous in their own right, they were surprisingly just the tip of the iceberg, as Facebook went on to unveil three breakthrough products for the mobile field.

Single Sign-In Function
First, single sign-in was announced as a new log-in button for all mobile apps to help expedite the log-in process. Users can now create or log-into accounts of mobile apps using their Facebook login information simply by clicking on a button and allowing Facebook to access your information and log you in. And for developers looking to add this convenient functionality, all they will need to do is include a single line of code in their apps.
Why this is important:  It saves the user a considerable amount of time. This eliminates the need to continuously log into apps and inputting your information. Current partners using this single sign-in product are Groupon and Zynga.

Write and Search Location API’s Arrive
As we discussed in a previous post, when Facebook announced their Facebook Places product in September, they also released the read location API with it for developers. Today, Facebook has finally opened the write AND search API’s as well, allowing developers to now integrate all checkins from across the app board.
Why this is important: Users will be able to see where their friends are (even on other apps), write and publish check-ins, and search for interesting and important places that are relevant to them.

Facebook Deals
Lastly, Facebook announced what I feel is huge move in the geo-location realm with their Deals product. Facebook Deals enables local businesses to now use their Places page to push out deals for existing customers and hopefully more by finally incentivizing check-ins.
Why this is important: It finally incentivizes check-in’s using Facebook Places! This move allows merchants to truly turn fans and eyeballs into real revenue and experiences. Users can interact with local businesses and share these deals with Facebook friends online.

Setting up a deal is simple: After claiming your Facebook Places page, Facebook provides you with a one page form to fill out with three steps: Identify what sort of deal you are offering, provide a two sentence description, and define a timeline for the deal (start date, end date). The breakdown of the deal types is as follows:

  • Individual deals – Deals focused on users who simply check-in by themselves. For example, The Palms in Vegas is offering a deal where checking in and staying 2 nights at the hotel gets the user the third night free. And if you can’t stay the third night, depending upon availability, users can have their room upgraded for free for the two nights they are there!
  • Loyalty deals – Deals that reward regulars. Example: Store X offers a free cupcake with your purchase every third check-in. It was also revealed that Facebook will have a virtual card within the deal to be punched every time a user checks-in.
  • Friend deals– Deals centered on bringing friends with you. Example: Restaurant Y can offer a free appetizer if you check-in with four friends.
  • Charity deals– Let’s user check in and donate to charity of the local businesses choice. For example, North Face is giving $1 to the National Parks Foundation every time a customer checks into their store.

Claiming your deal is just as simple: When a user sees the deal, they will be able to check into the local business on Facebook Places, click ‘show the deal,’ then the mobile user can simply show the deal to the participating location’s employee, and voila! The deal is done.

Click here to watch the official 'Facebook Deals' video.

The heavy hitters of retail are already sitting up and taking notice.  Some of the large-scale partners announced for the roll-out of this offering included The Palms, North Face, McDonalds, Chipotle, Gap, H&M, JC Penney and Harrah’s.

It should be noted that during these announcements, it was made abundantly clear that Facebook will NOT be developing a phone. But with that said, even without the physical device, these products and services are game changing and don’t just benefit Facebook and its partners, but developers and users, too. It should be interesting to see how long it will take for businesses to experiment with these local deals and developers to put together social apps with Facebook products on the platform.

Do you think businesses will be quick to offer localized deals? Will this push geo-location further into the mainstream? How popular do you think Facebook’s platform will be considering the success of Apple and Google’s Android? Sound off in our comments section and let your voice be heard.

*Bonus-Putting ‘Deals’ to Work *
For those local businesses unsure how to approach Facebook’s Local Deals, here are a few examples of how businesses are already using deals to draw consumers in:

  • Golden State Warriors – Fans who check-in at games get invited to exclusive VIP events after games with a player.
  • Gap – They are GIVING AWAY 10,000 free pairs of blue jeans. And for those who aren’t the first 10,000, Gap is offering 40% off at their stores.
  • Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas – Customers who check-in receive a free souvenir Facebook pint glass. Additionally, the theater with the most check-ins gets a free movie premiere for its customers who’ve checked-in.

Interested in ramping up your social media strategy?  Learn more about the full suite of interactive marketing tools from TIG Global, send us an email, or give us a call at 301-841-4700.

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