“Facebook has sent an email to [my personal email] without sharing your personal info with the business.”

That was the message that I received when I claimed an offer on Facebook last week.  Sounds great, right? I get something for nothing. But not so great for small businesses.

In fairness, the offer I “claimed” was from a big, established national brand that probably doesn’t need to grow their email list and Facebook fans.

But it left me thinking really hard about the value of Facebook Offers as a marketer and whether or not it is simply the social media version of a coupon in the newspaper.

What the offer did well

  • It’s sharable: The offer was easy to share both within Facebook and in the email that delivers your coupon, which means more social visibility for the coupon and the brand.
  • Created a sense of urgency: The offer was a great deal, but for one day only. That means if you want to use it you need to shop TODAY.  Like any offer on any platform, you want to drive a specific call to action.
  • Mobile friendly redemption: While you can certainly print out this coupon and bring it into the store, you don’t have to. Which means you can claim and use an offer without ever using a computer or a printer.

What the offer did poorly

  • No relationship building: This is a big one, especially for people who do not actually use the coupon. For years we have been talking about permission marketing and the power of getting people to opt-in. “Liking” a Page is the Facebook version of permission marketing yet Offers do not help you get the permission. Sure, they raise it as an option, but it’s not required. Whereas, “like-gating” the offer means everyone wins because there is an even value exchange—I get a great discount and the business gets the opportunity to communicate with me again.
  • What about fan loyalty?  As someone who has not liked the Page, it’s great that I can get the offer, but if I was a loyal fan I might be feeling a little unfulfilled. Research shows that one of the biggest reasons people “Like” a Page is for special discounts and promotions. But with an offer for anyone, your fans may be feeling like they are not as valued as they could be.

The takeaway

If you can afford to give away something for nothing, by all means go right ahead. But for the rest of us, there is an opportunity to use coupons and discounts to not only drive short term sales but to serve as the launching pad for long term relationships between consumers and the businesses they love.

Have you had success running a Facebook Offer? Tell us about it in the comments below.