Dave Taylor

Add a check-in deal to your Facebook Places venue?

By: Dave Taylor
July 6th, 2011
I've created a Facebook Places venue for my cafe and am pleased with the results (and the tracking analytics, very cool!) What I'd like to do is offer some sort of coupon incentive to help people spread the word about my place. Can you step me through how to set up a Facebook Deal for my venue and best practices both?

Dave's Answer:

Congrats. You're one of the relatively small number of venue owners who realizes that there's more to your Facebook presence than just a billboard and a menu. You can, in fact, incentivize people to visit your place and check in (which shows all their friends that they're at your cafe, helping spread the word too) for relatively little cost. Even better, when you create a deal for a Facebook Places venue, you are rewarding the subset of people who actually come to your place. Smart.

Having said that, there are a number of restaurants and other businesses that are learning the importance of understanding all the numbers before they jump into a geolocation deal like Groupon or LivingSocial. Those are more expensive because the networks take a cut (Groupon takes 50%, LivingSocial 20-30%) but even without it, the first thing I'll encourage you to do is think through the cost of your deal versus

That's why Facebook seems like an interesting alternative, as you'll see in a second.

To start out, go to your Facebook Places venue page and click on "Edit Page". Now on the left side of the page you'll see quite a few different options:

facebook places delete venue 2

The one we want is "Deals" near the bottom. Click on it and you'll see the little info graphic for Facebook Checkin Deals:

facebook places deals setup 1

Click on "Create a Check-In Deal for this Page" and you'll see that there are four basic types of check-ins available:

facebook places deals setup 2

Since you're not a charity, you can't use the last one to garner donations but any of the other three are worthwhile choices. The best option depends on what behavior your want to incentivize. If you want to encourage people to come in with their friends (e.g., more groups) then a Friend Deal can be great: when two or more people check in at the same time, they each get a deal you've specified.

If you want to get new customers to visit, then an Individual Deal is probably your best bet as it rewards everyone who comes in and, don't worry, you can put a cap on the total number of deals you make available.

Finally, Loyalty Deals are basically digital loyalty cards. You can set them up so that every fifth checkin produces a coupon for a free dessert or free muffin with the purchase of a cup of coffee, for example.

Let's go a bit further with an Individual Deal and see what's revealed:

facebook places deals setup 3

Note that if you're going to have any of these check-in deals involve showing their printout or mobile screen to your salesperson or cashier, you're going to have to train your staff to recognize and properly deal with the digital coupon. I have gone into places with Foursquare discounts just to have the cashier be completely stymied and half the management team in the store show up to figure out how to process it correctly. Makes the store look a bit loosely managed in my opinion.

It's the last portion that lets you really specify the parameters of your Facebook Check-In Deal:

facebook places deals setup 4

As you can see, you can set a starting and end date, specify a maximum number of redemptions (which I suggest is a must so that you can calculate the costs associated with your campaign) and indicate how often someone can use the deal (e.g., once per day or once per user). Know and thoughtfully set your parameters and remember that if you're too strict you can always do another campaign that's a bit loser, but if you're too lose, you could lose money on the promotion or really upset your customers in the process.

From this point, all you need to is click on the "Create" button at the bottom of the page and the deal is created and live. Now the hard part, letting your customers know. But for that I'll leave it to your own creativity!

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About the Author: Dave Taylor has been involved with the Internet since 1980 and is internationally known as an expert on both business and technology issues. Holder of an MSEd and MBA, author of twenty books and founder of four startups, he also runs a strategic marketing company and consults with firms seeking the best approach to working with weblogs and social networks. Dave is an award-winning speaker and frequent guest on radio and podcast programs. AskDaveTaylor.com http://www.intuitive.com/blog/