Hot on the heels of the Google Offers beta launch Facebook has revealed it is also jumping into the local deals frenzy that made Groupon a multibillion-dollar company. Appropriately named Facebook Deals, the new feature is launching in Austin, Atlanta, Dallas, San Diego, and San Francisco initially. Users who opt into the program will get to see discounts specific to their locations via email or, in some cases, through their news feed on Facebook.
Facebook is reportedly working with a number of other deals sites in the venture, while taking advantage of their 500 million and growing users sharing what they "like" with their group of friends.
Indeed the social component is expected to be the main differentiator against the likes of Groupon and Amazon's LivingSocial. "We're building a product that is social from the ground up," says Emily White, director of local for Facebook. "All of these deals are things you want to do with friends, so no teeth whitening, but yes to river rafting."
Offers through Facebook can last anywhere from a day to a week. Each deal will have its own Facebook landing page, where users can buy into the offer, click the "like" button to recommend it to others or share the offer privately with friends through Facebook's messaging system. There's also the possibility of getting a "friend bonus" - an additional discount - if at least one other person in your social network buys a deal that you liked.
It's worth mentioning that the Facebook already had a Deals feature but that has been renamed to Check-in Deals. The latter is more of a Foursquare competitor, which allows users to "check in" via their mobile phones when they visit certain businesses and in turn receive discounts and other special offers.