An offer you can’t refuse

When first announced by Facebook this past February, plans for the Facebook “Offers” program caused a stir. But the couponing feature was immediately available only to a handful of brands, and then more recently in overseas “beta” tests. Last week, however, Facebook Offers began rolling out to most small business pages, including a number of hotel pages.  

It’s a free service in which page admins can post an offer to Facebook fans (such as “buy one drink at the hotel bar, get a free appetizer”). The post includes the dates during which the offer is valid (Facebook recommends at least a week), and fans who click “get offer” receive an email from Facebook listing the terms of the offer. They then present this email to the hotel as a coupon or voucher essentially, either by printing it out and bringing it in, or by coming in and showing the email displayed on their mobile device. The terms may include such language as “one redemption per customer per day” to keep someone from just printing out 100 copies or other abuse.

The offer can also be set with a limit of how many people on Facebook may click on it before it’s “sold out” to limit the hotel’s exposure.

While a free service — basically it’s just a status update with new functionality — it’s possible to create Facebook ads directed to the offer post (or to pin the post to the top of the wall and drive fans to the main Facebook page). 

Even Facebook suggests businesses will need to “experiment” with this process, but it’s extremely promising for hotels. It’s promising for Facebook as well, of course, given the potential added incentives for advertising — not that the IPO-bound behemoth needs more good news. Still, it’s a chance to further encourage Facebook fans to take direct action, promising an answer to that elusive ROI on pages. 

What do you need to get started? If your business has a local address listed in its profile, admins will see the option to create an “Offer” in their status bar. 

Facebook has dressed its Offers to the “nines,” requiring the following specs:

  • A 90-character (maximum) headline
  • A 900-character (maximum — much less recommended!) terms and conditions
  • A 90 x 90-pixel square image to accompany the post 

It’s easy to launch and execute, though Facebook cautions businesses to train their employees on accepting the coupons before launching offers. So have at it! We’ll be launching Facebook Offers with some of our own hotel clients, and if you know of hotels running successful offers, I’d love to hear about them!