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1-800-Flowers.com Throws Bouquets at Facebook Offers

Rosetta Stone and Coastal.com also praise the young deals platform

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1-800-Flowers.com just hit 500,000 Facebook fans and today is commemorating the social media milestone by pitching free shipping, no service charge and a $10 Zynga gift card via Facebook Offers. At press time, more than 2,000 had claimed the special, which the e-commerce player is pushing with ads on the social site. "Claims," in the Facebook marketing vernacular, are financially noncommittal—no immediate purchase required—and involve an email immediately sent to the consumer who can then redeem the coupon-like offer during a window of time normally lasting weeks.

The current 1-800-Flowers campaign follows up a similar effort it ran for Mother’s Day that produced 12,300 claims. Half of those claims derived from Facebook ads, said Amit Shah, director of mobile and social for the Carle Place, N.Y.-based flowers brand, while the other half came from proliferation in newsfeeds.

Compared to Mother’s Day 2011, when the brand merely ran ads on the social site, Shah said, Facebook sales were through the roof for this year’s maternal-minded gift-giving holiday. It’s made his company a believer in the seven-month-old Facebook Offers platform from Mark Zuckerberg’s digital giant.

“The half-life of the redemption of the claims is very quick,” he said. “It’s in the matter of days—not weeks. It’s just a little more socially appealing, I would say, compared to $10 off in your email inbox. I know my Gmail box is filled with like 50 different deals.”

Coastal.com And Rosetta Stone Vouch As Well

1-800-Flowers isn't the only brand touting Facebook Offers, seemingly due to business-oriented advantages over other players in the deals space, which market research firm BIA/Kelsey this week said would reach $5.5 billion by 2016. Unlike Groupon, LivingSocial and Google Offers, Facebook doesn’t take a sales cut for redeemed vouchers. Facebook Offers are distributed to an advertiser's likes/fans in the news feed. When a Facebook user claims an Offer, his or her friends can see the action plugged in their newsfeed. The action will also post to a user's Timeline. Businesses have to pay to create greater distribution via Facebook's suite of Premium, Sponsored Stories or Marketplace ads.

Curtis Petersen is vp of advertising at eyeglasses retailer Coastal.com, which recently ran its fifth Facebook Offers campaign. His brand has collected 433,000 claims of which 20,000 coupons have been used for close to a five percent redemption rate. Petersen said his company has spent hundreds of thousands of ad dollars on the deals platform this year, while stating that Facebook trumps Groupon and LivingSocial for return on investment.

“If it’s new, we usually go in and try it,” he said after being asked about Groupon and LivingSocial campaigns. “You name it, we’ve done it. They were successful out of the gate, but had a deteriorating effect over time. At this point, they are not a meaningful part of what we do.”

Rosetta Stone recently used a Facebook Offer to pitch $100 off its language-learning product series in a Back-to-School-themed pitch. Around 200,000 Facebook users claimed it after either seeing ads in their news feed or viewing a friend nabbing the offer.

“We actually brought in as much sales from Facebook Offers that day as we did with Google paid search,” said Shavanna Miller, senior manager of digital marketing at Rosetta Stone. “When we dialed in on mobile- and newsfeed-only ads within the Facebook environment, that’s when we started seeing the rapid return.”

Miller added, “It’s been definitely the most significant return we’ve seen in the ads with Facebook.”