Facebook is launching ‘Deals’ today, the social networking giant’s answer to sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. The online discount market may be teeming with competitors, but Facebook believes Deals sets itself apart by capitalizing on its largest asset: a click-happy 600 million strong audience.
The feature will first launch in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco, and will push deals that would be best enjoyed with friends. For niche products, Facebook will hone expert knowledge by collaborating with sites such as OpenTable, PopSugar City and Zozi.
Like daily deal bright stars Groupon and LivingSocial, Deals will send e-mails to subscribers about new offers. Unlike the two companies, however, Deals will also automatically post user-specific deals on users' newsfeeds periodically.
With the many ways Facebook allows users to share, it will be no surprise if Deals' offers spread more quickly than those of rivals. Instead, one unlikely game-changer could be what the new feature does for online payment options. Facebook says it will allow users to pay for their coupons with credit cards and with the Facebook currency, Credits. Up until now, Credits have only been used for purchasing virtual products. This will be the first time the purely virtual currency has real effects in the material world.