Facebook Testing Location-Based Check-In Deals API for Businesses With Many Locations

Yesterday we confirmed that Facebook will soon begin limited private testing of a tool for corporations with local branches that allows corporate Page admins to manage the Places of their branches. As part of this parent-child limited private beta, corporations can also access a new Facebook Check-in Deals API. It lets them create different incentives, and run and manage them programmatically across any multiple Places.

The Check-in Deals API will make the product much easier for businesses to use at scale. This could increase adoption of the foot traffic reward system, which to date has appeared to be low even in highly wired markets like San Francisco.

Facebook launched Check-in Deals in November to allow businesses to give users discounts and gifts for checking in to their physical location by themselves, with friends, or multiple times. It was initially a managed service for select partners, but Facebook later rolled it out as in a self-serve tool to Pages that list a street address. In March, Check-in Deals metrics were added to Page Insights.

Before the Check-in Deals API, the product was best suited for small businesses with just one location, as manually administrating the rewards across multiple Places was difficult. Soon, test partner businesses with thousands of locations will be able to efficiently use Check-in Deals, which could significantly increase the volume of Check-in Deals available for users to redeem with their mobile devices.

To use the API, businesses must have already been set up with the parent-child Page structure by a Facebook representative. Once a Page admin has given manage_pages permission they can begin creating “prototype deals” that once approved can be copied to children Places. Admins can segment their total list of children Places and then run Check-in Deals at specific segments.

For example, one Check-in Deal could be run at every branch with a certain speciality, within a geographic area, or that carries a certain product. Admins can also use segmentation to A/B test deals at a few similar stores to determine which type and reward performs best before copying that deal to other stores.

Performance data will appear in Page Insights and Facebook plans to include metrics that aggregate performance across local instances of a prototype Check-in Deal. For details on Check-in Deal API calls, authorized users can consult this Scribd-hosted PDF.

Ease of use for big corporations should induce experimentation, in turn increasing awareness of the Check-in Deals product amongst both users and smaller businesses. If Facebook shows that the product can increase foot traffic to some of the worlds most popular store chains, the Check-in Deals API could start a snowball of adoption for the check-in incentive system.