Facebook Page administrators can offer their own pre-paid coupons without using Facebook Deals or centralized deal distributors such as Groupon thanks to new services from two companies: thruSocial, and FaceItPages. thrusocial boasts easy distribution to Facebook and Twitter, along with drag-and-drop Page tab app creation. FaceItPages’ ecommerce storefront app allows businesses to sell traditional merchandise as well as deals right from their Page, but has fewer distribution options.
These tools types of tools, several of which exist already, allow businesses to avoid paying out up to 50% of the revenue they make off their deals to providers like Groupon, LivingSocial, and syndication partners for Facebook Deals such as Home Run. However, businesses lose the massive distribution power these third-parties provide, making tools like thruSocial and FaceItPages less helpful to Pages without a large existing fan base.
Social ecommerce has been heating up this year, with signs of great potential despite some contradictory reports. Facebook just launched its own pre-paid coupon service that competes with established players thanks to its preferred access to the site’s news feed and sidebar. Some third-party Page management tool and Ads API companies are now offering deals apps, including WildFire, North Social, and TBG Digital. Meanwhile, ecommerce storefront apps are rapidly proliferating, with the most prominent ones coming from Payvment and 8thBridge.
ThruSocial and FaceItPages now join this pack, but hope to differentiate their tools by concentrating on assisting with distribution and presentation respectively. When businesses offer deals through popular deal distributors with big ad budgets and email lists, their coupons can reach millions. Using a tool means they have to handle distribution by themselves, usually meaning fewer sales.
To offset this, thruSocial provides a Message and Promotion Center. Here, businesses can automatically create promotion campaigns with landing pages that live on Thrupons.com which are then automatically promoted in updates published by the app to the business’ Facebook Page and Twitter account. This isuseful for small businesses that don’t want to continually promote their deals manually.
In addition to deals, Page admins can use thruSocial’s suite of pre-made widgets for integrating things like PayPal, surveys, a contact form, and Facebook sharing. The drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to create apps with a custom look and feel without any coding experience. The service’s free plan offers one thruSocial-branded custom tab and three widgets but no access to the promotion center. Premium plans ranging from $199 to $1100 a year allow additional capabilities including the Promotion Center, unlimited white-labeled tabs and widgets, and design consultation.
FaceItPages’ Coupon app is delivered through a special ecommerce storefront template. Coupons can be installed as modules on custom Page tab apps created through the service’s app creator. There’s no drag-and-drop interface, though, so it’s harder to control presentation. There’s also no assistance with distributing the coupons past adding them as tabs, so FaceItPages clients will need to design and schedule their own promotional campaigns. The free tier of the service includes one FaceItPages-branded Page with limited functionality and up to five tabs. Premium tiers ranging from $96 to $1500 a year provide additional functionality, up to 50 Pages, and a white-labeled solution, but still only five tabs per Page.
Overall, FaceItPages is less flexible and has much worse distribution, but doesn’t require businesses to send users off-site to redeem deals. ThruSocial appears to be the better option for most businesses even if deals don’t live on their Pages, because its design flexibility and promotion options solve the main issue with forgoing an established deal distributor. Still, both of these tools will be of little use if a business doesn’t have a large, engaged following. It really depends on a business’ goal. If it is trying to make money, tools like these can help businesses keep all of a coupon’s revenues, but if the goal to raise awareness and jumpstart long-term business, the reach of a distributor like Groupon is essential.