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Facebook Wants to Give You Stuff! Will You Let Them?

May 18, 2012 was the day that changed Facebook forever. Their Initial Public Offering was the day that Facebook had to start thinking more about making money rather than just innovating. But, not all is lost when it comes to innovation on the world’s largest social network. Facebook recently released some updates that can bring value to many users and businesses across the platform – and just in time for the holidays.

Meet Offers and Gifts.

With more than a billion people spending large quantities of time perusing the site on a monthly basis, it didn’t take Facebook long to realize that matching people with commerce was perhaps a more digestible way to make money than filling the right side of your account with more ads. Plus, it has the potential to produce a sizable amount of revenue. So what are Offers and Gifts all about? Let’s take a look:

Offers: Offers are a free way for users to receive discounts from brands, businesses and organizations. When you “Like” the Pages of the businesses you’re interested in, you’ll see their updates, including their offers, in your news feed.

To redeem an offer, all you have to do is click “get offer” below the offer’s headline. Facebook will send an email to the main email address associated with your account. Or, if you have multiple email addresses, the one you choose when you claim the offer.

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When you receive the email, open it, as it includes important details about redeeming the offer. You can also redeem offers from your mobile phone.

To redeem your offer, you simply bring the email to the business and show it to the staff. You can do this by either pulling it up on your mobile device or by printing it out.

So how can offers help a business? Some of the challenges of having a Facebook Page is both gaining “Likes” in order to build a meaningful audience, and turning that community into legitimate customers. Offers helps businesses tackle these two issues. Remember, “Liking” the Facebook Page of a business is really the best way to see the offers they’re posting. So, as people get more comfortable with seeing offers appear on their feed, they’ll be more liable to “Like” your Page and access specials you offer.

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Secondly, the offer can be redeemed in your physical location, via your website or both. This has the potential to bring more people in contact with your business both online and offline. If they have a good experience, they may be enticed to come back again, even without an offer. This can have a positive impact on building your customer base.

Just so there’s no confusion, you do have to pay a fee to make your Offers available. But, your offers show up as a post in the news feed of your “Likers,” rather than as an ad, that many people tune out. A fairly simple 4-step process gets your offer into the news feed of your fans. And, it can be quickly shared with others too, improving the viral potential of your offer. If you’d like to learn more about Offers from the business side, visit the Offers for Page Admins section on Facebook.

Gifts: You may have seen a little red package under the your “birthday notifications,” or on a friend’s profile page. Have you clicked one yet? If you haven’t, you may be wondering what heck they are, and what do they do? They’re Gifts. With Gifts, you can now buy, give and ship a real gift to your friend directly on Facebook within just minutes. The process is very easy:

1. Choose a gift for a friend or family member.

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2. Select a reason for the receiver to visit the Gift producer.

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3. Choose the theme and reason you’re sending your gift (e.g , birthday, wedding, get well, etc.).

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4. Personalize your message. Businesses can benefit from Gifts too by having their products available in the Gifts offering.

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5. Review your order and give your gift!

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It’s that simple. And, on the receiving end, your recipient will see this:

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Once your recipient opens the gift, he/she is left with a nice little post on their Timeline letting everyone know you gave them a gift.

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For businesses, if you’d like to have your products considered for the Gifts offering, submit your information on the Facebook Gifts: Merchant Interest Form. (NOTE: Gifts are still rolling out to the general Facebook user base. You may not be seeing them on your account yet but should very soon. For more information, you can click here.)

So there you have it. Two new offerings from Facebook that can provide value to users, businesses and even to Facebook stockholders (maybe). If you’ve used Offers or Gifts, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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