It’s here. The deal site to end all deal sites.
Facebook debuted its Deals program two weeks ago with much heralding from the blogosphere. And although only a few have stated it explicitly, the rumor is Facebook might corner the deals market, considering its ability to draw on an already captive audience and target narrow demographics.
Um, not yet.
Facebook Deals is, so far, simply a reflection of the current market: deals for newbie companies we haven’t heard of, deals-that-don’t-seem-like-deals (a $699 birthday party for four kids at the St. Regis?), deals we didn’t know we needed until the Internet told us (an overnight backpacking trip with Appalachian wilderness guides), and an assortment of spa offers (try a $200 at-home mani/pedi party).
The higher price tag on some of the social networking site’s offers is part of its strategy. Facebook is staying true to its audience by focusing on deals you can experience with friends, making a few of them much more expensive than the offers you’ll see from veterans Living Social and Groupon or Atlanta’s own DealSwarm. Whether that strategy holds depends on how the service fares in Atlanta and its other four test markets (Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco).
Alexis Rhodes, already a deals site patron, hopped on board with Facebook as well, purchasing a $100 horseback riding lesson for $25.
“I thought some of my friends would do it with me, which is sort of the whole ‘viral’ idea,” Rhodes says. Although the Buckhead resident ultimately couldn’t find someone to share the deal with her, she says in the future she’ll make sure a friend signs on with her before she makes a purchase.
The Facebook comments on the deals themselves have been overwhelmingly positive so far, if relatively few — sometimes only one per offer. But others say the service isn’t offering anything special.
“The Facebook Deals thing seems completely backward to me. It seems like they don’t know what the market’s doing,” says Kelly Douglas, an avid deal site user.
Douglas says Facebook is usually very cutting edge, but this debut has disappointed the Druid Hills resident. Offers should come from more local small businesses, and the prices are too high on some deals, she says.
“Who’s going to take the kayaking trip? I’m not about to shell out 200 bucks and then have people never pay me back,” she says.
But a test run is just that. And Facebook’s cult-like following and familiarity are not to be sneezed at. The coming weeks might provide feedback Facebook can use to shape deals for the better.
“I just think they’re chasing the wrong demographic,” Douglas says. “I think it can be redeemed, but they need to find better local deals.”
– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter