Facebook 'Social Deals (Check-in Deals) with Credits and Partners Launches

Facebook launching its Groupon-style daily deals, the Social Deals (originally "Facebook Deals") is now being called "check-in deals."Starting Tuesday, Facebook is releasing Deals as a "test" in five cities: Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco. The company, which has more than 600 million members, said it hoped that its ability to tap directly […]

Facebook launching its Groupon-style daily deals, the Social Deals (originally "Facebook Deals") is now being called "check-in deals."

Starting Tuesday, Facebook is releasing Deals as a "test" in five cities: Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco. The company, which has more than 600 million members, said it hoped that its ability to tap directly into the communications and activities of networks of friends will help it offer a more compelling service than rivals.

Check-in deals are free to users; they're mobile centric and operate like conventional coupons. By contrast Facebook's new Social Deals, like Groupon or LivingSocial, must be purchased up front using money or Facebook Credits (the first use for real-world products/services). You actually buy a voucher that is then redeemed offline.

"You can receive Facebook deals via e-mail," she said. "But if there's a deal that is good for you, it will likely show up in your news feed at some point in the day."

"You can find deals on Facebook in a couple of different ways — for example, you can get deals updates through email and notifications to find out about new deals in your area. You can also check out the Deals tab of your home page. If your friends chose to share this information, you may also see the deals friends buy or like in your News Feed."

Facebook says they're working with aDealio, Gilt City, HomeRun, kgb deals, OpenTable, Plum District, PopSugar City, ReachLocal, Tippr, viagogo, and zozi, so you can buy their Deals on Facebook too.

Check-in Deals are directed toward national entities and small businesses alike. However Social Deals are more focused on local businesses. They contemplate friends discovering, planning and coming together for offline events and experiences. The intention here is to make the Facebook online experiences translate into real-world experiences.

Deals may well be a boost to another important Facebook program: Credits, the company's virtual currency. Users will be able to buy Deals with a credit card or with Credits. Until now, Credits could only be used to buy virtual goods inside games and some digital products like movie rentals.

Here's how the Facebook deal would work?:

Facebook will try to field deals that're more "social" in nature (e.g., events) vs. more traditional daily deals (e.g., cosmetic dentistry). One such example is a VIP experience at the theater where "Austin City Limits Live" (ACL) is produced and performed.

As an aside, note the deals link in the left nav of the ACL page above. Here's a description of this particular deal:

Another thing to notice about the ACL deal is that there's no associated discount, a hallmark of traditional daily deals: "50 to 90 percent off." However this's precisely the type of offline social experience that Facebook is seeking to promote with the new program.

Another difference: you can Like deals without buying them -- or before buying them. If you Like a deal it'll be exposed through your feed.

You can also share and privately invite selected friends and ask them to join you or expose them to a deal. Facebook users can message each other and discuss the deal as a group before collectively buying. (Not all deals will be targeted toward groups.)

Like traditional daily deals Facebook Social Deals will come through email but also through the Facebook news feed. And they may potentially be exposed via Facebook Ads as well.

The new deals are supposed to be "social from the ground up." Beyond the effort to to make them more social for consumers there're also important differences from conventional daily deals on the merchant side.

Merchants will also be permitted to set caps on how many deal vouchers can be purchased. This's typically not allowed on more traditional daily deal sites. Merchants will be required to have Facebook Pages before they can participate.

With Facebook Social Deals local merchants can direct new customers to Like them on their Page and -- voil