Facebook is at once a monumental achievement, incredible time-suck and generational buzzword. How often do you hear the phrase "Facebook me" or term "Facebook stalking?" The recent film The Social Network suggests the Facebook phenomenon is basically a nerd's revenge plot, a system that revolves around relationship updates and photo sharing.
But Facebook is evolving and moving beyond mundane life details. With the addition of new Facebook credits -- a way to buy digital products inside games and apps -- the site is making a foray into online shopping. Many stores, restaurants and other businesses know they should be on Facebook, but not always why. Yet having a "Fan" page follows the same logic as a mall: Business is better if you set up shop where your customers already hang out. People spend their free time on Facebook, not individual websites.
If you haven't yet been convinced to create a profile by your child, a coworker or half-a-billion people, the money-saving benefits should be enough. Not only do merchants offer standard Facebook-only deals and promotions, a slew of other perks come along with "liking" your favorite stores. Read on for eight of the best perks: Some old, some new, but all guaranteed to save you mega moolah. Unfortunately, we can't all be Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg and turn a bruised ego into a billion bucks.
1. Facebook Exclusives
Facebook keeps changing the lingo -- first it was "Fan," now it's "Like" -- but it all means the same thing. When you visit an official merchant page and follow them, you garner exclusive access to deals tailor-made for their Facebook audience. Nearly every brand with a decent following holds some promotions throughout the year: It's just a matter of how often and how enticing.
Granted, you won't follow Coca-Cola if you haven't had any pop in 20 years, but the company regularly sits among the top 10 brands taking full advantage of social marketing with 15 million fans. Aside from the eponymous fizzy beverage, Victoria's Secret Pink and Starbucks are perennial heavyweights and craft regular deals for over 22 million combined followers.
In the next year or so, expect to make purchases directly through Facebook pages, a feature that takes full advantage of your vast network of friends, family and critics. Although the technology is still on the drawing board, you'll be able to sound-off on styles, gear and other goods before checking out. The Best Buy Facebook page already features a full store, and next in line is the Gap family of brands, including Old Navy and Banana Republic.
2. "Like" Incentives
You can Like everything from your best friend's status to President Barack Obama's dog. It's a way to highlight something as noteworthy and, on occasion, watch it go viral. With this in mind, select brands now use the Like button as a marketing tool, offering coupons that grow in value as more people take notice. ConAgra Foods recently revved up it's social branding with this strategy. In three days, a coupon for their Healthy Choice line increased from 75 cents off to $1.25 off, as over 37,000 people liked the coupon. Nothing like the power of the herd.
3. Facebook Credits
Facebook credits are the first attempt to connect all parts of the network's universe -- people, businesses, games, "Likes" -- and convert them to cash. The credits come in various amounts of up to $50 and operate similar to iTunes gift cards. For the hopelessly FarmVille addicted, they can be used to upgrade buildings, buy new tools or plant crops. The cards have been available since early September at Target locations nationwide, but Best Buy, Walmart and other stores are already hopping on board. Check the "Facebook Credits" page for a full list of games, apps and updated info.
Ifeelgoods.com, a start-up at the forefront of the Facebook credit movement, is now working with several merchants to explore how credits can be used as rewards. Let's say you Like a store page or purchase $50 of goodies. Rather than receive a coupon or special offer, you can opt to be "paid" in credits. Since it's still a fledgling concept, there's little way to gauge an equivalent and fair amount, but it's a hurdle many people and developers are ready to overcome: Credits are currently used in over 200 games, including big boys like FarmVille, Mafia Wars and Bejeweled.
4. News Feed Perks
For any doe-eyed Facebook residents, your News Feed is the list of updates, comments and assorted randomness on your homepage. The fastest, most convenient way to follow brand offers is to simply keep on eye on your feed. Most merchants update their pages every few days and these posts are conveniently embedded with news from the various other people you follow. It's less intrusive than pesky e-mail lists, but similarly rewarding. The iTunes feed is especially helpful for music lovers and updated daily with new artist releases, product updates and special offers.
However, direct deals are not always as good as it gets. Coupon sites, such as your dearly-beloved Himalayan haggler, work the same way. Find Coupon Sherpa on Facebook, like his page, and keep your eye open for updated coupons and other enticements directly on your feed.
5. Interactive Deals
There's no official name for the numerous participatory promos merchants run, so we'll make one up. Interactive deals riff off various Facebook features, including photo sharing. Ben and Jerry's and SanDisk Extreme Team have all given away free schwag for taking a photo of or with their product and posting it on Facebook.
Other interactive deals are more like contests, such as a recent Jack in the Box giveaway, while others simply require participation. However, not every reward is the same. In one of the most epic fails of 2009, Burger King offered people one free Whopper for every 10 people they unfriended on Facebook. Yes, they literally rewarded people for ending relationships.
6. Weekly Ad Postings
Ad postings are another convenient way to keep up on the latest deals. Stores like Sears, JCPenney and Target simply re-post their weekly newspaper or online ad in a section of their Facebook page. This means little exclusivity as anyone can cull through them, but if you're already browsing a merchant's page, it doesn't hurt to take a quick peak at the latest deals.
7. Smartphone Access
Even when out and about in those old-school shopping malls, smartphones give instant access to unadvertised and exclusive deals. Rather than pay full price during a ho-hum shopping day, scope a merchant's Facebook page on the go and plan your purchases based on updated deals. Old Navy, in it's endless quest to conquer social media, operates several pages for it's admittedly freaky mannequin-esque mascots. "Old Navy One Day Wonder Boy" is the best, with in-store deals advertised exclusively on "his" Facebook page.
8. Facebook Marketplace
The Facebook Marketplace is, surprisingly, one of the least known places in Zuckerburg's vast digital neighborhood. It's basically an in-house version of Craigslist but with one major advantage: You're given the choice to only deal with people from your Friends list. This eliminates the anonymity and general sketchiness of online classifieds, although your friends have to be connected in order to post.
The free Coupon Sherpa mobile app brings hundreds of in-store coupons to your purse or pocket. Learn more and download the exclusive mobile app today.Mobile Coupons
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© 2013 The Frugals