Facebook Deals aims ‘squarely’ at Foursquare

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Article first published as Facebook Deals aims ‘squarely’ at Foursquare on Technorati.

Like 2 cagey boxers, going around and around, eye-ing each other for the right moment to pounce… such is Facebook Places and Foursquare. If you aren’t familiar with Foursquare, just Google it and you’ll find out all you ever wanted to know. The bottom line is that for a long time Foursquare was the best game in town for location-based check-in services. So much so that Facebook and Microsoft, and a few others according to the rumor mills, considering taking a shot at buying Foursquare to immediately ‘place’ themselves at the front of the pack. Just look at Foursquare’s phenomenal growth and you’ll see why everyone seems to be talking about Foursquare lately.

So when Foursquare said ‘no thanks’ to the big boys, Facebook decided to develop their own location-based check-in feature called “Facebook Places”. Because I am a long time user for both Facebook and Foursquare, this was of great interest to me because if I can simplify my life, I am game. If I could use Facebook Places to check-in places instead of having to deal with another program on my phone, I might be interested. But after using it, I quickly discovered that Facebook Places is no Foursquare. There are numerous reasons for this:

1. Most of my Facebook friends don’t live where I live. The fun part about Foursquare is that it is a game with my local friends here in town. We compete for points, badges, and Mayorships.
2. My Foursquare friends are mostly acquaintances that I don’t really care about sharing my vacation pictures with. But I don’t mind laying the smackdown on them by stealing their Taco Bell Mayorship.
3. My Foursquare Android app is just simple to use. No Farmville. No annoying entries in a ‘feed’ to wade through. Facebook is deep and rich. Foursquare is shallow and rich. They each hold a separate place in my digital life.
4. Facebook Places simply doesn’t have the features and ‘richness’ of location-based check-ins that Foursquare does… yet.

And that is my point with this post. With Facebook Deals they are taking one step closer to Foursquare. By allowing businesses to add ‘Deals’ to their Place pages inside Facebook, they are taking away one of the strategic benefits (in my mind) for businesses using Foursquare, namely, the ability to provide incentives for individuals to ‘check-in’ to their location using Foursquare so they can get the ‘special’. I have used these Foursquare specials many times, and it is like finding that money in your pocket that you forgot about. It is pretty darn neat.

With Facebook Deals, the game is now afoot! In fact, there are numerous types of deals that you can create, which goes beyond what can do with your Foursquare specials. But Foursquare has its own big plans for the future, and they aren’t sitting on their laurels. So this cage fight is getting really interesting to me. And I can’t seem to take my eyes off it!

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