Pros and Cons: Facebook Offers vs. Third Party Facebook Coupon Apps

Facebook Offers have been available to all brands with at least 400 Likes for more than a month now, and that’s great news for brands! But you may have used a Facebook Coupon application in the past, and now, you’re left wondering if you should stick with the Facebook native option or if the coupon app of your favorite vendor is still a viable alternative. Let’s find out!

If you want to increase the size of your audience or get high levels of interaction, you need to provide value. According to a study by Lab42 (and this infographic on Mashable), the number one motivator for Facebook users to Like your Page is promotions and discounts.

Oh, and number two? Giveaways. In other words, you need to give people something other than your wise words and an endless stream of PR messages.

You could just write a status update telling all of your Fans that they get an exclusive discount today. But that’s hardly effective in terms of virality, tracking, contact and follow-up. It lacks strategy.

One solution is to use a third party app. AgoraPulse is one of the tools that provides brands with a way to share coupons. It is highly effective when used correctly.

But now that Facebook has developed an official way for brands to create coupons that can be shared with their Fans in the form of Offers, the question needs to be asked:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using Facebook Offers vs. Third Party Coupon Apps?

The purpose of this article is to help you sort through the pros of cons of each to determine what will work best for you.

1. Ease of Set-up

It can’t be much easier than Facebook Offers to create a social coupon. Within the Publisher, simply provide title, thumbnail, expiration, availability and any applicable terms and you’re off to the races.

Facebook offers or Facebook Coupon app?

It’s so easy that some brands have run continuous campaigns for weeks or months at a time. Auckland’s Big Little City, for example, ran a series of continuous, back-to-back 48-hour Offers covering a three month period. While that may be possible with a third party app, it would be far more work.

The first initial coupon created with a third party app has a much higher learning curve. After picking which third party app you want to use, you are then responsible for building that application. Depending on how customized you want it to be (some apps have more templates than others), this could be some significant effort before going live.

Of course, if you already have a third party app used for coupons, any additional promotions you run will be significantly easier, particularly if you are willing to go with a templated design.

Advantage: Facebook Offers. It’s so easy that it may be too easy. But this ease of use opens up the possibilities for creativity.

2. Ease of Claim

Once again, Facebook makes this incredibly easy. You see an Offer in your News Feed, and you simply click the Claim link. That’s ridiculously easy.

Facebook offers or Facebook Coupon app?

But again, it may be too easy. There is no commitment once you claim a Facebook Offer. Reports have indicated that as few as 5-10% of claimed Facebook Offers are ever redeemed (others have reported rates into the 80s or higher — though I’m skeptical).

Third party coupon apps aren’t quite as easy. You see a story about the coupon in your News Feed and click a link associated with it. You are then redirected to a Facebook tab. If Like gated (and if you aren’t a current Fan), you’ll then need to Like the Page.

Depending on the promotion, you may not need to provide any additional information to get that coupon code. But you may be required to provide an email address or more info. There is actually a benefit to this for the brand (I’ll get to that later), but it certainly doesn’t make it easier for the user.

Advantage: Facebook Offers. Depending on your perspective, this may not actually be an advantage. The ease of use is good for the user, but not always the brand.

3. Like Gating

With a Facebook Offer, your Fans will be the first to know about it. However, there is no requirement that a person needs to be a Fan to claim or redeem it.

In fact, the ads that Facebook automatically generates to promote your Offer will go to friends of Fans and other non-friends. While a valuable Offer may encourage a user to Like your Page, one Offer isn’t likely to significantly increase your Likes.

Coupons made with third party apps, on the other hand, are often set up with the main goal of increasing Likes. By driving the user to a Facebook tab, the brand has the opportunity to Like gate it — meaning that a user cannot claim a coupon unless they are a Fan of that Page. This is done by creating alternate views depending on whether the user is or is not a Facebook Fan.

As a result, a well-run promotion with a third party app could significantly increase a Facebook Fan base.

Advantage: Third party coupon apps. Simply not possible with Facebook Offers.

4. Virality

According to Facebook, three out of four users who claim an Offer do so after hearing about it from a friend. That friend isn’t necessarily a Fan, so you’re talking about a ton of non-Fan engagement. That’s some serious virality.

Coupon promotions with third party apps can absolutely go viral as well. The app can publish a story to friends’ News Feeds, similar to Offers.

Advantage: Facebook Offers. The potential of virality is closely tied to ease of claim. There is no specific viral advantage that the third party app holds, and since it’s easier to claim an Offer, it’s more likely to go viral. However, unless you offer the latest iPhone for $1, the odds that a promotion go viral are pretty thin…

5. Tracking

Facebook provides a few tools for generally tracking the claims and redemptions of your Offer:

  • Number Claimed
  • Bar Codes
  • Universal Redemption Code
  • Email Confirmation

Now, let’s not make too big a deal of any of this. Facebook Offers are extremely simple. But to make them simple, it’s at the expense of things like tracking.

I might know how many people claimed an Offer. I can provide a redemption code that anyone can use to redeem an online product. But beyond that, it’s almost impossible to determine if someone actually claimed your Offer. It’s easy to fake.

Granted, in most cases where people create Offers, your main goal is simply creating buzz. It shouldn’t matter too much whether someone actually claimed the Offer (especially since you don’t need to be a Fan), but rather that they heard about it.

On the flip side, a third party coupon app like AgoraPulse allows you do things that Offers will not (in addition to anything an Offer can do). Because the coupon is Like gated, it’s more difficult to fake. And brands can also provide individualized redemption codes so that one user can’t simply tell 100 of their friends what code to use.

Advantage: Third party coupon apps. It is much easier to not only track how many coupons were claimed, but how many were redeemed (and by whom). That leads me to…

6. User Access, Contact and Follow-up

Facebook gives me no information about the people who claimed my Offer. All I see is the number of claims. Other than that, I am left in the dark until a customer makes a purchase and either uses a redemption code or tells me they claimed my Offer.

I can’t do things like follow-up with people who have claimed and haven’t redeemed. The people who claimed an Offer are no more than a number.

Third party coupon apps, however, allow the ability to require a user provide name, email address and whatever other information you may need to claim. When this happens, you not only have a list of users who claimed your coupon, but you could follow up with those who haven’t yet redeemed to remind them.

Even more, some third party coupon apps allow you to integrate this information with the API of your CRM tool. This would allow you to build your email list while also increasing Fan count.

Advantage: Third party coupon apps. This is again not up for debate. Facebook does not provide this ability.

7. Cost

When Facebook Offers were free, this was an open and shut case. But now they are tied to Facebook advertising.

Granted, any good Facebook promotion should have some advertising behind it. So while this eliminates the free option, it is likely that you were spending money on ads before anyway.

Third party coupon apps could have various levels of cost associated with them, depending on several factors. The app itself often has some costs associated with it. To run the most effective promotion, you should probably spend money on design of the tab (though there are always out-of-the-box templates that you could use).

And, of course, you should also use Facebook ads to promote your third party coupon. It’s not required, but it would be smart.

However, if you have a page with a significant number or fans, the cost of the Facebook offer can be significant (from several hundred to several thousand dollars!). And if you planned to promote your campaign to your existing website trafic or email list (which is free), the mandatory cost of Facebook advertising will not make the Facebook offer option less attractive.

Advantage: Facebook Offers. While you technically could promote a coupon for less with a third party app if you cut several corners, Facebook Offers simply have fewer moving parts within your control that you may need to pay for.

Overall

Based strictly on these seven items, Facebook Offers has the advantage in four cases. This is where you expect me to say that Facebook Offers win.

However, that’s just not the case.

The truth is that it depends on your goals and your budget. The simplicity of Facebook Offers makes it easy to run a campaign and reach a ton of people in a short period of time with minimal effort.

However, Offers are limited.

The possibilities and control are far greater with third party coupon apps. The biggest advantages are around tracking and user access. Actually knowing who claimed a coupon and being able to contact them is a huge plus.

So, my advice…

Want something light weight and easy, requiring very little budget and expertise? Use Facebook Offers.

Want to increase Likes while building an email list and have the budget and time to create something great? Use a third party coupon app.

What is your preference? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Facebook offers are going away? No worries, we have the Facebook Coupon App you need!

This article has been written by Jon Loomer. Jon is an awesome Facebook Marketing coach delivering unique and actionable Facebook marketing tips on his blog. Don’t miss his Blog and Newsletter : http://www.jonloomer.com/

Emeric Ernoult

Emeric is the co-founder of AgoraPulse, a Facebook Marketing Software company launched in 2011 and based in Paris and San Francisco. AgoraPulse is currently being used by more than 17,000 Facebook Pages across 137 countries.
 
Since 2000, he has been one of the European pioneers in the field of Social Media Marketing. He has advised French and international brands such as Virgin Megastores, FIA and Microsoft.
 
He is a regular speaker at International conferences such as the AllFAcebook Marketing Conference, Facebook Success Summit and BOLO. He is also an accredited instructor at the Online Marketing Institute.