On the 25th of April Facebook’s discount shopping platform Facebook Deals was unveiled and I belligerently declared Groupon as good as toast. Today Facebook announced that it will soon shutter its Facebook Deals product. (“Facebook Deals Launches Tonight & Groupon Doesn’t Stand a Chance“)
There were so many reasons Facebook would win, I thought: it was free for retailers at launch, Facebook’s mobile apps and newsfeed are totally dominant and the big social network could share the rich demographic and interest data it has about consumers with the retailers who ensnare them. It was going to be a massacre, I said, and 63% of ReadWriteWeb readers agreed with me in a survey. Friends, we were all wrong – but I was especially wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong!
But you know what? Who cares! Imagine living at the time of Gutenberg and spending all your time freaking out about which printing press’s coupons were going to be redeemed more often. Ridiculous!
The rest of the social web is so much more interesting than deals, discounts and coupons.
Social media technology is upending the fundamental relationship between performer and audience, between active and passive engagement with media, between voice and voicelessness. Entirely new world views are able to step into the light of public discourse and a blanket of assumptions about how the world works is being called into question when we get to see how one another lives. Every challenged assumption leads to new layers of freedom for everyone whose understanding of the world is expanded.
Half off getting your nails done while skydiving and eating a hamburger? Who cares? The daily deals movement is a crass mockery of the power of emerging social technologies.
I am open to the idea that it is also a new way for small businesses to advertise themselves without paying up front for ads they don’t know will convert…but there sure are a lot of people calling that equation into question.
None the less, I was wrong. User data, distribution, mobile apps and all the other advantages Facebook had weren’t sufficient in the face of experience, feet on the ground selling deals, dedication to the model and execution.
That’s a lesson that any business should remember in a time of rapid change: the fundamentals and execution still matter, a lot.
R.I.P. Facebook Deals…at least you were more interesting than Farmville.