Facebook’s gotten into trouble over the years for auto-sharing e-commerce activity. Determined to avoid another Beacon fiasco or scare people away from Offers they don’t want to tell friends about, Facebook now lets you choose to privately claim an offer rather than automatically share the news to friends. Facebook tells me Offers, which let brands post coupons, is getting other new features, too.
Facebook first debuted its Offers product in late 2011 as a replacement for Check-In Deals. Originally, businesses could buy ads or publish Page posts of coupons that you could ask to be emailed. Those emails could be printed out and brought to retail stores for discounts and gifts. Eventually Facebook introduced e-commerce offers that could be redeemed online with a code. Facebook said on its Q4 2012 earnings call that 42 million users have claimed Offers and 100,000 businesses have used the product.
More recently as spotted by Inside Facebook, the social network has been testing Offers with larger photos, a “remind me” option, and the ability for businesses to send you a reminder to redeem your claimed offer. Now those features are getting an official launch, and more iOS and mobile users will start seeing coupon posts in their news feeds.
Along with bigger images that should entice clicks, you will now see “Shop Now” and “Remind Me” buttons on Offers. Respectively, these direct you to a third-party website where you can redeem your Offer, or let you get details in an email for redemption in the future. All your claimed, redeemed, and expired Offers are now recorded in your private Offers section of Facebook. To make sure you don’t forget about Offers you claimed, businesses now have the option to send you a single Facebook notification linking you back to that Offer.
Most importantly, though, claiming an Offer doesn’t automatically trigger a news feed story shown to friends any more. Previously as soon as you clicked to claim an Offer, your friends would know about it. Now after you click Shop Now or Remind Me, you’ll have a button that lets you share the news of your claim. If you don’t opt in, friends won’t hear about it
That’s useful because maybe you don’t want people to know you’re keen on some discount fast food, or that you’re finally getting around to taking that Rosetta Stone course on Spanish. While viral activity stemming from Offer-claiming is one of the free product’s big selling points to businesses, it clearly pushed users’ privacy limits just a bit too far. If Facebook wants to become a serious player in e-commerce, it has to take advantage of its word-of-mouth factory without making people fear their private shopping habits will end up embarrassing them.