With all the hype and spin over social commerce right now, you’d be forgiven for dismissing weekly “this changes everything” claims as bubble-talk nonsense.

But…  we think Facebook launched a potential game-changer today with an on-form CEO Mark Zuckerburg (“the iPad is not mobile”) announcing a new Deals Platform to run with its mobile “Places” app (whilst also launching mobile “single-sign on” to create “frictionless” mobile commerce with apps such as Groupon’s iOS/Android app).

Over 200 million people use Facebook on their mobile – and now a slick Deals  interface shows local businesses around users offering deals (deals come in four flavors, some with a social twist – see video below) – check-in to those places – and in two clicks they can redeem the deal.

Facebook Places launched several months ago with the tag line “Places: Who. What. When. And now Where.” and with Deals added to Places today we have – Who. What. When. Where. And now Why.

For merchants, there’s a single-page Facebook Deal publisher that makes publishing deals – whether VIP experiences for check-ins, discounts or freebies – very simple. It’s a great way to introduce people to great local businesses and generate footfall.  So Facebook Deals also answers the perennial question from local merchants – why should I care about the Web?

Mobile needs simplicity to work, and the Facebook Deals platform is elegant in its simplicity.  And its free for local businesses to use.

We think the Facebook Deals platform is a potential game changer. Why? Because it makes offering local deals easier, faster and cheaper on the world’s biggest mobile application platform.  And with Facebook Deals including options to add an uniquely social twist (your friends must check-in with you to get the deal), this is a lovely evolution for social commerce of the group-buy variation. We Like. We Heart.

Will Facebook Deals take off? A few small businesses have signed up to use it from its launch in the US today (international to follow) – Gap, H&M, North Face, McDonalds, Starbucks, Macy’s.  For example, GAP is offering 10,000 free pairs of jeans, for the first 10,000 check-ins, and 40% of all regular priced merchandise for check-ins thereafter. See the Facebook blog post for details of other deals.  And with Facebook as the most popular mobile application platformout there (bigger than iOS or Android), we think it’ll take off. Foursquare beware – you might just get squashed by the Big Blue.

Facebook Deals

  • Individual Deals (Check-in and claim deal)
  • Loyalty Deals (Deals for multiple check-ins)
  • Friend Deals (Check-in together to get the deal)
  • Charity Deals (User checks-in, business donates to charity)

We try not to use the word ‘cool’ here – we’re all over 12 – but the Facebook Deals platform is just that; cool.

See the two minute introductory video below and then catch the archive of Facebook mobile event video below that, covering the new Single Sign-on, Open Location APIs, and the new Deals Platform (skip through to 8.23 and then 37.23 for the key social commerce sections).

Watch live streaming video from facebookinnovations at livestream.com