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In the market for a new car?  Or fancy earning £4000 ($6,500) in two seconds?  Then check in to a local Mazda Dealer on Facebook for iPhone or at touch.facebook.com for a mobile voucher that’ll get you a 20% discount (£4000) off the price of any Mazda MX-5 (UK only – see list of participating dealers here).

And if the sporty little roadster is still a little out of reach price-wise, no worries, checking-in will also get you entered into a draw to win one of five MX-5 Miyako special editions.  And whilst you’re waiting to see if you’ve won, why not just check-in to the hip restaurant chain Yo! Sushi to claim a free 5 course meal for two (there’s 1000 on offer), head over for a free Starbucks coffee (30,000 available), then onto an O2 store – checking-in and renewing your contract will earn you a free Xbox 360.

Yes, Facebook Deals went live yesterday across Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and UK) and Canada, after the US launch last November.  Brands such as Starbucks, H&M, Yo! Sushi and O2 are international launch partners, but any brand or retailer with a FB Place page will be able to freely set up and manage deals on the new social commerce platform.

That’s right, unlike Groupon, use of the Facebook social commerce platform for brands and retailers is free.  Sure, you’ll need to fund the deals yourself, but the quid pro quo is that for every deal claimed, users advertise your brand across their social graph with a status update.  It’s redemption-led word of mouth advertising. And it’s solving a big existential problem of the 21st Century – for consumers and businesses alike – why bother with check-ins?

Along with the international launch of Facebook Deals, the social networking commerce platform has launched a very Groupon-style Facebook Deals page for users (see screenshot below), showing deals by area, along with a useful search field for searching for deals further afield.

Facebook has also polished up the presentation of FB Deals – with smarter copy and new videos (below).  The net result is that Facebook Deals is looking less like a part-time experiment for Facebook, and more like a business priority.

Groupon, LivingSocial (Amazon) and Google (Offers) will be watching closely as Facebook eats Foursquare’s lunch as an appetiser before moving onto the main course.  Note, though that Emily White, a director at Facebook, has gone on record saying modestly “We don’t want to kill Groupon.”  Hmm.

For users, claiming FB Deals is easy – through three easy steps to claim one of four types of deal:

  1. Open Facebook on your mobile phone, select News Feed or Places, and tap Check In.
  2. Look for the yellow (discount) or green (charity) deals ticket next to your nearby places.
    • Individual Deals: It’s fun and simple to save with these one-time offers, such as 20% off your purchase at a clothing store or a free drink at your favourite coffee shop
    • Loyalty Deals: Check in to a business on repeat visits to earn a special deal-like a free appetizer at your favorite restaurant after you’ve been there five times
    • Friend Deals: Share savings with your friends when you check in together. For example, get free T-shirts for everyone when you all go to a music venue.
    • Charity Deals: Claim donations to worthy causes, like saving the rainforest or fighting world hunger, simply by checking in to the business offering the deal.
  3. Tap a place’s name to see what gift, discount or charitable donation the business is offering. Then check in and show your phone to claim the deal.

So the Facebook transformation is underway, from social networking platform to social commerce platform.

Facebook Deals: Overview

Facebook Deals: How Deals Work

Facebook Deals: Creating a Deal

Facebook Deals: How to Claim Deals

Facebook Deals Page (Groupon Deja-Vu?) (yes, it’s the Miami page – so the deals are for botox and tanning…)

And here’s a video of yesterday’s official London launch of Facebook Places in Europe.

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