Many people in the social media circles have disagreed with the sponsored ads and promotions mixed in with newsfeeds or tweets, claiming that they are too intrusive. However, the social media giant Facebook has now made steps to include advertisements within newsfeeds, following a very different route with its new Offersfeature. The Offers feature is at the moment still in beta mode, but allows small businesses to send promotions directly to the newsfeeds of their fans. This allows their followers to click on the Get Offer link to have coupons sent to their email or phone. Unfortunately, Facebookers are unable to opt out of viewing offers if they have ‘liked’ the small business, which has prompted critics to raise concerns over cluttered news feeds. However, the Offers feature will create a new dynamic that brands must be aware of, as too many frequent pushy posts will cause Facebook users to unlike a business’s page. This would result in a diminished social media audience. The feature seems to be taken from the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial, but Facebook has launched the Offer to small businesses just eight months after stopping its FacebookCheck-InDeals feature. The next question is: will the new Offers feature prove more successful? Many social media experts regard the death of the Check-In Deals feature as a sign that consumers on social media were growing weary of a constant barrage of promotions. This feature also calls into question the privacy of when a user is claiming a promotion that a business is offering; many do not want their friend circles knowing what they are accepting. In response to the question of security, the website Entrepreneur notes that:
Unlike Facebook Check-In Deals, Facebook Offers doesn’t require users to check-in to a merchant’s physical location in order to take advantage of an offer. That’s likely to make Offers appealing to consumers who are wary of their Facebook Friends knowing where they are and what they’re buying.What this means is that when a Facebook user claims an offer from a small business who has signed up to the Offers feature, it will automatically add a story on the Facebook user’s timeline, unless their privacy settings are changed beforehand. This will mean that their social circles will still see what they are purchasing. This is not a new feature - nor is it news to people who use social media - and of course those concerned can have their privacy settings changed to not show these offers being claimed. One of main issues I have with the Offers feature set out by Facebook is that it requires no action. A user does not have to check into the feature, which means there is no opting-in (except for liking a small businesses Facebook page). The deals are simply forced into a user’s newsfeed, which could mean that if a user likes 15 business pages it could mean 30-60 offers are bombarding a user every day. In response to this looming threat to newsfeeds, Ed Oswald from PC World said: “Up until now, the news feed had been the last bastion of ad-free bliss on the social networking site. That is now gone.” The next year will be interesting to see how the Offers feature is received by Facebook users and the effect on the businesses social media audience. One thing is clear: this new feature from Facebook means that not even a newsfeed among friends will be safe from advertisements. Only time will tell if this feature will last. How do you feel about the sponsored ads and promotions in your Facebook feed?