Facebook to Foursquare

It’s obvious that Facebook sees serious potential in mobile check-in service Foursquare: it tried to buy it for $125 million.

That didn’t work. So Facebook started to get into the location game, too. It launched Facebook Places, its own geolocation service. And today, Facebook went ahead and launched a big new suite of mobile features that includes, notably, enhancements to Facebook Places that let businesses easily automate “deals” for when users check in. On the surface, given Facebook’s scale, this looks like it could spell difficult times ahead for Foursquare.

Like Foursquare, Facebook’s new deals product lets businesses draw in customers by offering a deal or discount to those who “check in,” and those deals can be created by any business, small or large, through a self-service tool.

It gets more sophisticated: Activate the deal, and it’ll be shared on your Facebook wall. There are also multiple kinds of deals, such as charity deals, with which a business donates a given amount for every check-in; group deals, which a Facebook user can only activate by bringing friends (and checking them in through Facebook Places as well); and loyalty deals that reward members for multiple check-ins. (Foursquare also offers “loyalty” rewards, as well as rewards for the “mayor” of a venue–the person who has checked in the most.)

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