Ohio State was not included in the first released version of Facebook Deals, an application introduced Nov. 3 that allows local businesses and organizations to offer deals to their visitors.
In fact, only a handful of universities have made a push to be a part of the online application.
Accessed through a mobile phone, users check into a location with a yellow icon on Facebook Places, claim the corresponding deal and show the screen to a cashier to redeem it, according to Facebook’s website.
Four types of discounts can be offered at this time: individual deals, friend deals for a group, loyalty deals for frequent guests and charity deals ensuring the organization donates to a cause upon checking in.
According to Facebook’s blog introducing the Deals application, mobile users might have access to other offers in upcoming weeks, including two entrees for the price of one from Chipotle, $1 donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities at McDonald’s and Conservation International at Starbucks, and discounts at several clothing stores.
The application, however, is available only to a limited number of Facebook Places in the U.S.
Andy Lempart, strategic communications manager for Cal Athletics, University of California’s athletic department, said only three universities are included because of their ticketing company’s ties to Facebook. The universities are the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Nebraska and Texas Tech University.
Lempart said the schools’ ticketing company, Paciolan, started making a push to ramp up its services in August. When the ticket company offered UC Berkeley the opportunity to engage in Facebook Deals, Cal Athletics decided to get involved.
“We didn’t want to do anything based around tickets because we could always do a ticket giveaway,” he said. “We really wanted to do something interactive for fans and something no one has ever done before.”
Students at UC Berkeley will have the opportunity to claim a spot in the human tunnel formed at football games.
“The cool thing about the Facebook Deals platform is that no money is exchanged, and it’s pretty dynamic, too,” he said. “We are just really excited to get this promotion off the ground and engage students.”
He said a test drive this weekend will allow the first 50 people to check in at the merchandise stand to receive two free tickets to the men’s basketball game Tuesday.
Ethan Rowley, Nebraska Athletics’ assistant director of Athletic Marketing, said Facebook chose schools that offered the most intriguing deals.
“We knew Facebook was looking for something that would be interesting and a little bit different because they have so many retail things,” he said. “We wanted to come up with something that would add to the fan football experience.”
Instead of providing free tickets, he said the first 200 fans to check in on the university’s Facebook after halftime at this Saturday’s football game can bring one guest to meet Tommie Frazier, a Huskers quarterback from the 1990s, and receive a free slice of pizza and drink.
According to the Texas Tech Athletics website, the first 100 people to check in on the Places application at its football game Saturday received two free tickets to the Nov. 20 game and a coach Tommy Tuberville poster.
OSU Undergraduate Student Government President Micah Kamrass said that although he is interested in offering OSU students similar perks, he hopes to evaluate their effectiveness at other universities first.
“I just recently became aware of it and want to look to see if it’s helpful at these other universities,” Kamrass said. “It is definitely something I hope we would examine, and I think we should look into anything that would be helpful to students, but right now it is too early to know any specifics.”
Ted Hattemer, director of New Media for University Marketing Communications, agreed that the university is open to participation.
“We are not opposed to it at all, but we were just unaware of it until now,” he said.
Chelsea Castle, a third-year in journalism and co-president of the Social Media Society, said she thinks OSU’s participation will encourage student involvement on campus.
“I think the university definitely should use it because any promotion through social media can be beneficial,” Castle said. “I’m pretty sure almost all 50,000-some OSU students are on Facebook, and it would be really good to help students be more aware of how to use it to their own advantage and also good to promote the university’s spirit and overall activity.”
She said she thinks OSU could promote business in the dining services or provide an academic incentive, such as discounts on textbooks purchased early in the quarter. Hattemer said he could imagine food services and businesses in the Union engaging students with the application.
Although Foursquare, a similar social media website allowing businesses to offer specials to users, contacted OSU about involvement, Hattemer said it is not a top priority now because it is not catching on with students.
“I think they would use this more than Foursquare because in comparison, there just aren’t enough people on there on campus to put in all the effort,” Hattemer said. “Everyone is on Facebook, so the potential for it to work is much greater just because of the sheer numbers.”